Credit to Dundee, who for 94 minutes defended like their livelihoods depended on it, but they were undone by a rash hope to win the game and sheer fatigue. Manager, Jim McIntyre, gave an insight into their downfall immediately after the game.
After being under pressure throughout the first half, Dundee had a chance to take the lead seconds before the interval. In his post-match TV interview, McIntyre said how he urged his players to take chances like this in the second period.
As it happened, Dundee broke away four minutes into stoppage time, with five players piling forward in a hope of winning three points. The move came to nothing as Scott Bain easily collected the ball, but for a moment, the pitch was stretched. Celtic’s forward balls were poor all day and Dundee had a chance to clear one final time but, stretched and tired, it did not happen. Odsonne Edouard and James Forrest combined to give Celtic yet another last minute winner.
It looked cruel on Dundee, but what on earth were they doing chasing a winner with so many players forward in the 94th minute? They were clearly tired and Celtic needed to draw them out. The subsequent goal was a direct consequence of McIntyre’s desire for the win.
The net effect of the weekend’s games is the likely spread of Celtic’s league winning margin moves to 15-18 points. This is below the record levels achieved the last time Neil Lennon was in charge of the team but is none too shabby.
The sight of stewards working on behalf of Dundee FC yesterday confiscating an Irish flag is another disheartening sign of the country’s slip into intolerance. Officers from Police Scotland watched on, legitimising the act of anti-Irish racism. It is to credit of the dispossessed Celtic fans that they conducted themselves so well in the aftermath.
There was a Croatian flag yards from me at Celtic Park recently, and there has been Italian and Canadian tourists in our section at the last two home games. Scotland remains a tourist destination and visitors will be not expect their national symbols to be viewed with hostility.
Celtic Park will remain open to all, but do not think police and steward-authorised racism will remain limited to Irish identity at other grounds. When the police authorise the confiscation of property because it bears the colours of a neighbouring country, it is time to speak up.