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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Five-star Celtic thrash United
Shaun Maloney slots the opening goal past Paul Gallacher
Shaun Maloney started the scoring at Celtic Park
Celtic 5-0 Dundee United

Celtic eased Dundee United's rebuilt team aside as easily as they had marched into the Champions League group stages in midweek.

United had arrived promising to show that Ian McCall's revolution was no false dawn after last weekend's early promise was undone by a late capitulation at home to Hibernian.

But goals from Shaun Maloney, Didier Agathe and Alan Thompson before the break meant there was little to distinguish Saturday's performance from a similar scoreline when they visited Celtic Park last season.

Celtic may still lack great flair in midfield, but their victory - completed by further goals from Jackie McNamara and Henrik Larsson - was as clinical as it had been in midweek in Budapest.

Striker Chris Sutton dropped out through his continuing domestic suspension, but that did little to disturb the momentum gathered from a 4-0 win over MTK Hungaria that all but ensures their place in the money-spinning rounds of European football.

McNamara, Liam Miller and Shaun Maloney were handed starting places, while Magnus Hedman took over in goal from Rab Douglas, who had some nervous moments in midweek.

Barry Robson's red card during last week's defeat by Hibernian meant the United winger was out suspended and he was replaced in the starting line-up by Scotland Under-21 international David McCracken.

United should have taken the lead after just two minutes after Hedman lost his bearings.

Jim Paterson's cross found Collin Samuel free in the box, but the Trinidad and Tobago international's header did not have enough power to cross the goal-line before Stanislav Varga was able to clear off the line.

United's defence was disrupted after nine minutes, when Scott Paterson was stretchered off - with an injury that will keep him out of action for up to a month - and replaced by Craig Easton.

Celtic capitalised two minutes later, Maloney's back-heel fortuitously reaching Larsson, who played it back into the path of his unmarked striking partner to drive home from 16 yards.

Didier Agathe and Henrik Larsson celebrate at Celtic Park
Didier Agathe and Henrik Larsson were both on the scoresheet
A Larsson header struck the crossbar before Celtic eventually doubled their lead in the 27th minute.

Full-back Alan Archibald appeared to let a Thompson cross drift over his head at the back post, where Agathe diverted the ball home with the bridge of his nose.

Celtic went three up moments before the break, when Larsson was hauled down as he attempted to round goalkeeper Paul Gallacher and Thompson swept home the penalty kick.

United were more of an attacking force after the break without seriously threatening Hedman.

A Varga drive crashed off the United post before McNamara finished a fine passing movement between himself, Thompson and Larsson by driving the ball into the roof of the net from 20 yards.

Larsson adding the icing on the cake six minutes from the end when he broke clear before chipping over the stranded Gallacher.

Celtic: Hedman, Balde, Varga, Valgaeren (Sylla 68), Agathe (Beattie 74), Miller, McNamara, Petrov (Smith 74), Thompson, Larsson, Maloney.
Subs Not Used: Douglas, Lennon. Booked: Petrov, McNamara.

Goals: Maloney 12, Agathe 27, Thompson 45 pen, McNamara 67, Larsson 84.

Dundee Utd: Gallacher, James Paterson, Archibald, McCracken, Scott Paterson (Easton 9), McInnes, Kerr, Miller (McIntyre 64), Griffin, Dodds (Wilson 75), Samuel .
Subs Not Used: Bullock, Coyle.

Booked: Archibald, Kerr.

Attendance: 57,658

Referee: A Freeland

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