Celtic on brink of sealing title after easing to Dundee victory

19 March 2017 03:23

Celtic moved to within one win of a sixth successive Ladbrokes Premiership title with a narrow 2-1 victory over battling Dundee at Dens Park.

The Hoops took the lead with the last action of an unremarkable first half, visiting defender Jozo Simunovic's shot deflecting in off Dundee counterpart Kevin Gomis, before in-form midfielder Stuart Armstrong made it 2-0 with a 51st-minute header.

Paul Hartley's men rallied and substitute Faissal El Bakhtaoui made an immediate impact when he came on in the 74th minute before thundering in a 25-yard drive two minutes later.

But Celtic saw out the rest of the game to move back 25 points ahead of Aberdeen with nine games remaining and extend their unbeaten domestic run since the start of the season to 36 matches.

Brendan Rodgers' men can clinch the title when they play Hearts at Tynecastle after the international break.

Midfielder Callum McGregor made his 100th appearance for the Hoops with Simunovic making a return, while midfielder Tom Hateley and defender Gomis came in for the home side.

Before the lunchtime kick-off there was a minute's silence for Tommy Gemmell, left-back in the Celtic side which won the European Cup in 1967 and former player and manager at Dundee, who died recently.

Hartley had told his players to go for broke in the match and they started aggressively, refusing to let the visitors settle.

Celtic slowly worked themselves into the game, though, and in the 16th minute striker Moussa Dembele headed an Armstrong corner just past the post.

It looked like the Dark Blues had been handed their first warning but the tempo of the match took a dip with play becoming scrappy.

Dundee won a couple of corners which were defended but otherwise their attacking threat was non-existent.

The champions-elect turned the screw towards the end of the half.

Dundee defender Cameron Kerr prevented Scott Sinclair's close-range header testing keeper Scott Bain before former Celtic midfielder Paul McGowan cleared a Dedryck Boyata header off the line.

It seemed like the Taysiders would see out the half unscathed but, right at the death, Simunovic's shot as he slipped from James Forrest's cross struck Gomis and bounced past Bain at his post.

The breakthrough changed the complexion of the game and no doubt Hartley's half-time team talk.

Whatever the Dundee boss said to his players needed readjusting just six minutes after the break when Celtic doubled their lead.

Armstrong, in Gordon Strachan's Scotland squad for the forthcoming double-header against Canada and Slovenia, headed in a Forrest cross from 10 yards.

Celtic began moving the ball around with assurance but just after the hour-mark, Dundee's Canadian striker Marcus Haber squandered a good chance when he fired wide from 16 yards after being set up by McGowan.

Dundee pushed forward in search of a lifeline which came when substitute El Bakhtaoui, on two minutes earlier for Henrik Ojamaa, sent a drive screaming past Hoops keeper Craig Gordon.

After Haber headed a Kevin Holt free-kick past the post, Rodgers brought on defender Erik Sviatchenko for Sinclair to shore up the defence which held firm for the three points which puts Celtic on the cusp of another title.

Source: PA


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