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Celtic 3-0 Dundee United: Jullien injury blow for hosts

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Odsonne Edouard completed Celtic's victory with his 12th goal of the season
Odsonne Edouard completed Celtic’s victory with his 12th goal of the season

Ismaila Soro scored his first Celtic goal as Neil Lennon’s resurgent side prepared for Saturday’s Old Firm derby with a convincing Scottish Premiership win over Dundee United.

But it came at a cost as defender Christopher Jullien suffered a knee injury after colliding with a post.

Soro and David Turnbull both netted from distance before Odsonne Edouard’s lob sealed a sixth straight win.

Celtic head to Ibrox 16 points behind Rangers with three games in hand.

United, who came close through Marc McNulty and Nicky Clark at 2-0 down, remain in fifth place.

A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off in memory of legendary United manager Jim McLean, who died on 26 December at the age of 83.

McLean was in charge of the Tannadice club the last time they won at Celtic – 28 years ago – and Micky Mellon boldly shoehorned strikers Lawrence Shankland, Marc McNulty and Nicky Clark into his starting line-up as he attempted to end that long barren run.

There was a big call from Celtic boss Neil Lennon too, with Greek goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas restored in place of Conor Hazard after five games on the bench.

United had coped comfortably with Celtic’s heavy pressure until Soro delivered an unlikely opener midway through the first half with a swerving 25-yard drive into the top corner. A moment to savour for the Ivorian, but one to forget for goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist, whose attempted save was feeble.

Still, United’s margin of defeat could have been much heavier had Siegrist not partly redeemed himself with a number of stops.

He made an an instinctive block after Turnbull’s outrageous lob teed up Leigh Griffiths for a blast at goal, with Edouard sending the rebound wide.

But another long-range drive doubled the lead as Turnbull drilled home low off the keeper’s right-hand post to score for the third game running.

United, anonymous as an attacking force in the first half, almost conjured an instant response after the break as McNulty beat Jullien to Shankland’s through ball and fired past Barkas. Jullien raced back to clear off the line, but his impetus took him thudding into the upright and after several minutes’ treatment he was replaced by Nir Bitton.

United’s positive spell – and Celtic’s shakiness at the back – continued when Shankland’s cross found Clark 10 yards out but with only the goalkeeper to beat the striker fired horribly wide.

That was as good as it got for the visitors as Celtic regained control. Griffiths and Edouard were both foiled by Siegrist before the strike pair combined to craft a sublime third.

Griffiths’ lofted pass split United’s defence and Edouard deftly lobbed the keeper as Celtic continued their resurgence before the crucial showdown with Rangers.

Man of the match – David Turnbull

The Scotland Under-21 forward netted his fourth goal in six games and delivered another performance full of flair as he continues to flourish for Celtic
The Scotland Under-21 forward netted his fourth goal in six games and delivered another performance full of flair as he continues to flourish for Celtic

What did we learn?

This was a crucial but costly win for a Celtic side still trying to claw back lost ground in the title race. A fourth consecutive Premiership victory and clean sheet are further evidence of their recovery, but the loss of Jullien would be a hammer blow for the trip to Ibrox.

Neil Lennon will at least be consoled by his side’s attacking verve, with Turnbull again impressive while the front two of Edouard and Griffiths worked in tandem to torment the visitors.

United’s starting line-up was bold, but failed to pay off as Mellon’s team were far too passive in a first half, which effectively killed the game as a contest. Standing off and allowing players to shoot cost them the first two goals and their strong start to the second half was let down by wayward finishing.

What did they say?

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “We played brilliantly and created a lot of really good chances.

“There was great energy and quality. The atmosphere around the place is good and I was really pleased with the substitutes as well, their contribution was excellent.”

Dundee United manager Micky Mellon: “We have to show growth and improvement from the lessons we learned today. The chances we made were more than reasonable and at Celtic Park you need to take them.”

What’s next?

Derby dates for both sides. Celtic face Old Firm rivals Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday (12:30 GMT), while United are in New Firm action away to Aberdeen (15:00 GMT).

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 1Barkas
  • 30Frimpong
  • 2JullienSubstituted forBittonat 51′minutes
  • 35Ajer
  • 93Laxalt
  • 12SoroSubstituted forBrownat 80′minutes
  • 17Christie
  • 14TurnbullSubstituted forRogicat 77′minutes
  • 42McGregor
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forAjetiat 77′minutes
  • 22EdouardSubstituted forElyounoussiat 80′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Taylor
  • 4Duffy
  • 6Bitton
  • 8Brown
  • 10Ajeti
  • 18Rogic
  • 19Johnston
  • 27Elyounoussi
  • 65Hazard

Dundee Utd

  • 1Siegrist
  • 2SmithBooked at 56minsSubstituted forBoltonat 83′minutes
  • 5Connolly
  • 12Edwards
  • 6Reynolds
  • 17RobsonSubstituted forSpörleat 83′minutes
  • 10Clark
  • 23Harkes
  • 8PawlettBooked at 38minsSubstituted forPowersat 74′minutes
  • 9McNulty
  • 24ShanklandSubstituted forMcMullanat 68′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Spörle
  • 4Powers
  • 7McMullan
  • 19Mehmet
  • 20Bolton
  • 25Fotheringham
  • 27Appéré
  • 30Neilson
  • 37Hutchinson

Live Text

Player of the match

TurnbullDavid Turnbull

Celtic

  1. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull

  2. Squad number12Player nameSoro

  3. Squad number30Player nameFrimpong

  4. Squad number17Player nameChristie

  5. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor

  6. Squad number35Player nameAjer

  7. Squad number9Player nameGriffiths

  8. Squad number93Player nameLaxalt

  9. Squad number22Player nameEdouard

  10. Squad number2Player nameJullien

  11. Squad number6Player nameBitton

  12. Squad number18Player nameRogic

  13. Squad number27Player nameElyounoussi

  14. Squad number1Player nameBarkas

  15. Squad number8Player nameBrown

  16. Squad number10Player nameAjeti

Dundee United

  1. Squad number1Player nameSiegrist

  2. Squad number6Player nameReynolds

  3. Squad number24Player nameShankland

  4. Squad number2Player nameSmith

  5. Squad number17Player nameRobson

  6. Squad number10Player nameClark

  7. Squad number9Player nameMcNulty

  8. Squad number23Player nameHarkes

  9. Squad number12Player nameEdwards

  10. Squad number5Player nameConnolly

  11. Squad number8Player namePawlett

  12. Squad number7Player nameMcMullan

  13. Squad number3Player nameSpörle

  14. Squad number4Player namePowers

  15. Squad number20Player nameBolton

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