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Celtic weather Dundee storm, go seven points clear

26 Dec 2012 21:46:42

Celtic weather Dundee storm, go seven points clear

Celtic had to weather a second half storm as they increased their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to seven points with a hard-fought 2-0 win over bottom of the table Dundee at Dens Park.

Tony Watt had come close and Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose saw an effort come off the bar before a superbly-hit overhead kick from Georgios Samaras gave Celtic a 16th-minute lead.

However, Dundee rallied after the break and Fraser Forster made a magnificent point-blank save to deny a Colin Nish header before John Baird's effort was blocked by Emilio Izaguirre.

With the home side pushing forward looking for a leveller the defence switched off and Gary Hooper took advantage of this to latch on to a through ball from Mikel Lustig and lob former Hoops keeper Rab Douglas to make it 2-0 in the 71st minute.

The win is Celtic's fifth in a row in the SPL and sees them seven points clear of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who could only manage a 2-2 draw with St Mirren earlier in the day, and leaves Dundee nine points adrift at the bottom.

Teenage striker Watt was handed a rare start for Celtic and he raced into the box to get on the end of an Izaguirre cross but his left-foot effort was scrambled round the post by Douglas.

Celtic nearly took the lead from the resultant corner when Ambrose connected with Charlie Mulgrew's in-swinging effort with his thigh but the ball crashed off the bar before Victor Wanyama volleyed the rebound over.

A spectacular effort from Samaras opened the scoring in the 16th minute.

Another in-swinging corner from Mulgrew was met by Watt at the back post and Douglas could only parry the ball as far as the Greek striker who hit a superb overhead kick from eight yards out.

Just before the break Ambrose cut in from the right and fired in a shot that Douglas plucked out the air in a comfortable save.

Dundee emerged after the break looking like a different team and only a fantastic save from Forster in the 50th minute kept the Hoops in front.

Ryan Conroy lifted the ball into the box from left wing and Forster made a point blank save to deny Nish's bullet header.

Minutes later Conroy's free-kick was cleared by Ambrose only as far as Kevin McBride who lashed a first-time shot just wide.

Celtic were on the back foot and only the out-stretched leg of Izaguirre denied Dundee a leveller when the Honduran defender blocked Baird's fierce strike.

The Hoops slowly started to find a way back into the game and Douglas had to be alert to make a save from team-mate Kyle Benedictus who diverted substitute Mikel Lustig's cross towards goal under pressure from Hooper.

A moment of slackness in the Dundee defence handed Celtic a two-goal cushion in the 71st minute.

Lustig pinged the ball up the inside right channel and the English striker managed to evade the Dundee defence and took a touch before lifting the ball over Douglas and into the net from 12 yards out.

Dundee didn't give up and Forster had to scramble to tip a looping header from Nish over the bar two minutes later.


AFP

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