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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 September, 2003, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Celtic hold off Dundee
Bobo Balde rises highest to score
Bobo Balde rises highest to score
Dundee 0-1 Celtic

Celtic produced an impressive defensive display to pick up all three points at Dens Park despite playing much of the game with only 10 men.

Didier Agathe was controversially ordered off after 20 minutes of a first half that was marred by poor refereeing by Dougie McDonald.

The visitors had taken the lead early on through Bobo Balde, although Dundee had started brightly.

But the home side struggled against the 10 men of Celtic, who will be concerned about further injuries picked up by Stephen Crainey and Henrik Larsson.

Dundee took the game to Celtic from the kick-off, with Fabian Caballero testing the visting defence with his trickery.

Nacho Novo should have done better than simply to force a corner after a fabulous run by Caballero, but it required an important challenge from Jackie McNamara to divert a subsequent effort off target.

Despite their excellent start, Dundee found themselves a goal down after eight minutes, although they were unhappy with the referee's decision to penalise Gavin Rae's tackle on Alan Thompson.

Stephen Crainey floated the free-kick into the penalty area and Balde attacked the ball to direct an unstoppable header high past Julian Speroni and into the net.

Speroni was well positioned to deny Henrik Larsson a second after 16 minutes after the Swede had benefited from a deflected John Hartson pass 12 yards out.

With so many injury problems, Celtic had started with an unfamiliar four at the back, but they suffered a further blow after 20 minutes when Crainey hobbled off after a challenge on Rae, with Liam Miller coming on.

Agathe is shown the red card in controversial circumstances
Agathe is shown the red card in controversial circumstances

Then the visitors were reduced to 10 men after Agathe was adjudged to have hauled Novo back as he raced through on goal, although there appeared to have been minimal contact.

Moments later, Jackie McNamara appeared to push Steve Lovell inside the area, but referee Dougie McDonald penalised Lovell for pushing Hartson.

Lovell passed up a glorious opportunity to equalise eight minutes before the break when Novo picked him out at the back post, but the English striker headed over.

Stan Varga almost doubled the Celtic lead when he nipped in front of the Dundee defence to flash a front-post header just wide.

Hartson saw a shot deflected wide at the beginning of the second half as Dundee struggled to find any real rhythm despite their man advantage.

Neil Lennon reacted angrily to a late challenge by Lee Wilkie and when the Dundee fans began to taunt the Celtic player, he made an ill-advised gesture that, fortunately for him, was missed by the officials.

Novo headed tamely wide in one of the few chances the home side were able to create against a stubborn Celtic rearguard.

Celtic suffered another scare late on when Larsson had to go off for treatment, but the Swede was eventually able to continue.

Dundee: Speroni, Mackay (Sara 61), Wilkie, Mair, Hernandez Santos, Rae, Smith (Brady 80), Nemsadze, Novo, Caballero, Lovell (Fotheringham 77).

Subs Not Used: Langfield, Hutchinson.

Booked: Nemsadze, Lovell.

Celtic: Hedman, Varga, Balde, Crainey (Miller 25), Agathe, McNamara, Lennon, Petrov (Maloney 78), Thompson, Larsson, Hartson (Sylla 53).

Subs Not Used: Douglas, Kennedy.

Sent Off: Agathe (25).

Booked: Thompson.

Ref: D McDonald

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