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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Larsson double dumps Dunfermline
Larsson celebrates after giving Celtic the lead
Larsson celebrates after giving Celtic the lead
Celtic 2-1 Dunfermline

The Scottish champions got the defence of their title off to a winning start with Henrik Larsson scoring twice.

Dunfermline rarely threatened Celtic in the first half and Larsson finally made the home side's pressure count with the opening goal in 41 minutes.

The Swede doubled the lead shortly after the break, but Gary Dempsey pulled a goal back in 74 minutes to make the scoreline closer than the balance of play.

Celtic first went close when Larsson and Sutton combined but the Englishman put the ball wide from close range.

Larsson had a shot parried by Pars goalkeeper Marco Ruitenbeek and the striker sent the rebound over the crossbar.

Bobby Petta puts pressure on Lee Dair
Bobby Petta puts pressure on Lee Dair
The flow of play was largely one-way, but Lee Bullen did manage a long-range shot at goal that was easily held by Rab Douglas.

Celtic continued to threaten in search of the opener and Ruitenbeek was called into action to block a 25-yard drive from Sutton just after the half-hour mark.

A blunder by Balde six minutes before the interval gifted possession to Craig Brewster and he lined the ball up for Mason, but the Dunfermline player sent his shot well over.

Sutton was unlucky not to open the scoring a few minutes later when he picked up on the rebound from a Petrov shot, only for his effort to cannon off Andrius Skerla.

Celtic's pressure paid off four minutes before the break when Petta's corner found Larsson inside the six-yard box and he rose, unchallenged, to head Celtic powerfully ahead from just a few yards out.

Gary Dempsey catches Douglas off his line
Gary Dempsey catches Douglas off his line
Dunfermline had a chance just after the hour mark when Jason Dair played the ball on to Crawford but his effort was easily held by Douglas.

With 65 minutes gone, Larsson doubled Celtic's advantage. Petta was fouled by Mason but referee Hugh Dallas signalled for play to continue and the ball broke to the Swede, who produced a delightful lob to send the ball over Ruitenbeek and into the net.

Dunfermline brought on Gary Dempsey after 73 minutes and the substitution proved to be an inspired decision.

Dempsey had been on the park for only a minute when he pulled a goal back, spotting Douglas well off his line and lobbing the ball high over the Celtic goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

With just three minutes remaining, Dunfermline were unlucky not to take a share of the points when Douglas was forced into a superb save to deny a powerful effort from Nicholson.


Celtic: Douglas, Mjallby, Balde, Valgaeren, Sylla, Lennon, Lambert, Petrov, Petta (Crainey 89), Sutton, Larsson (Fernandez 83).

Subs Not Used: Hedman, Hartson, Maloney.

Booked: Sylla.

Dunfermline: Ruitenbeek, Bullen, Skerla, Scott Thomson, Dair, Hampshire (Walker 73), Mason, Nicholson, Kilgannon (Dempsey 73), Brewster, Crawford.

Subs Not Used: Stillie, Nicholls, McLeish.

Booked: Nicholson, Dair.

Att: 57,415

Ref: H Dallas

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Charlie Mann
"The champions got off to a flyer in front of 57,000"
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"We did enough to win"
Celtic striker Henrik Larsson
"We were the team who tried the most today"
 VOTE RESULTS
Who will win the SPL this season?

Celtic
 59.53% 

Rangers
 27.70% 

Other
 12.77% 

17894 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
The SPL season gets under way

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