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Sunday, 30 July, 2000, 19:40 GMT 20:40 UK
Celtic new boys off to winning start
Dundee Utd 1-2 Celtic
Celtic's record signing Chris Sutton began to repay some of his transfer fee by scoring the winner at Tannadice but it was fans' favourite Henrik Larsson who stole the show with a wonderful performance.
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill named new signings Sutton and Joos Valgaeren in his side for his first competitive match in charge while United boss Paul Sturrock gave competitive debuts to Neil Heaney, Hasney Aljofree and Jamie Buchan.
The first shot on goal came from United, a weak free kick by Aljofree which Gould held easily.
Celtic's first real opportunity came after five minutes from a free kick on the left which caused some concern in the United penalty area.
Larsson came close to opening his account again in nine minutes with a well-hit free kick which Combe saved superbly down at his left-hand post.
And the young keeper had to be alert seconds later as Valgaeren almost made the dream start to his Celtic career with a good header which Combe parried well.
Celtic were pressing hard in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, with Chris Sutton making his presence known to Jason de Vos in an interesting battle.
Larsson caused more confusion in the United defence with a wicked cross from the right before Eyal Berkovic swept a shot just wide.
United were proving to be their own worst enemies, conceding a number of free kicks in dangerous areas and Berkovic went close with an effort from the left.
With almost half-an-hour gone, United won a free kick of their own and when Jim Paterson hoisted the ball in, Jonathan Gould, who had had little to do in the match, misjudged its flight and was lucky to get enough on the ball to send it out for a corner.
Referee Hugh Dallas played advantage when Paul Lambert was felled and the ball broke to Chris Sutton.
The former Chelsea man was well tackled by de Vos but the ball broke to Larsson on the right of the penalty box and the Swede curled a beautiful left foot shot past Alan Combe.
Combe did well to prevent Celtic from doubling their lead just before the break when he knocked the ball away from Stilian Petrov when it looked as though the Bulgarian would score.
United began the second half in more determined fashion and they manufactured an equaliser after only four minutes of the restart.
As a free kick was swung in from the left, the Celtic defence was static, and with Jonathan Gould nowhere to be seen, David McCracken was left with a simple header into an empty net.
The Swedish star came close himself shortly afterwards, this time an effort from the right went inches wide.
Celtic were unable to find the same fluency in the second half and Steven Thompson missed a wonderful opportunity to put them behind when he headed straight into Gould's welcoming arms from close range.
United were made to rue that miss minutes later when they failed to clear their lines and when Stephane Mahe blasted the ball across goal, Sutton was on hand to turn it into the net for a debut goal.
Larsson almost added a third after skipping by the United defence, but his goal-bound effort hit the back of Celtic substitute Tommy Johnson and rolled wide.
United had a late penalty appeal for handball by Valgaeren waved away by Hugh Dallas, but Celtic thoroughly deserved the three points.
A delighted O'Neill said after the game: "I thought we were magnificent as a team. We have done brilliantly today.
"Commitment, drive and determination are overused words but I thought all the players showed those characteristics today."
Sutton revealed he was not entirely match fit, but relished his first taste of Scottish football.
He said: "It was tiring. I have not done a lot of training. It's good to get 90 minutes under my belt but more importantly to get the three points."
Dundee United: Combe, McCracken, De Vos, Aljofree, Heaney, Hannah, Buchan, Easton, Paterson, Mathie, Thompson.
Subs: Onstad, McQuillan, Venetis, Hamilton, McConalogue.
Celtic: Gould, Stubbs, Valgaeren, Boyd, Mahe, McNamara,
Lambert, Berkovic, Petrov, Larsson, Sutton.
Referee: Hugh Dallas (Scotland)
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