DUNDEE UNITED 0 CELTIC 0
MISFIRING Celtic squandered the chance to delay title celebrations elsewhere as they waywardly passed up chance after chance to win a one-sided confrontation against Dundee United this afternoon.
The story of a wretched campaign was encapsulated in this miserable encounter when they dithered their way to a dreary stalemate at Tannadice.
It was hard to bear watching opportunities being set up and missed with monotonous regularity.
Celtic’s nine-year domination of Scotland is over – and they have no-one to blame but themselves. They have been a rudderless ship for too long as they have sailed disastrously towards the rocks. Leadership has been required on and off the pitch and there has been an obvious lack of guidance.
They have practically gift-wrapped the championship and had it sent across Glasgow following a sequence of blunders as they got caught in a minefield of mistakes throughout the season that morphed into a death of a thousand cuts.
WATCHING BRIEF…Odsonne Edouard takes stock.
United were on the ropes for an hour in which Celtic had 23 attempts and 11 on target, but just could not get the ball in the net.
At the end, the players looked dismayed as they traipsed off the pitch, They had every right to look disappointed.
After a dreadful, inexplicable and inexcusable term, they should also have looked embarrassed. Too many did not show up when courage, endeavour, invention and energy were desired.
The first-half was a procession towards the United goal with the Hoops having seven efforts on target.
Keeper Benjamin Siegrist was the busiest man on the park and the pick of his saves came in the in the 13th minute when Odsonne Edouard eluded Mark Reynolds to get on the end of a Callum McGregor chip, but his rasping drive was pushed over the bar by the athletic Swiss netminder.
He made a couple of routine stops from low efforts from David Turnbull that edged towards his right-hand post while there were another couple from McGregor and Edouard that were straight into his hands.
Comeback man Mohamed Elyounoussi looked so eager to be involved, but he also figured on the miss list with a tame header early in proceedings that bounced harmlessly into the arms of the keeper from eight yards after a good cutback from Kristoffer Ajer.
CQN urged John Kennedy and his coaching staff to order some much-needed shooting practice after the narrow win over Aberdeen, but it looked on the evidence of the first 45 minutes that the urgent requirement had been overlooked at Lennoxtown.
MOI MISERY…Mohamed Elyounoussi can’t disguise his despair.
Elyounoussi summed up some wretched finishing with a shot from 25 yards, hit on the run as he came in from an angle on the left, that probably saw the ball land somewhere in Perth.
Diego Laxalt was also culpable in the 34th minute after Edouard and the Norwegian combined to set up a glorious opportunity inside the box. The on-loan AC Milan defender took a rush of blood to the head and waywardly hammered the ball wide of a relieved Sieghirst’s right-hand upright.
There was a lot to admire in the build-up play of the visitors, but they let themselves down when it came to applying the killer touch. The story of a miserable season.
There was a moment midway through the opening half that summed up the refereeing that has been on display too often in this campaign.
Pernickety Kevin Clancy waved Jonjoe Kenny back a couple of yards to take a throw-in that was deep in Celtic territory. The right-back took the shy and a United defender demonstrated his Sir Edmund Hillary mountaineering skills by climbing all over Elyounoussi in his efforts to get to the ball. A certain foul? The Celt thought so as he complained to the match official who ignored the plea for a foul. It would make you weep.
The second-half continued in the same theme, chances being carved out, chances being missed.
OFF DAY…Scott Brown was replaced by comeback Bhoy James Forrest.
In 62 minutes, Turnbull, after a miss from six yards, was replaced with Tom Rogic.
James Forrest came on for Scott Brown in the 78th minute and shortly afterwards it was the turn of Leigh Griffiths to replace Elyounoussi who had just sent a six-yard header miserably past the post after good service from Christie.
Five minutes of added-on time was played, but Celtic footered and fumbled to a frustrating goalless deadlock.
The sheer awfulness of a painful afternoon was typified by Edouard’s inability to take a routine throw-in.
End of an era, Celtic, thank you for the memories.
TEAM: Bain; Kenny, Welsh, Ajer, Laxalt; Brown (sub: Forrest 78), Turnbull (sub: Rogic 62), McGregor, Christie; Elyounoussi (sub: Griffiths 84); Edouard.