DUNDEE 0 CELTIC 1
CELTIC moved TEN points ahead at the top of the Premiership after Odsonne Edouard’s winning goal deep in stoppage time at Dens Park this afternoon.
The champions, lacking invention and inspiration for lengthy spells in this confrontation, grabbed the victory that propels them towards their eighth successive title success.
The Hoops had massive chunks of the game, but some wayward finishing, aimless high balls and lack of cutting edge looked as though they would cost Neil Lennon’s men two points.
However, going into the sixth minute of added-on time, they got the goal their overall performance deserved.
After all the huffing and puffing beforehand, it was a slick move that carved open the opportunity after Scott Brown had intecepted a pass out of defence and knocked the ball to Edouard.
STOPPAGE-TIME CELEBRATIONS…Odsonne Edouard (extreme right) slams in the winner after the low ball from James Forrest (extreme left).
He edged forward with menace before sliding a pass to James Forrest on the left. He took it to the bye-line before clipping it across goal and there was the Frenchman arriving with perfect timing to stroke in the winner from close range.
It wasn’t a pretty display and it won’t linger long in the memory banks, but it is another three points towards history.
The end of the first-half was signalled with a powder-puff effort from Edouard that was easily scooped up by keeper Seny Dieng which told the story of the opening 45 minutes.
The Hoops, with a lot of possession, but lacking in guile and precision, had plenty of attempts on target. However, they went in at half-time with the team bereft of a solitary goal in 135 successive minutes following last week’s scoreless stalemate against Aberdeen.
THE WINNING CROSS…James Forrest prepares to provide the killer pass for the points-clincher.
To be fair the the Dens No.1 he had a couple of excellent stops, most notably one to his left when he pushed away a curling drive from Scott Sinclair and he had three saves in quickfire succession as he beat away a 30-yard effort from Scott Brown, blocked Sinclair and then parried a follow-up from Edouard.
In the third minute, Kieran Tierney emphasised the champions’ intent with a 25-yarder that spun off Darren O’Dea and wide of the upright with the keeper going the wrong way.
In the 18th minute, there were howls for a penalty-kick when James Horsfield hauled back Sinclair who was left in a heap. Referee Bobby Madden wasn’t interested and waved play on.
The first 20 minutes belonged to the visitors as they continued to press and Mikey Johnston flitted around the periphery without making a telling contribution.
In fact, a moment of slackness from the teenager almost presented Jim McIntyre’s side with a shock half-time lead when he needlessly gave away possession in the Dundee half.
THE PLUCK OF THE IRISH…a delighted Neil Lennon shows his joy at the end.
They broke clear at pace with the Hoops defence back-tracking.
The ball was fed left to Scott Wright, but Scott Bain’s positioning was outstanding as he sprinted from his line to narrow the angle and deflect the ball to safety.
It would have been amazing – and alarming – if the relegation-threatened home side had managed to get the breakthrough goal considering the flow of the game.
However, Lennon wouldn’t have been satisfied or impressed with the lack of crispness or the final pass as his team rolled towards Dieng.
James Forrest had a superb volley from a left-wing Callum McGregor corner-kick that was blocked as it headed towards goal, but the winger passed up a reasonable opportunity earlier in the encounter when he blasted high and wide from a good position.
After the interval, it was a similar story. Sinclair attempted a drive from the edge of the box, but it took a nick off Horsfield and drifted beyond the left-hand post.
ST PATRICK’S DAY PARADE…Timothy Weah leads the procession of Mikael Lustig, Odsonne Edouard, Kieran Tierney, Mikey Johnston and Scott Brown after the triumph on Tayside.
In the 59th minute, Johnston was replaced by Jonny Hayes as Lennon switched his formation around.
Ajer was hit on the back of the head by a volley from Kenny Miller and eventually had to be replaced by Filip Benkovic in the 73rd minute.
Timothy Weah got the nod to add to the proceedings in the 79th minute when he came on for Toljan as Lennon again changed his tactics.
Hayes tried to bring life to the team with some surging forays on the left, but it looked as though the Celts were heading for successive blankety-blank weekends.
Thankfully, Edouard had something to say about that.
Now we can have a rest before Steven Gerrard and Co visit Paradise on March 31.
It could be an unlucky gap of 13 points for the Govan gaffer before April Fool’s Day.
TEAM: Bain; Toljan (sub: Weah 79), Lustig, Ajer (sub: Benkovic 73), Tierney; Brown, McGregor; Forrest, Johnston (sub: Hayes 59), Sinclair; Edouard.