Dundee United 2-3 Celtic

Last updated : 21 March 2005 By Kevin Smith
A Craig Bellamy hat-trick at Tannadice ensured a return to the top of the SPL for Celtic yesterday. Bellamy scored all of Celtic's three goals in a hard-fought match against Dundee United.

It was always going to be a tough game with United having recently parted company with manager Ian McCall. Teams always seem to up their game when in between managers and this was certainly the case with United yesterday.

The only change from Wednesday's win at Inverness was the return of Stan Varga, who took the place of Stefane Henchoz. Chris Sutton made the substitute's bench.

It took Bellamy only five minutes to get going, when he peeled away from his marker to latch onto a Jackie McNamara pass. Bellamy shot from fourteen yards out past the United 'keeper. It was the start we had hoped for, and a goal that should have settled any nerves going into the game.

According to the ticket office at Celtic Park there were plenty of returned tickets for the game, but there wasn't any apparent empty spaces in the away support.

United, to their credit, gradually came back into the game and equalised after 24 minutes. Celtic's defence looked all over the place when Jim McIntyre drilled the ball into the Celtic net.

Too many times this season have we resorted to punts upfield towards John Hartson and Chris Sutton rather than playing football on the ground. With Craig Bellamy around though, we are playing some neat stuff reminiscent of The King in the ast few seasons.

Bellamy got Celtic back into the lead with around ten minutes remaining until half time, in what will be a contender for goal of the season. Ulrik Laursen picked the Welshman out and from outside the area and from a tight angle, Bellamy rattled the ball off the inside of the post and into the net. What a finish.

We could have done with another before half time, which would probably killed the game off but it wasn't to be. United were coming back into the game immediatley into the second half and Rab Douglas made a few great saves.

John Hartson, who had another poor game, made way for Chris Sutton with half an hour remaining.

Dundee United equalised once again through Barry Robson with 18 minutes remaining. The ball slipped under Neil Lennon's feet, which allowed Robson to strike past Douglas.

The goal was a wake-up call to Celtic, who had been poor throughout the second half. We came out and started playing better stuff once United's second went in, and there's no prizes for guessing who got Celtic's winner.

A long kick upfield from Rab Douglas was headed on by Chris Sutton. Craig Bellamy took one touch on his chest then produced a wonderful finish to make the scoreline 3-2 to the visitors.

Rab Douglas pulled off what may well be the best save of his career in the dying minutes of the match, from a Barry Robson free-kick. Prior to this we also cleared a shot off the line.

But the final whistle brought cheers of joy from the Celtic support, and as Bellamy departed with the match ball in hand, cries of "We're gonna win the league" were heard from the Celtic support.

Out last three games have been awesome. A great performance against Dunfermline last week followed by a potential banana-skin at Inverness midweek was only topped by going top yesterday, and what a performance from Bellamy.

The only downside to the day was Chris Sutton walking off the park, it appears he has pulled his hamstring once again.

We have a welcome week off with Scotland travelling for their humping in Milan on Saturday. We are top of the league and intend to stay there until May.

We shall not be moved.

Celtic: Douglas, Balde, McNamara, Varga, Laursen, Lennon, Petrov, Thompson, McGeady, Bellamy, Hartson (Sutton)

Come On The Hoops Man Of The Match: Craig Bellamy

Come On The Hoops Moment To Remember: Bellamy's third goal

Come On The Hoops Moment To Forget: Some of the poor defending on show from Celtic