CELTIC 0 DUNDEE 0
CELTIC drew a blank against Dundee at Parkhead as Aberdeen cut the lead at the top of the Premiership to four points.
As Ronny Deila’s men toiled for the breakthrough against Paul Hartley’s team, nearest challengers Dons were beating Dundee United 1-0 at Tannadice.
Distressingly, tonight’s encounter chalked up an unhappy hat-trick for the Hoops – it’s the third time they have been held to a goalless draw in Glasgow in the defence of their title with Dundee now following the identical feats of Hearts and Kilmarnock.
Dropping six points from a possible nine against these three teams – no disrespect intended – without managing to score a solitary goal in four-and-a-half hours of football at Celtic Park wouldn’t have been predicted or expected at the start of the campaign.
After failing to beat Hamilton Accies on Friday night, Celtic were expected to get back into their stride against the Tayside outfit.
However, this way a far from impressive display by the Hoops with 10 games still to play in the race for the crown.
Deila sprung a double surprise right at the start when he gave on-loan Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts his first start and brought back Tom Rogic to central midfield.
The double introduction appeared to have the initial desired effect when teenager Roberts was confident enough to try an effort in the third minute which was blocked.
A minute later, Rogic also had an attempt, but it flew high and wide without troubling Dundee keeper Scott Bain.
There was an obvious lack of tempo about the team and precious little for the supporters to get too excited about.
Leigh Griffiths tugged a shot wide in the 14th minute before Charlie Mulgrew, making his 200th appearance for the Hoops, at least forced a save from Bain with a free-kick effort just after the half-hour mark.
And the Dens keeper was required to be be alert in the 36th minute when he saved from Rogic before Erik Sviatchenko failed to hit the target with a header following a corner-kick.
Deila threw on James Forrest for Stuart Armstrong after the interval to add some pep and drive to the frontmen, but it just didn’t work.
Some fans were growing more than a little disgruntled with the news Aberdeen were leading at Tannadice and, just after the hour mark, the Hoops boss took off Rogic and threw on Colin Kazim-Richards to partner Griffiths up front.
Celtic had to wait until the 76th minute until they got a shot on target and Bain saved convincingly and confidently to thwart them.
Roberts burst into the box and cut the ball back to Mulgrew who tried a clever chip shot. However, Bain was alert to his attempt and got back to push the ball over the bar.
Dundee, minus a host of regulars including former Bhoys’ centre-half Darren O’Dea, were dangerous when they had opportunities to break and make life uncomfortable for the home team.
They gave the champions a fright with only six minutes remaining when Kostadin Gadzhalov was presented with an opportunity only six yards out.
The defender, though, was yards wide with his header when it looked as though he had to work Craig Gordon.
It was a miserable evening for the Hoops’ fans who expected so much more from their favourites.
There is still much work to do in the pursuit of that fifth successive Premiership title.
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig (sub: Commons 80), Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Mulgrew; Roberts, Rogic (sub: Kazim-Richards 61), Armstrong (sub: Forrest 46); Griffiths.