Dundee United 0—3 Celtic.

Celtic started 2/7 favourites and that’s the way it looked. No Jota. Giorgos Giakoumakis after his hat-trick against Dundee leads the line. He hit a double and he’s scored nine so far. He’s not great outside the box. But he’s a poacher. I like that. Who doesn’t?

Daizen Maeda pushes wide. His work rate is always impressive; his touch less so. James Forrest retains his place. Win, lose or draw, usually, we expect him to come off and Abada to come on, but he too is missing from the bench. That leaves a space for Karamoko. O’Riley is in for Rogic, but the switch we expected never came. Hatate replaced at half-time.  Caution when needed. That’s something no often associate with Postecoglou.  

Juranovic in for Ralston. Hatate for Bitton. The Japanese midfielder started with a bang, but is no longer an automatic first-choice pick in the way Callum McGregor is. Both featured heavily here. Hatate picked up a booking, but looked back to his elegant best. McGregor, from a short corner, and via a deflection got us the lead in twelve minutes. Later in the half, he had a run from the middle of the park and a shot on goal that just whizzed past the post. The spine of the Celtic defence remains largely the same. And despite the wobbles, when we lead, we usually win.

United despite an opening flurry offered nothing in attack. A long-range effort, a shout for a penalty, Starfelt on McNulty, and a dodgy back pass from, ahem, our keeper, Hart wide to Startfelt. We’ve cause ourselves more problems than United.  It’s got to the stage where sometimes I feel sorry for Starfelt. He sees more of the ball than any of his teammates

Maeda sometimes looks ungainly. His speed is his main asset. Balls over the top finds him outpacing most defenders. Early in the opening minutes he found himself in behind, but his cross turned into a shot and looped just over Siegrist and the bar. The second goal was down to him getting in behind the defence. His cross into the box was lame, but Siegrist allowed the ball to bobble away from him. Giakoumakis nipped in to knock the ball into the net. After a spirited second-half start from United, its game over.

Maeda also had the ball in the net in the first half, only for it to be chopped off for handball from Giakoumakis. His swipe and shot on goal had hit his hand, but the commentator suggested it wasn’t a foul and should have been a goal. I didn’t know that. Celtic controlled the first half. That second goal put us on easy street.

The third goal a few minutes from the end of normal time summed up the kind of night United were having. Forrest, who looked at times as if he was carrying an injury, was replaced by Dembele, who got the last fifteen minutes. The nineteen-year-old, who, for a variety of reasons, has promised much but so far has provided little, had a hand in the third goal. His shot at goal took a deflection.  Giakoumakis didn’t hit it cleanly either, but the ball ended up in the net.

Mikey Johnson also came on for a cameo. Another that has promised much. Doak, the next-big-thing is seemingly on his way to Liverpool. I never quite get that how untested young players on the verge of the first team take the money and go. Fuck off, I say. And, no, I don’t wish him well. I wish ex-Celtic players like Kieran Tierney well for obvious reasons. This was an easy win. United didn’t have a shot on goal. Giakoumakis, quite simply, for being the right man in the right place, wins man of the match for me.    

Dundee United 0—3 Celtic

A straight-forward victory. Celtic drew with Dundee United at Parkhead in their last meeting which seems so long ago, I’m pretty sure Ismaili Soro would have been playing in midfield. In a first-half which Celtic dominated from the start with seventy-five percent possession, United’s best chances, their only chance of the half, came from Celtic defenders getting caught on the ball. Keeper Joe Hart in the fifth minute, for example, played the ball across the box towards Cameron Carter-Vickers, who had returned to the team for the injured Stephen Welsh. The ball didn’t reach the Celtic defender, but he helped usher it out for a corner.

Kyogo missed a good chance from a corner in six minutes. He peeled off his marker (how often do we need to say that? We’ll just take it as a given) and headed over the bar from close range. Turnbull had a similar chance. Mikey Johnston, looked sharp on his return—five starts since 2020, but Jota with five goals in five games is an enormous miss—hit a free-kick from the edge of the box against the United wall.

 Kyogo also almost played in Tom Rogic with a nifty one-two, which came to nothing as the Australian hoisted the ball over the bar. But the Wizard of Oz, who not so long ago was being encouraged to exit Paradise, did it all himself in twenty-one minutes. A five-a-side goal. Rogic took the ball from wide, near the half-way line, and cut inside towards the penalty area. Nipping in and out of defenders as they retreated. He beat two in the box and picked his spot. All kinds of goals make goal of the season. But this was special, because it put up one up. No more than we deserved. Celtic are always liable to lose a goal. In the game at Parkhead between the teams, for example, we scored and then United scored. We seen it against Hearts. A game we should have been two, three or four ahead, but scrambled to keep our lead.

Celtic had six corners in the first twenty minutes. Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt coming close and giving us yet another corner.

David Turnbull also missed a good chance with a header after thirty-three minutes. The former Motherwell midfielder has been an automatic pick, with his energy and passing ability, but his trademark runs into the box and goals from outside the box dried up of late. He missed another good chance from close in letting the ball hit off him, rather than guiding it into the net. He described it as ‘a sitter’.

Forrest got his feet mixed up and missed another chance in the six-yard box. But Turnbull’s goal, just before half-time, which gave us breathing space, was of the more straightforward variety. A dink over the defence by Callum McGregor. Turnbull juggled the ball over the advancing Siegrist. With his second touch, he volleyed into the empty net, just to make sure that Charlie Mulgrew couldn’t clear. Game over, so we thought, and so it proved.

United had more of the ball in the second-half, with one shot on goal. The kind your granny would have saved, but Barkas would probably have let in, which shows some of the distance we’ve come since the season started. Forrest who’d been holding his calf, late in the first-half, was replaced by Abada. The Israeli forward missed two decent chances.

Ten minutes into the second-half, Calum Butcher came on for Louis Appere. The latter was coming back from a suspension over a red card. The United substitute Butcher by name should have had a red card for his first tackle on Turnbull, ten minutes later. He got yellow. He also lunged into Turnbull again on the edge of the United box. That should have been another yellow.

But Celtic should have already added to their lead. Nir Bitton had replaced Rogic. And with almost fifteen-minutes remaining, Greg Taylor was substituted for former Shamrock Rovers defender, Liam Scales. Taylor has been out for three months. Many, including me, wondered if the former Kilmarnock full back was good enough for Celtic. Adam Montgomery came in but didn’t look the part. Josip Juranovic’s debut at left-back was in an Old Firm game. He looked cool and composed as his penalty panache suggests. But again, I’m not sure about his defensive work. The Croatian was shuttled over to the right-back spot to replace an injured Anthony Ralston. I laughed when the press questioned Ange Postecoglou about Juranovic saying he wanted to play on the right. Ange was quick to slap that one down with the reminder he picks the team, not the Croatian.

He picks the team and Liam Scales made his debut in a league match. He didn’t score the winner, but he did score the third from a shot from the edge of the box in eighty-one minutes of a second-half Celtic had cruised. We’ve a dud European match on Thursday. Maybe I shouldn’t get on the wrong side of Ange, but it would be nice to see Liam Scales starting, but I’m not really fussed. Just keep winning and pray for Jota to come back soon.