Celtic did enough in the opening 16 minutes to put this game beyond Dundee United but only managed to score once, an excellent effort from Gary Hooper, before United tightened up and made a contest of the game.
Georgios Samaras sprung past the United defence inside the first 30 seconds and squared the ball across the six yard line but Stokes arrived a split-second late to convert. That signalled a period of relentless Celtic pressure as the home team found it impossible to get out of their own half or hodl any kind of possession.
Gary Hooper controlled a long clearlance inside the centre circle on 12 minutes before knocking the ball square to James Forrest, who had space to exploit. Forrest drove forward before returning the pass to Hooper inside the box. The Celtic striker turned outside Gunning before driving a shot low inside Dusan Pernis’ right had post to open the scoring.
Celtic continued to press forward with Forrest again involved in their most dangerous moves. The young winger threaded a through ball to Anthony Stokes on the edge of the area before racing past the defensive line to meet the return pass on the volley but his shot struck Pernis.
Give-and-go football was proving effective for Celtic and on 41 minutes Cha Du-Ri played a one-two with Forrest but could not convert his shot.
Celtic were so dominant in the first half their only real concern must have been why they were not further ahead but the second half proved to be more of a contest. Dundee United’s passing was poor all afternoon but Celtic slipped to their level, frequently succumbing to unforced errors. The visitors were never in any trouble defensively but Neil Lennon decided to shake things up in midfield, and substituted central defender, Glenn Loovens, pulled Victor Wanyama back and brought Scott Brown into midfield.
The subsequent change, bringing Ki on for Stokes gave Celtic more athleticism and meant that the final few minutes, which are often tense when defending a one goal lead, were contested almost exclusively in the United half. Fraser Forster had a few catches and the odd punch but had a relatively easy afternoon.