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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 November, 2003, 14:19 GMT
Five-star Celtic thump United
Chris Sutton celebrates at Tannadice
Chris Sutton scored a hat-trick for Celtic at Tannadice
Dundee United 1-5 Celtic

Chris Sutton grabbed a hat-trick and Henrik Larsson a double as Celtic eased Dundee United aside to consolidate their place at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

Martin O'Neill's side have now scored 24 goals in their last five league games, Jim McIntyre's late consolation for United being the first the Glasgow outfit have conceded since 27 September.

And they hardly had to move out of third gear before claiming their latest convincing victory.

O'Neill had left out the four players who suffered midweek disappointment in the Euro 2004 qualifiers: Rab Douglas, Jackie McNamara, Shaun Maloney and John Hartson.

Alan Thompson, Liam Miller and Johan Mjallby returned to the starting line-up.

United's Ian McCall stuck by the same 11 who drew 2-2 with Hibernian and will be left wondering if the story might have been different had an early refereeing decision gone their way.

McCall's side appeared to have taken the lead after two minutes, but what looked like a valid goal was chopped off by Kenny Clark.

Barry Robson whipped in a cross that eventually fell to Billy Dodds at the back post.

The striker drilled the ball home, only for Clark to rule that Jim McIntyre had been climbing on the back of Bobo Balde.

United's bright start petered out and a Stilian Petrov cross found its way to Thompson 12 yards out, but the midfielder's shot slipped just wide of the post.

Goalkeeper Paul Gallacher got down well to hold a Sutton header after 32 minutes, but the English striker made no mistake a minute later.

Chris Innes appeared to lose his balance and the Celtic striker pounced to drive the ball into the far corner of the net from 16 yards.

Henrik Larsson shows his joy at Tannadice
Henrik Larsson scored two and set up another for Celtic
Celtic were forced to make two changes at half-time, McNamara coming on for Stanislav Varga in defence and Douglas taking over in goal from Magnus Hedman.

United also suffered an injury, Collin Samuel replacing winger Robson.

Three goals in six minutes killed off United.

Larsson stole in ahead of Alan Archibald to head home a Petrov corner after 52 minutes.

The scorer then turned provider, his cross deceiving Gallacher, who could only turn the ball on to the bar and Sutton was there to tap it over the line.

Larsson added to the goalkeeper's embarrassment by turning inside his marker and driving the ball home from 22 yards through Gallacher's arms.

United gave those home fans who had not yet left the ground something to cheer when McIntyre dispossessed Didier Agathe and his drive from the edge of the box took a deflection past Douglas.

But Sutton completed his hat-trick after 82 minutes, when he was tripped by Archibald at the edge of the box before sending the ball past Gallacher from the penalty spot.

Dundee Utd: Gallacher, Wilson, Archibald, Innes, McCracken, Robson (Samuel 45), Easton, McLaren, McInnes, Dodds, McIntyre.
Subs Not Used: Jarvie, Griffin, James Paterson, Kerr.

Booked: Innes.

Goal: McIntyre 76.

Celtic: Hedman (Douglas 45), Balde, Varga (McNamara 45), Mjallby, Thompson, Lennon, Petrov, Miller, Agathe, Larsson (Maloney 68), Sutton.
Subs Not Used: Hartson, Wallace.

Booked: Varga, Sutton.

Goals: Sutton 34, Larsson 52, Sutton 56, Larsson 58, Sutton 82 pen.

Attendance: 10,802

Referee: K Clark

ALSO IN THIS SECTION Scottish Deadline Day as it happened
Celtic 4-1 Kilmarnock
Hearts 1-0 Dundee
Ross County 1-0 Hibernian

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