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The BBC's Andy Gilles
"This was a better game than expected"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 21:26 GMT 22:26 UK
Low-key win for Celtic

Dundee Utd 0-1 Celtic

Mark Burchill's ninth-minute effort earned Celtic a low-key victory against Dundee United at a sparsely-attended Tannadice as both sides went through the motions.

Trailing Rangers by some 22 points in the Scottish Premier League, Celtic now await their next head coach being appointed with Guus Hiddink, dismissed by Real Betis on Tuesday, the clear favourite.

Alan Stubbs made his first-team return after ankle and thigh problems, lining-up for the first time since March, in a Celtic side which saw youngster Stephen Crainey start.

Stewart Kerr continued in goal with Jonathan Gould left on the bench, while for United defender David McCracken was offered a debut chance at centre-half.

It was a low-key opening which needed an early goal to lift it and that came on nine minutes after Eyal Berkovic combined with Mark Viduka in fluid fashion.

First-time effort

Scottish Players' Player of the Year Viduka played in Burchill who struck a powerful first-time effort low beyond the reach of Alan Combe to put the visitors ahead.

United were not overawed - Celtic no longer seem to have that effect on their rivals - and it needed a superb one-handed save from Kerr to deny former Parkhead midfielder David Hannah.

From the rebound Joaquim Ferraz blazed over while moments later Hannah controlled the ball expertly on the edge of the area before sending a looping volley just over the bar.

Jason De Vos then saved United at the other end as he reached a Colin Healy cutback ahead of the onrushing Burchill after more skilful work by Berkovic in the centre.

After 20 minutes, Stubbs' tackle in the centre circle enabled Lubomir Moravcik to release Burchill but Combe was equal to the task, blocking smartly.

Ferraz directed a header wide for United, while Viduka cut inside with purpose for Celtic before driving a low effort into the side-netting as chances were being created at both ends.

Point-blank header

Vidar Riseth sent an ambitious effort wide for Celtic before the busy Hannah curled a free-kick off-target in response.

Ferraz was enduring a miserable half and when an Alex Mathie cross presented him with a free header he could only direct it well wide from point blank range.

United replaced Hugh Davidson with Scotland Under-21 captain Craig Easton at the break and had the first chance after the restart when Ferraz dragged a shot wide.

Paul Lambert fired a 25-yard drive narrowly wide for Celtic, but United were posing the bigger threat, Ferraz sending a header straight at Kerr from a De Vos cross.

Portuguese striker Ferraz should have done better on 67 minutes when picked out by Hannah's cross, but his header drifted over the bar as Celtic held on to their 1-0 advantage.

Celtic's night

With 20 minutes remaining, Scottish record signing Berkovic was withdrawn from the fray to allow Tommy Johnson a comeback from injury following a recent muscle strain.

The match was a flat affair now, but Celtic almost doubled their lead when Burchill's sharp near post effort was stopped one-handed by Combe in the United goal.

With two minutes remaining it needed a fine low save from Kerr to maintain Celtic's lead as he pushed aside a McCracken header in a late, but fruitless United surge.

In injury time, United almost deepened the visitors' gloom when substitute Stephen McConalogue saw a header come back off the post, but, for once, it was to be Celtic's night.

Teams:

Dundee Utd: Combe, McQuillan, De Vos, McCracken, Partridge, Davidson, Venetis, Hannah, Telesnikov, Mathie, Ferraz. Subs: Gallacher, Pascual, Easton, Thompson, McConalogue.

Celtic: Kerr, Mahe, Riseth, Stubbs, Crainey, Lambert, Moravcik, Berkovic, Healy, Viduka, Burchill. Subs: Gould, Petta, Johnson, Kennedy, Smith.

Referee: Willie Young (Scotland)

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See also:

02 May 00 | Football
Celtic struggle to tempt Hiddink
29 Apr 00 | Scottish Premier
Celtic end Well's Euro dream
22 Apr 00 | Scottish Premier
Rangers handed Scottish crown
10 Feb 00 | Scotland
Celtic chief plans 'full review'
08 Mar 00 | Scottish Premier
Rangers leave Celtic reeling
05 Mar 00 | Scottish Premier
Celtic blow it again
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