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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 18:38 GMT
Petrov pushes Celtic closer
Midfielder Stilian Petrov scores Celtic's winning goal
Midfielder Stilian Petrov scored Celtic's winning goal
Celtic 1-0 Dundee United

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A single strike from Stilian Petrov took Celtic to within two victories of retaining their Scottish Premier League title.

But Martin O'Neill's side were never in danger of losing as Dundee United arrived intent on simply avoiding another thumping in Glasgow.

Petrov's second goal in two games arrived four minutes before the break.

United did attempt to be more positive in the second half but rarely looked like salvaging a point.

Tom Boyd runs into United's Charlie Miller
Charlie Miller (right) put in a dangerous tackle
O'Neill's side had maintained their 10-point lead at the top with a draw at closest challengers Rangers last week.

But they were still under strength with John Hartson, Alan Thompson and Bobo Balde suspended, while Chris Sutton, Joos Valgaeren and Bobby Petta were still recovering from injuries.

O'Neill made two changes from last week's trip to Ibrox with veteran skipper Tom Boyd returning and mercurial playmaker Lubo Moravcik coming into the side for Balde and Hartson.

Dundee United still had slim hopes of making the top six having beaten Hearts last week.

Manager Alex Smith made one change from Tynecastle, with Jamie McCunnie coming in for David Winters.

There was a party atmosphere in the Celtic Park sunshine and United were immediately under pressure.

Young defender Stephen Crainey came close to opening the scoring but the ball drifted wide from his outstretched foot.

Celtic eventually brought United goalkeeper Paul Gallacher into the action after 23 minutes.

Larsson pealed off his marker and got on the end of Steve Guppy's corner.

But Gallacher showed great agility to touch the Swedish star's header over the bar.

Paul Lambert challenges Craig Easton
Paul Lambert challenges Craig Easton
It was 33 minutes before United brought Celtic's Robert Douglas into the action, but the Scotland goalkeeper comfortably held Danny Griffin's free kick.

Petrov gave Celtic the lead their possession deserved after 41 minutes.

He exchanged passes with Larsson before cooly slotting the ball past Gallacher.

Former Rangers midfielder Charlie Miller incensed the crowd just moments later after a crude challenge on Paul Lambert.

Celtic piled on the pressure after the break but United defended resolutely.

When Celtic did get through, Gallacher saved well to stop a Petrov volley and a curling drive from Moravcik.

Substitute Jamie Smith also cracked a drive off the underside of the bar.

Celtic: Douglas, Mjallby, Boyd, Crainey, Agathe, Lennon, Lambert, Petrov, Guppy, Moravcik (Smith 72), Larsson. Subs Not Used: Gould, Sylla, McNamara, Tebily.

Booked: Lennon.

Goal: Petrov 41.

Dundee Utd: Gallacher, McCunnie, Lauchlan, Griffin, McCracken, Duff (Paterson 67), Venetis (Lilley 81), Easton, Aljofree, Miller, Thompson (Winters 86). Subs Not Used: Jarvie, Cocozza.

Booked: Aljofree, Miller, McCunnie.

Attendance: 58,392

Referee: M McCurry.

BBC Scotland's David Begg
"Celtic, with total domination in the match, finished easy winners"
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"We won very, very convincingly"
Dundee Utd manager Alex Smith
"We defended well and worked very hard"
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