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Still top ahead of Old Firm game

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19 Oct 2010 06:53:55

Still top ahead of Old Firm game

Despite the body blow of a penalty decision being overturned, the 100% league record is maintained. Anthony Stokes has acknowledged the importance of Celtic going in to Sunday's game level on points with rivals Rangers. Neil Lennon's side came within minutes of losing their league 100 per cent record against Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday. Despite producing what Lennon described as their best performance of the season, it required a dramatic Gary Hooper goal in the 89th minute to secure the 2-1 win which ensured they did not go into next weekend's top-of-the-table home game trailing Rangers. Former Hibs striker Stokes admitted it would have been a " huge blow" for his side had they dropped points ahead of the Old Firm game.  He said: "The last thing we wanted was to drop points ahead of the game against Rangers. So, from that point of view, it was a massive, massive result. It maybe looked as though that was going to be the case with the game at 1-1, and only a minute of normal time remaining, but we never gave up. When you play as well as we did, and you create as many chances, you've got to win. The manager said that it was as well as we have played and I have to agree with him. Some of our football was fantastic. It would have been a huge blow had we not won the match." After taking the lead through the impressive Hooper, who converted a Mark Wilson cross, the visitors were stunned just before half-time when United striker David Goodwille's striked shot was deflected and landed behind keeper Fraser Forster. There was hope of the lead being restored in the second half when referee Dougie McDonald pointed to the spot after Hooper went down after being challenged by Tannadice keeper Dusan Pernis. But to the anger of Lennon, after consulting assistant referee Steven Craven, McDonald then changed his mind and gave a bounce ball in the box. Stokes admitted the decision also left him baffled. He said: "If you point to the spot then you can't change your mind, surely? I was there, as were other players of ours, and we could have tapped the ball into the net instead of it then becoming a drop-ball. I thought we responded well and didn't allow it to disrupt our performance."


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