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Saturday, 21 December, 2002, 16:50 GMT
Celtic see off battling Dundee
John Hartson scores a spectacular opening goal
John Hartson scores a spectacular opening goal
Celtic 2-0 Dundee

Celtic returned to winning ways after a difficult week with a hard-fought victory over a decent Dundee side.

Dundee missed two gilt-edged chances - one from the penalty spot - before John Hartson put Celtic ahead in spectacular style with an overhead kick.

Henrik Larsson put the game beyond the visitors early in the second half with a header but Dundee refused to cave in under persistent pressure.

Dundee started the game in adventurous mood and Nacho Novo drove the ball just over Rab Douglas' bar with six minutes gone.

But Celtic too were keen to get an early goal and Larsson came close on a couple of occasions before Julian Speroni made a tremendous save from one of his own players.

Zurab Khizanishvili, attempting to clear the ball, fired it instead towards his own goal and was relieved to see Speroni save.

Henrik Larsson scores Celtic's second
Henrik Larsson scores Celtic's second
Steve Lovell passed up a great chance after latching on to Fabian Caballero's excellent pass, only to shoot tamely at Douglas with the Celtic defence trailing.

Speroni required lengthy treatment after colliding with a post under pressure from Bobo Balde as they went for a high ball.

But the Argentine keeper had to be alert to stop Larsson getting on the end of Hartson's cutback shortly afterwards.

The visitors should have taken the lead from the penalty spot with just over half-an-hour gone after Balde had tripped Novo, but Caballero's effort was weak and Douglas saved.

Speroni saved superbly from a Hartson header but the Welshman put Celtic ahead from the resultant corner.

The keeper punched the original delivery high into the air and when the ball was played back into the danger area, Hartson's acrobatic scissor-kick beat Speroni.

After a quiet start to the second half, Celtic made sure of the points in 54 minutes.

Larsson celebrates his goal
Larsson celebrates his goal
A measured build-up culminated in Didier Agathe swinging a pin-point cross to the back post where Larsson rose above his marker to head beyond Speroni.

Balde almost got his name on the scoresheet as he attempted to get on the end of an Agathe cross, but the defender could not rise high enough to direct his header goalwards.

Speroni pulled off a terrific double save to deny Chris Sutton and then Paul Lambert at close range as Celtic looked to add to their goal tally with 10 minutes remaining.

Dundee were unfortunate not to pull a goal back a few minutes later after Ulrik Laursen diverted Lovell's cross against his own post with Douglas beaten, before the keeper recovered to dive on the ball.

Jonay Hernandez came close in the final minute from a free kick but by that time it was clearly not Dundee's day.


Celtic: Douglas, Valgaeren, Balde, Laursen, Agathe, Lambert, Petrov, Sutton, Thompson, Hartson (Smith 75), Larsson.

Subs Not Used: Hedman, Fernandez, Lynch, Crainey.

Booked: Sutton, Petrov, Thompson.

Dundee: Speroni, Smith, Wilkie, Khizanishvili (Brady 79), Hernandez Santos, MacKay, Rae, Lovell (Robb 87), Mair, Caballero (Milne 86), Novo.

Subs Not Used: Soutar, Hutchinson.

Booked: Wilkie, Khizanishvili.

Att: 56,162

Ref: Dougie McDonald

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's David Begg
"Celtic maintain their unbeaten home record"
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"We had to win today"
Dundee manager Jim Duffy
"I thought we played very well"
The SPL season gets under way

Weekend games

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