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Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

Celtic 2-2 Dundee United

By Andy Campbell

Georgios Samaras and Barry Robson
Samaras (left) celebrates his opening goal with Barry Robson

Dundee United fought back from two goals down to claim a Scottish Premier League draw against leaders Celtic.

Georgios Samaras gave Celtic a deserved 12th-minute lead with a low drive past goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska.

The Greek forward headed Celtic's second 13 minutes into the second half from Shunsuke Nakamura's cross.

But United pulled one back through Paul Dixon's free-kick on the hour mark and substitute Warren Feeney poked home the equaliser with 13 minutes remaining.

The result means Celtic missed the opportunity to go 10 points clear of nearest rivals Rangers, who play on Sunday.

After a slow start, Celtic began to put their visitors under some pressure with Scott Brown's low drive swerving wide.

Moments later, Nakamura sent Samaras in on goal and the Greek striker's attempted chip drifted wide of Zaluska's right-hand post.

But Samaras was on-target with his next effort as the home side took the lead.

United captain Lee Wilkie tried to let the ball go out on the left-hand side, but Brown stole possession and pulled back for Samaras to side-foot the ball low into the net.

The visitors should have scored a quick equaliser within minutes when Wilkie slipped a pass through to Scott Robertson and the midfielder shot wide from the edge of the box.

Nakamura and Barry Robson both had efforts at Zaluska's goal before the first half drew to a close.

United were more of an attacking threat after the interval, with Danny Swanson and Craig Conway delivering dangerous balls into the Celtic penalty area.

Dundee United striker Warren Feeney scores
Feeney lifts ball past Boruc for United's leveller

Celtic weathered the storm and increased their lead after winning a free-kick on the left-hand side, from which Samaras headed powerfully home.

However, the visitors responded with Dixon's superb free-kick after Morgaro Gomis was fouled on the edge of the box by Celtic captain Stephen McManus.

Dixon was then required to clear Brown's shot on the goal-line after Zaluska failed to claim a Scott McDonald cross.

McManus matched Dixon's heroics at the other end with a clearance from Feeney's shot after the striker had latched on to a loose Robson backpass and rounded Boruc.

But Feeney soon got United's leveller when he met Daly's knock-down with a first-time shot past Boruc.

Celtic had the chance to restore their lead when they were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal, but set-piece specialist Nakmura's effort was high and wide.

United pressed for a late winner with a Daly cross towards Feeney, but Gary Caldwell did well to clear.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:
"In the first half, we were happy with the number of chances we created. If there's anything we regret today, it's probably not taking those chances.

"We didn't start the second half very well, but we got a second goal, but we didn't play common sense (after that).

"And, from being 2-0 down, Dundee United got a goal from nothing really, it was lovely free-kick.

"From then, they got re-energised and played very well. I thought we had enough in our team to hold on."

Dundee United manager Craig Levein:
"We were dreadful in the first half. We were lucky to only be 1-0 down at half-time.

"In the second half we changed things. We lost the second goal at a point when we were doing quite well and then we got a goal and got back into it.

"It was a stunning goal (by Paul Dixon) and it changed the game - that and Warren Feeney's introduction.

"This group of players are never beaten, that's something that is very admirable. They deserved a point today for their second-half performance."

Celtic: Boruc, Wilson (Caddis 46), Caldwell, McManus, Naylor, Nakamura (Mizuno 83), Scott Brown, Hartley, Robson, Samaras (Vennegoor of Hesselink 74), McDonald.
Subs Not Used: Fox, Loovens, O'Dea, Crosas.

Booked: McManus.

Goals: Samaras 12, 58.

Dundee Utd: Zaluska, Dillon, Wilkie, Kenneth, Dixon, Scott Robertson, Flood, Swanson (Feeney 61), Gomis, Conway, Daly.
Subs Not Used: McGovern, Grainger, Sandaza, David Robertson, Kovacevic, Buaben.

Booked: Feeney.

Goals: Dixon 60, Feeney 77.

Att: 59,558

Ref: S Conroy

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Dundee United's Paul Dixon 7.42 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Form blamed for McGeady absence
03 Jan 09 |  Celtic
SPL as it happened
03 Jan 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
03 Jan 09 |  Scottish Premier

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