CELTIC 1 DUNDEE UNITED 0
TEN-MAN Celtic left it late before Liel Abada fired the Hoops to victory over Dundee United at Parkhead this season.
Skipper Nir Bitton had already been banished before the Israeli winger thumped in the points-clincher a minute from time.
Abada controlled a right-wing cross from Filipe Jota and steadied himself before hammering the ball into the net from 10 yards.
A win over Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox side, who drew 3-3 with Ross County in Dingwall, will put Celtic at the Premiership pinnacle if they do not slip up in the east end of Glasgow in midweek.
BY THE RIGHT…Liel Abada unleashes a right-foot shot.
The action got underway in the seventh minute, Giorgos Giakoumakis fluffed his lines when he dallied in front of goal and allowed defender Calum Butcher to sneak in and clear just six yards from goal.
James Forrest was wasteful with his finishing effort when he was sent through on the left as the Hoops piled forward looking for the breakthrough goal.
In the 27th minute, Anthony Ralston, after some determined play on the edge of the box, forced the ball through to the raiding Liel Abada, but the Israeli international’s drive was blocked by keeper Benjamin Siegrist and spun to safety.
Six minutes later, Matt O’Riley, so impressive on his debut in the 2-1 misweek win over Hearts at Tynecastle, released Abada on the right and his low cross was ushered round the post by Siegrist as Giakoumasis made contact at the near post.
Moments later, the netminder was in action again as he got down smartly to his right to push away a curling 25-yard effort from O’Riley.
And the 21-year-old former MK Dons midfielder left Siergrist helpess with another attempt that swept just wide of the upright as the home side remained on the offensive. He was set up by Forrest with a fine pass in from the left and really should have netted on his first home appearance.
Forrest looked off the pace and was slow to react to a neat pass from the elft touchline by Reo Hatate. The winger hesitated in pulling the trigger and a visiting defender got in ahead of him to boot the ball clear.
It was no surprise when the veteran winger didn’t come out for the second-half with Filipe Jota coming on to add some pace to the attack and Josip Juranovic also replaced Liam Scales to add weight to the left-hand side of the team.
Within minutes, the on-loan Portuguese winger set up an opportunity for O’Riley whose glancing header was pushed away at full stretch by Siegrist.
CELEBRATIONS…Ange Postecoglou celebrates another win.
There were groans from the home fans after some sloppy play from Abada and Anthony Ralston squandered opportunities as the Hoops tried to convert their superiority into the currency of goals.
On the hour mark. Abada and O’Riley combined to set up Ralston, but his 25-yard drive lacked precision and Siegrist was able to flop onto the attempt.
It became a frustrating afternoon and that was highlighted in the 66th minute when Giakoumakis had a six-yard effort knocked away by the outstetched right foot of Siegrist. The Greek frontman should have scored.
In the 66th minute, Greg Taylor replaced Hatate and teenager Ben Doak took over from Ralston as Postecoglou made the necessary changes to a team that was in much need of inspiration.
In the 71st minute, there was a superb opportunity for Giakumakis after a good move on the left from Taylor and the Jota, but the frontman hopelessly screwed the ball wide of the target. He should have hit the target at the very least.
Amazingly, Nir Bitton was banished with 10 minutes to go when referee Euan Donaldson ignored an obvious foul on Taylor momemnts beforehand. It was a nonsensical red card.
The ineffectual Giakoumakis was taken off in the 83rd minute with James McCarthy taking his place as Postecoglou switching Jota and Doak to central attacking areas.
With the clock ticking down, Abada’s timing was perfect as he arrived in the box to rifle in the winner.
Roll on Wednesday!
TEAM: Hart; Ralston (sub: Doak 66), Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Scales (sub: Juranovic 46); Bitton, Hatate (sub: Taylor 66), O’Riley; Abada, Giakoumakis (sub: McCarthy 83), Forrest (sub: Jota 46).