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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 February, 2004, 16:52 GMT
Celtic 2-1 Dundee Utd
Chris Sutton celebrates his late winner
Chris Sutton celebrates his late winner
Celtic stretched their lead at the top of the league with a win over Dundee United, but were made to battle hard.

After a goal-less first half, Alan Archibald gave the visitors the lead when he prodded past Rab Douglas.

Celtic pressed for an equaliser and Shaun Maloney stabbed the ball across the line with nine minutes left.

Moments later, Stilian Petrov went down in the box and Chris Sutton scored from the spot. Billy Dodds was sent off in the final seconds for a second booking.

The opening stages were largely uneventful, with Charlie Miller's second-minute shot from the edge of the box that flew over the bar the highlight of the first quarter.

The in-form Petrov was first to test Paul Gallacher, but the Bulgarian's long-range effort did not have the power or direction to trouble the United keeper.

Sutton wanted for a penalty after 24 minutes, claiming he was shoved in the back by Archibald, but referee Ian Fyfe saw nothing amiss.

Mark Wilson did well to get back to halt Stephen Pearson as he charged in on goal 10 minutes before half time, but still neither keeper was being overworked.

Derek McInnes also had to thwart Pearson a few minutes later with a fine block inside the box.

Stan Varga missed the best chance of the game so far after 52 minutes when he headed wide from only a few yards out following Sutton's knock-down.

Three minutes later United should have taken the lead after Rab Douglas mysteriously decided to head Bobo Balde's sliced clearance.

The ball fell to Miller, whose first-time shot fell to Dodds, who in turn found Jim McIntyre, but the striker's shot from eight yards was well saved by Douglas.

But United did take a shock lead minutes later when Barry Robson swung a free kick into the box and Archibald prodded the ball past Douglas.

Furious United players surround Petrov after the penalty award
Furious United players surround Petrov after the penalty award
Varga almost claimed an immediate equaliser, but his header from point-blank range was straight at Gallacher.

The United stopper then kept a low drive from Petrov out as Celtic attempted to step up the pressure.

Maloney's shot was deflected over before Stuart Duff cleared Larsson's effort off the line.

Gallacher then brilliantly saved Sutton's attempt before Larsson failed to hit the target from close range.

But the pressure told in the 80th minute when Maloney arrived at the perfect time to side-foot Sutton's cross home.

The drama continued just a minute later when the home side were awarded a penalty following Duff's challenge on Petrov and Sutton sent Gallacher the wrong way.

Former Rangers striker Dodds was sent off in the dying seconds for a second bookable offence.


Celtic: Douglas, Varga, Balde, McNamara, Agathe, Lennon, Petrov, Pearson, Thompson, Larsson, Sutton.

Subs: Marshall, Sylla, Valgaeren, Lambert, Maloney.

Dundee Utd: Gallacher, Wilson, McCracken, Archibald, Duff, Kerr, Miller, McInnes, Robson, Dodds, McIntyre.

Subs: Jarvie, James Paterson, Samuel, Easton, Scotland.

Referee: I Fyfe



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