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Celtic 1 Motherwell 0 match report: Gary Hooper"s 18th of the season extends Bhoys" lead

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0: Hooper's 18th of the season extends Bhoys' lead at the summit

PUBLISHED:

17:05 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 2 January 2013

Gary Hooper's late strike gave Celtic victory over Motherwell in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League encounter at Parkhead.

Hoops keeper Fraser Forster made a brilliant save from Tom Hateley's penalty, awarded for Kelvin Wilson's challenge on Jamie Murphy, just before the Englishman converted a Georgios Samaras cross from close range with 11 minutes remaining.

Not for the first time this season at home, though, the champions ended up struggling to get three points from a match that should have been over by the interval.

Well keeper Darren Randolph kept Celtic at bay with a series of saves although there were some glaring misses too before Hooper pounced to take Neil Lennon's side into the winter break nine points clear of Inverness at the top of the table.

It's that man again: Gary Hooper slots past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph

It's that man again: Gary Hooper slots past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose (Rogne 84), Wilson, Izaguirre, Commons (McGeouch 82), Kayal (Watt 72), Wanyama, Mulgrew, Samaras, Hooper. Subs not used: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, Chalmers.

Booked: Mulgrew, Kayal, Wanyama, Forster.

Goal: Hooper 79.

Motherwell: Randolph, Hateley, Kerr, Ramsden, Hammell, Humphrey, Law, Lasley, Francis-Angol (Daley 86), Ojamaa (McHugh 86), Murphy. Subs not used: Hollis, Higdon, Carswell, Hetherington, Cummins.

Booked: Ojamaa, Lasley.

Referee: Steven McLean.

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However, Motherwell manager Stuart
McCall, set to lose forward Murphy to Sheffield United this week, will
wonder how different it might have been had Hateley scored from the
spot.

Lennon made four changes and returned
to a back four after admitting three at the back did not work in the
1-0 defeat by Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday.

In came Adam Matthews, Beram Kayal,
Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew with skipper Scott Brown, Mikael
Lustig, Lassad Nouioui and Thomas Rogne dropping out, the latter two on
the bench.

Motherwell showed two changes with
Fraser Kerr and Zaine Francis-Angol in for Shaun Hutchinson and Michael
Higdon, the big striker consigned to the bench where he watched the home
side's whirlwind start suggest a demolition job.

Samaras had the ball in the net from Commons' cross in the second minute but was flagged offside.
Commons then flashed a shot from the edge of the box just wide after
being set up by Hooper, who then turned and drove wide after taking a
Kayal pass with his back to goal.

In the seventh minute Randolph made a
fine save from Hooper's stab from close range after more good work on
the left from Samaras, before tipping stand-in skipper Mulgrew's curling
free-kick over the bar for a corner.

Hands on: Fraser Forster saves Tom Hateley's penalty

Hands on: Fraser Forster saves Tom Hateley's penalty

There was no let-up in the pressure
on the Motherwell goal and moments later Randolph flew to his left to
pluck a goal-bound Commons shot out of the air.

The Hoops support groaned once more
when Victor Wanyama then missed Mulgrew's corner altogether from eight
yards, allowing Well to clear their lines.

Murphy, skipper for the day, should
have put the visitors ahead following a break in the 20th minute when he
was played in by Keith Lasley but he lashed the ball over the bar.

Defender Efe Ambrose guided Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick past the near post from six yards out.
Motherwell slowly grew in confidence as the first half wore on.

Mixed emotions: Neil Lennon applauds Hooper's winner

Mixed emotions: Neil Lennon applauds Hooper's winner

In the 37th minute Murphy tested
Forster with a drive from the edge of the box and moments later curled a
shot from 14 yards past the far post after working his way past Kayal
and into a good shooting position.

Samaras had a low drive from 20 yards saved by Randolph.

With seconds remaining Ambrose missed
the chance of the half when Randolph dropped Wanyama's header from a
Mulgrew corner, the Parkhead defender hooking the ball over the bar from
barely two yards.

Celtic had an unconvincing start to
the second period but with six minutes gone Randolph tipped a deflected
shot from Wanyama over the bar.

Celtic dropped the tempo which
allowed Well to breath slightly easier but Randolph was still seeing
plenty of the ball, making another decent save from Commons'
right-footed drive from 25 yards in the 67th minute.

Watching brief: Norwich boss Chris Hughton was running the rule over potential targets at Parkhead

Watching brief: Norwich boss Chris Hughton was running the rule over potential targets at Parkhead

Both sides were taking turns to
attack but Motherwell were handed a great chance to take the lead when
referee Steven McLean adjudged Wilson to have tripped Murphy in the box.

There was some concern as to whether
Hateley had the ball on the spot or not – and Forster was booked for
pointing this out – but when the Motherwell player blasted his shot to
his left the Celtic flew across to make a great save.

The incident seemed to energise
Celtic and they were soon in the lead when Hooper played the ball to
Samaras and ran into the box to collect the return pass and slip the
ball under Randolph from six yards.

There were some nervy moments before the final whistle as Motherwell went for broke but in the end Celtic deserved their win.

Hibs 1 Celtic 0: match report

Hibs 1 Celtic 0: Griffiths halts Hoops' title charge as champions suffer shock defeat

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 29 December 2012

Leigh Griffiths' 14th goal of the season gave Hibernian victory over Celtic in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Easter Road.

The on-loan Wolves striker struck in the eighth minute when he rounded Hoops keeper Fraser Forster and squeezed the ball in from an acute angle.

The visitors dominated almost totally thereafter but huffed and puffed when not being denied by Hibees keeper Ben Williams, who had a fine afternoon.

Winner: Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game

Winner: Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game

Match facts

Hibernian: Williams, Clancy (Maybury 58), McPake, Hanlon, Stevenson, Deegan, Taiwo (Handling 87), Claros, Cairney, Doyle, Griffiths (Wotherspoon 72).

Subs Not Used: Murdoch, Caldwell, Kuqi, Donaldson.

Booked: Deegan, Clancy, Taiwo.

Goals: Griffiths 9.

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Wilson, Rogne (Kayal 70), Izaguirre, Ambrose (McGeouch 87), Brown, Wanyama, Nouioui (McCourt 66),
Samaras, Hooper.

Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Watt, Chalmers, Kidd.

Booked: Ambrose.

Att: 16,805

Ref: Craig Thomson

Although Eoin Doyle had two good chances before the break to double the home side's lead with Gary Deegan missing another in the second-half, these three points belonged to the Leith side's resolute rearguard who could have seldom withstood such a battering.

Celtic travelled to Glasgow having built up a head of steam with six successive wins but manager Neil Lennon made three changes to his starting XI with defenders Thomas Rogne and Mikael Lustig and striker Lassad Nouioui in for Charlie Mulgrew, Beram Kayal and Tony Watt with the latter two dropping to the bench.

Hibs showed two changes to the side which began the 1-0 home defeat to Ross County on Boxing Day.

Pat Fenlon drafted in defender Lewis Stevenson and midfielder Jorge Claros for David Wotherspoon and Ryan McGivern, the former starting as substitute.

The visitors, playing in all black, had Efe Ambrose, Rogne and Kelvin Wilson as their back three in a 3-5-2 formation which looked ropey in the early stages, even before Hibs took the lead.

Two minutes after Lustig's free-kick from 25 yards was comfortably saved by Williams, the home side were ahead as the Celtic defence again hesitated.

Griffiths raced on to Paul Hanlon's long ball chased by Rogne and when Forster raced out to meet him, the Hibs striker took the ball wide of the keeper before sliding it with great composure into the net from almost on the bye-line.

Missed chance: Celtic's Efe Ambrose (in air) puts the ball over the crossbar

Missed chance: Celtic's Efe Ambrose (in air) puts the ball over the crossbar

That goal was not in the Celtic script but in the 12th minute Hibs should have been two ahead when Doyle met a long Griffiths free-kick with his head six yards out his limp effort went straight to Forster.

The champions fought back and Gary Hooper hit the post from a Georgios Samaras pass but the flag was up for offside and as the game swung from end to end, Griffiths was also flagged as Doyle's cross-cum-shot evaded him at the back post.

In the 24th minute, with the Parkhead side beginning to turn the screw, Rogne headed a Lustig corner over the bar.

Celtic had changed to 4-4-2 with Ambrose moving into midfield and it was his mazy run towards the Hibs box where he was fouled by Gary Deegan, which earned the Leith midfielder a booking, which brought the next chance for the visitors.

However, Lassad's curling free-kick from 25 yards went high over the bar.

Hibs, increasingly ragged and occasionally desperate, could hardly get out of their own half as Celtic pressed hard for the leveller.

However, four minutes from the interval Doyle missed another great chance he blazed over the bar from 12 yards with only Forster to beat, after getting the break of the ball.

Dejected: Fraser Forster leaves the field following Celtic's surprise defeat to Hibs

Dejected: Fraser Forster leaves the field following Celtic's surprise defeat to Hibs

There was no let up from the Parkhead men when the second half started and in the opening minutes the ball flew in and around the Hibs box, without finding any takers.

The home side could find no respite yet in the 55th they had another good chance when Griffiths took a Doyle pass and laid it off to Deegan but he seemed to stub his two in his attempted shot from 10 yards and the ball trundled through to Forster.

Moments later, there was an appeal for a penalty when Doyle was challenged by Emilio Izaguirre in the Celtic box but referee Craig Thomson pointed for a goal kick.

It seemed a matter of time before the champions and SPL leaders would draw level.

In the 77th minute midfielder Victor Wanyama's 30-yard drive screamed just over the bar, before Williams made a decent save from Paddy McCourt, who had replaced Lassad, with skipper Scott Brown knocking the rebound over.

Moments later, after Ambrose had scooped the ball over from close range, Williams made a great save from Hooper, clawing his shot away from 14 yards for a corner which the Hibs' rearguard again defended.

There was time for Williams to make another save, this time from Kayal, who had earlier come on for Rogne, and somehow the final whistle sounded with Hibs having held out for three points.

Celtic 4 Ross County 0: Gary Hooper scores double as Bhoys cruise to win

Celtic 4 Ross County 0: Hooper at the double as Bhoys coast to festive win

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UPDATED:

18:11 GMT, 22 December 2012

A Gary Hooper brace after the break helped Celtic romp to victory over Ross County in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Parkhead.

The home side dominated the first half with Staggies goalkeeper Mark Brown forced into several saves, although former Celtic man Rocco Quinn and Alex Cooper both missed great opportunities for the visitors.

However, when Celtic skipper Scott Brown struck a minute after the interval the Highlanders' resistance was broken, and Hooper helped himself to two classic poacher's goals before substitute James Forrest capped his return to action after being out since October with a hamstring injury by grabbing the fourth.

Heading for victory: Gary Hooper scores Celtic's third goal

Heading for victory: Gary Hooper scores Celtic's third goal

MATCH FACTS

Celtic: Forster, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew, Brown, Kayal (Forrest 58), Wanyama, Samaras (Herron 83), Nouioui (Watt 75), Hooper.
Subs not used: Zaluska, Rogne, McCourt, McGeouch.
Bookings: Wilson

Ross County: Brown, Fitzpatrick, Munro, Boyd, Kovacevic, Kettlewell (Glen 88), Brittain, Vigurs, Quinn (Lawson 77), Cooper (Corcoran 54), McMenamin.
Subs not used: Fraser, Tokely, Macphee, Ross.
Bookings: Munro, Kettlewell, Brittain.

Att: 49,428.
Ref: Euan Norris

The Scottish champions were drawn against Italian giants Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League on Thursday, but the exciting prospect of those games to be played in February and March did not spill over into this pre-Christmas fixture, especially in the first 45 minutes when a half-filled Celtic Park was subdued.

However, manager Neil Lennon will have been happier with his side's ruthlessness in the second period as the moved five points ahead of Inverness at the top of the table. And there was the bonus of seeing Forrest back in action.

Lennon was forced into two changes to his starting eleven. Left-back Emilio Izaguirre and striker Lassad Nouioui came in for Adam Matthews and Mikael Lustig, who had succumbed to ankle and hip complaints respectively.

The visitors also showed two changes with Mihael Kovacevic and Quinn in for Ross Tokely and Mark Fotheringham, with the former starting on the bench.

County took a point from the champions early in the season in Dingwall, but travelled south without a win in their last eight games and it looked ominous when the Hoops took only three minutes to create their first opening.

Izaguirre raced down the left and his cross found Lassad at the back post, but his header was held by Caley's former Celtic keeper Brown, who made a decent save from Charlie Mulgrew's shot on the turn from a Georgios Samaras free-kick moments later.

All smiles: Hooper celebrates his first goal at Celtic Park

All smiles: Hooper celebrates his first goal at Celtic Park

Brown looked to be in for a long
afternoon and in the 11th minute he made a good save from Hooper's
close-range header, after another Izaguirre cross from the left found
the Englishman unmarked in the box.

The
visitors lacked conviction when they did venture up the park, although
five minutes later former Parkhead midfielder Quinn blazed a drive from
25 yards just over the bar, after being played in by Iain Vigurs.

Celtic's early urgency subsided a little, but they still had County tightly in their grip. On the half-hour mark Brown was again called into action to save a decent effort from Lassad before another Parkhead attack was thwarted when Hooper's drive came off the face of Marc Fitzpatrick for a corner, which came to nothing.

As Celtic continued to press, midfielder Beram Kayal had a low drive from the edge of the box saved by Brown before the Highlanders broke with some purpose seconds later with Cooper setting up Quinn, but his hastily-taken shot was too tame to unduly bother Hoops keeper Fraser Forster.

Christmas cheer: James Forrest celebrates scoring Celtic's fourth goal

Christmas cheer: James Forrest celebrates scoring Celtic's fourth goal

Seconds from the break, with the Hoops defence static, Quinn set up Cooper, but England call-up Forster came to Celtic's rescue with a fine blocking save for a corner which prevented the visitors taking an unlikely lead into the interval.

Any chance of a County upset, however, dissipated just over a minute into the second-half when Hooper set up Brown to drive low past his namesake in the County goal from 14 yards. With the pressure off, Celtic relaxed and when Hooper flicked Lassad's cross past Brown with his head in the 53rd minute the points were effectively secured.

Forrest was given a rousing cheer when he replaced Kayal, but it was Hooper who had the fans off their seats again in the 64th minute when he was in the right place to head past Brown after Victor Wanyama's header from a Mulgrew corner was blocked up into the air.

It became a matter of how many Celtic would score and six minutes later Forrest sped into the County box after after taking a pass from Hooper and shot past the helpless Brown.

Lennon was afforded the luxury of giving 18-year-old attacking midfielder John Herron his debut as replacement for Samaras, before Hooper hit the bar from close-range when it looked odds-on he would secure his hat-trick.

Celtic 2 St Mirren 0 match report:

Celtic 2 St Mirren 0: Wanyama and Hooper on target in Parkhead stroll

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UPDATED:

17:41 GMT, 15 December 2012

Goals from Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper either side of the break
gave Celtic a comfortable win over St Mirren in their Clydesdale Bank
Premier League clash at Parkhead.

In the 15th minute of a one-sided first-half peppered by Hoops penalty
appeals, none of which were given, midfielder Wanyama opened the scoring
at the second attempt following a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

Scramble: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (4th L) scores against St Mirren

Scramble: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (4th L) scores against St Mirren

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Ambrose (Izaguirre 72), Wilson, Matthews, Brown, Kayal (McCourt 85), Wanyama, Mulgrew,S amaras (Nouioui 76), Hooper. Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Miku, Rogne, Watt.

Goals: Wanyama 15, Hooper 83.

St Mirren: Samson,van Zanten, McAusland, Goodwin, Dummett, Teale, McGinn, Robertson (Guy 82), McLean, Imrie, Thompson (Parkin 74). Subs Not Used: Chris Smith, McGowan, Carey, Reilly, Barron.

Booked: Goodwin.

Ref: Calum Murray (Scotland).

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Saints showed resilience if nothing else as they withstood a constant Celtic procession towards their goal but seven minutes from time they succumbed again when former Scunthorpe forward Hooper struck from close range, following another Mulgrew corner.

The Buddies' last victory at Celtic Park was in 1990 and since taking over the St Mirren hotseat in 2010 Danny Lennon has failed to manage a point or even a goal against the champions and earlier in the season the Hoops strolled to a 5-0 victory in Paisley.

Thus, there was no surprise that Celtic emerged victors but it should have been a more convincing scoreline. The Parkhead club will discover in Thursday's Champions League draw who they will face in the last-16 of the competition and they will certainly have to be more ruthless if they are to progress further.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon had called it right when he brought Wanyama and Hooper back in to the side for Emilio Izaguirre and Lassad Nouioui who both dropped to the bench.

Saints boss Lennon also made two changes with midfielder Jon Robertson in for suspended stopper Lee Mair and wide-man Dougie Imrie replacing striker Lewis Guy who started as substitute.

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the opening goal

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the second goal

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the opening goal

Celtic started in determined mood and in the fifth minute, following a Mulgrew corner, there was a penalty appeal amid Wanyama's header and Efe Ambrose's subsequent shot but referee Calum Murray ignored the pleas, perhaps blinded by the sheer number of Saints defenders in the box.

The official took more stick from the Hoops fans when he ignored a further penalty claim when it looked like an Adam Matthews cross from the by-line might have hit a Buddies arm and also when he judged Saints skipper Jim Goodwin and defender Paul Dummett had not sandwiched Hooper in the box.

However, moments later that was all forgotten when Wanyama knocked the ball in from close range after his header from a trademark Mulgrew corner had been spilled by Saints keeper Craig Samson.

In the 26th minute, as the home side continued to monopolise possession, striker Georgios Samaras sent a shot from the edge of the box wide of the far post, before the Greek's low drive from 25 yards moments later drew a decent save from Samson.

With the beleaguered Buddies hanging on, but only just, Ambrose flashed a drive over the bar following yet another Mulgrew corner.

So close: Celtic's Scott Brown (2nd R) attempts a diving header

So close: Celtic's Scott Brown (2nd R) attempts a diving header

At first glance. the interval respite looked to have revitalised the visitors.

With three minutes played in the second-half midfielder Kenny McLean combined with Robertson before sending a drive from the edge of the box over the bar.

However, Celtic should have doubled their lead in the 51st minute when Samaras' cross from the by-line to the back post allowed Hooper to set up Scott Brown, whose point-blank header was blocked by Samson, with the Hoops skipper taking a bang in the face for his troubles.

The home fans were growing increasingly irritated by Celtic's apparent determination to walk the ball into the net. Just after the hour-mark, Wanyama, perhaps sensing the mood of the crowd, tried his luck with a 30-yard drive which bounced off Samson but away to safety, before Celtic defender Mikael Lustig headed a Mulgrew corner off the bar, with the Paisley side surviving again.

Despite Celtic's reticence in front of goal the visitors still looked unlikely to level but the Celtic support held its breath during a rare away break in the 66th minute when midfielder John McGinn's left-footed drive had keeper Fraser Forster scrambling down to his left to save.

The home side kept pressing for the second goal and in the 79th minute, after Goodwin was booked for a foul on Hooper 30 yards from goal, Mulgrew sent his curling free-kick over the wall but just past the post.

However, Hooper made sure of the points when he was in the right place to flick in after Mulgrew's corner had landed at his feet a couple of yards out after coming off Marc McAusland.

There was still time for Samson to make another save from Hooper down at his right-hand post but by that time the destination of the points were more than certain.

Gary Hooper: Injury to deny England cap call for Celtic striker

Hooper woe: Injured star set to miss England cap call and Barca clash

PUBLISHED:

23:24 GMT, 6 November 2012

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UPDATED:

23:24 GMT, 6 November 2012

Gary Hooper is set to suffer a double blow by missing out on Celtic’s Champions League clash with Barcelona and a long-awaited England call-up.

Sportsmail understands the FA contacted Celtic on Tuesday to enquire over the 24-year-old’s fitness.

Roy Hodgson will name his squad for the forthcoming international friendly in Sweden on Wednesday and was actively considering a call-up for Hooper, scorer of 11 goals in 18 games this season, including a Champions League strike in Moscow.

So close, yet so far: The FA contacted Celtic over Hooper's availability

So close, yet so far: The FA contacted Celtic over Hooper's availability

Nursing a debilitating hamstring
problem, however, Hooper is a major doubt for the Barcelona clash
tonight, with Celtic also racing to get Georgios Samaras fit in time.

With left-back Emilio Izaguirre facing a six week lay-off and James Forrest crocked, Neil Lennon could be forced to pitch 18-year-old Tony Watt into his starting line-up to face arguably the greatest club side ever assembled.

Asked to assess Hooper's chances, the Parkhead boss admitted: ‘I would say he’ll not play. He’s very, very doubtful. Sammy’s also touch and go and we’ll give him another day. He was out today doing some light training.

'He’s a lot better than he was yesterday, so we’re hoping in another 24 hours he’ll be good to go.

'Even if he starts, there’s a possibility that he might not finish, so we’ll have to be flexible in our thinking about him. We will have a late session tomorrow morning.

'He knows himself and I think he’s pretty confident that he’ll make it but it depends on the reaction he gets overnight from today’s exertions, but we’ve gone pretty easy on him and given him as much chance as possible because we’ll need him. Regardless of the other injuries, we’ll need him.’

Final preparations: Celtic are readying themselves to face Barcelona

Final preparations: Celtic are readying themselves to face Barcelona

Final preparations: Celtic are readying themselves to face Barcelona

Venezuelan striker Miku’s experience
of La Liga could be key to his selection on a night when the boss
believes patience and discipline will be key.

'We’re running out of options,’ said Lennon. ‘You could play (Kris) Commons up front or off somebody.

'We’ve got Watt and we’ve got Miku. I’d have no hesitation about playing Tony. The kid’s fearless and he’s playing very well at the minute and scoring goals. It’s a big ask but sometimes with that lack of fear you can go and be a hero on the night. He’s definitely in our thinking, as is Miku.

‘But that’s the challenge and we’ve got
good depth and players willing to come in. The majority of the squad are
in good nick. You hope these nights will inspire them to go out and do
something special.’

Essex's finest: Loughton-boy Hooper will have to wait for his chance

Essex's finest: Loughton-boy Hooper will have to wait for his chance

There will also be alterations in defence after Izaguirre’s return to form was shattered by a six- week lay-off with a hamstring problem. Thomas Rogne, injured in Dundee on Sunday, is also out for a fortnight.

‘Emilio screwed his hamstring,’ said Lennon. ‘He has been back to his best and plays all the games, but this is a soft-tissue injury and he hasn’t really had one before.

'I don’t know if it’s fatigue, the amount of games or just one of those things that happens. The way he’s flicked the ball on the follow-through he just might have yanked something.’

Celtic were within 30 seconds of an improbable draw in the Nou Camp two weeks ago, but Lennon expects a more difficult game at home.

He believes any kind of result tonight would be a match for some of the club’s finest over the years.

'If you look at our team, then it didn’t cost a lot of money compared to Martin O'Neill and Gordon Strachan's teams,' he said. 'And this Barcelona side has gravitated to another level since we played them in '07-08.

'The performances over the last five years have been at a different level to everyone else.'

Dundee United 2 Celtic 2: Match report

Dundee United 2 Celtic 2: Ambrose blunder gifts Houston a point as Hoops throw away two-goal lead at the death

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UPDATED:

15:40 GMT, 4 November 2012

Dundee United came from two behind in dramatic fashion to grab an unlikely share of the points against sloppy Celtic in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Tannadice.

The Hoops were leading through goals from Miku, his first for the club since signing on loan from Getafe in the summer, and Tony Watt and looked certain to take the points back to Glasgow.

However, in the final minute of normal time United substitute Gary Mackay-Steven, on for Richie Ryan, scored what looked like a late consolation only for Efe Ambrose, on for the injured Thomas Rogne, to put a Barry Douglas cross past his own goalkeeper Fraser Forster in injury time.

Slice of luck: Dundee United players celebrate saving a point at the death against Celtic

Slice of luck: Dundee United players celebrate saving a point at the death against Celtic

MATCH FACTS

Dundee United: Cierzniak, Watson, Dillon, Gunning, Douglas, Flood, Ryan (Mackay-Steven 64), Rankin, Armstrong (Skacel 74), Daly, Russell (Millar 90)

Goals: Mackay-Steven 89, Ambrose OG 90

Subs not used: Banks, McLean, Gardyne, Dow,

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Rogne (Ambrose 20), Wilson, Izaguirre (Miku 49), Brown, Wanyama, Ledley, Mulgrew, Commons (McCourt 82), Watt

Goals: Mike 69, Watt 80

Booked: Izaguirre, Wanyama, Brown, Watt

Subs not used: Zaluska, Lustig, Kayal, Ibrahim

Referee: Willie Collum

Celtic went back top of the SPL table
but it was not the end to the game manager Neil Lennon was looking for
ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League clash with Barcelona at
Celtic Park.

However, United boss Peter Houston,
who watched his side lose against Hearts on penalties in their Scottish
Communities League Cup quarter-final in midweek, will be delighted at
taking a point from a game that looked all over when Watt scored with 10
minutes remaining.

Lennon made three changes to the team which beat St Johnstone 5-0 in the League Cup on Tuesday night.

Adam Matthews, Rogne and Charlie
Mulgrew came in at the expense of Mikael Lustig, Ambrose and Gary
Hooper, the latter not even on the bench.

Houston brought in Douglas for
Michael Gardyne, who started as substitute, which allowed skipper Jon
Daly to resume his place in attack.

It was not until the 13th minute that
fans witnessed their first real piece of goalmouth action when Rogne
headed Scott Brown's cross from the right past the post from no more
than eight yards.

On the way: Miku scores Celtic's opener midway through the second half

On the way: Miku scores Celtic's opener midway through the second half

Relief: Mike celebrates after giving Celtic the lead at Tannadice

Relief: Mike celebrates after giving Celtic the lead at Tannadice

The visitors were busier and more
purposeful but suffered a blow in the 20th minute when Ambrose had to
replace Rogne after the Norwegian stopper limped off with a leg injury.

Moments later, Celtic threatened
again when midfielder Victor Wanyama burst powerfully through the middle
and when Kris Commons sent a cross from wide on the right to the far
post, Watt headed over.

It took a timely intervention by
Douglas in the 28th minute to prevent Commons getting a clear strike on
target from 14 yards after the Hoops midfielder had been played in
Brown, with the ball trickling back to Radoslaw Cierzniak.

Doubling up: Tony Watt was on hand to put Celtic two goals ahead against Dundee United

Doubling up: Tony Watt was on hand to put Celtic two goals ahead against Dundee United

Cause for concern: Celtic celebrations were tempered by an injury worry over Emillio Izaguirre

Cause for concern: Celtic celebrations were tempered by an injury worry over Emillio Izaguirre

The home side were very slowly making
their way into the game and in the 35th minute United midfielder Stuart
Armstrong finished off a fine move by thrashing a drive from 25 yards
over the bar.

Celtic reasserted themselves before the break and should have taken the lead five minutes from the interval.

Mulgrew's whipped-in cross from the
left found Brown unmarked inside the box but the Celtic skipper failed
to get a proper connection on the ball with his head and it flew wide.

The champions almost took the lead
less than a minute after the restart when Watt released overlapping
left-back Emilio Izaguirre inside the United box but the Honduran hit
the outside of the post with his left-footed effort.

Men in the middle: Victor Wangama and John Rankin get stuck in at Tannadice

Men in the middle: Victor Wangama and John Rankin get stuck in at Tannadice

Almost immediately Izaguirre was replaced by Miku, who went up alongside Watt, with Mulgrew moving to left-back.

Moments later United missed their
best chance of the match. Former Celtic midfielder Willo Flood's
powerful long-range shot was spilled by Forster and Johnny Russell
blazed over the bar from around eight yards out.

Then, after Wanyama was booked for a
foul on John Rankin, from Douglas's free-kick United defender Gavin
Gunning stabbed the ball wide from six yards.

Tussle: Celtic captain Scott Brown tries to get away from Dundee United's John Rankin

Tussle: Celtic captain Scott Brown tries to get away from Dundee United's John Rankin

But when Celtic's landmark opener
from Miku arrived soon afterwards it was well deserved. Wanyama
combined with Watt, who played in the Venezuelan, and he calmly chipped
the ball over Cierzniak from 10 yards and raced to take the acclaim of
the Celtic fans, before picking up a booking by referee Willie Collum
for his troubles.

The home side had only themselves to blame when Watt grabbed the Hoops' second with 10 minutes remaining.

A poor clearance from Cierzniak
arrived at the feet of the teenage striker and he bore down on goal
before rifling in a shot before he too was booked for leaving the pitch.

It looked to be all over for United,
even when Mackay-Steven guided the ball past Forster after Kelvin Wilson
had cleared a shot from United substitute Rudi Skacel, on for
Armstrong.

However, there was more drama to
follow in the first minute of added time when Ambrose, at full stretch,
headed a Douglas cross into his own net to leave the travelling fans and
Lennon bemused.

Celtic 5 St Johnstone 0 match report: Kris Commons hat-trick helps Bhoys into League Cup semi-finals

Celtic 5 St Johnstone 0: Lennon gets an explosive response as Bhoys rise to the bait

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UPDATED:

00:10 GMT, 31 October 2012

Neil Lennon lit the fuse on Sunday. Here, he was able to step back and watch the fireworks at Celtic Park.

The Parkhead boss had left his players in no doubt about his fury after Saturday’s dismal 2-0 home defeat from Kilmarnock, delivering a blistering address when he gathered them together 24 hours later.

The message was clear. If there was any more sloppiness or complacency when dealing with domestic business then the perpetrators could prepare for a stint in the stand.

Kris is more like it: Commons slams home the second-half penalty which completed his hat-trick

Kris is more like it: Commons slams home the second-half penalty which completed his hat-trick

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Ambrose (McCourt 71), Wilson, Izaguirre, Commons, Brown (Matthews 64), Wanyama, Ledley, Hooper (Mulgrew 46),
Watt. Subs not used: Zaluska, Kayal.

Booked: Watt, Ambrose, Lustig.

Goals: Commons 28, 32, Hooper 38, Commons 57 (pen), Mulgrew 61.

St Johnstone: Mannus, Miller, Anderson, McCracken, MacKay, Millar, Murray Davidson (Robertson 64), Moon, Craig, Vine (MacLean 46), Tade (Hasselbaink 74). Subs not used: Tuffey, Scobbie.

Booked: MacKay, Anderson, Miller, Hasselbaink.

Att: 14,399.

Ref: Bobby Madden.

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It’s safe to say the warning was
heeded. A strong Celtic line-up — showing five changes from the weekend —
simply decimated St Johnstone to march into the semi-finals of the
League Cup. This was decisiveness in action.

Kris Commons led the way with a
clinical display of attacking prowess. The winger unquestionably scored
twice and laid claim to a hat-trick after his strike was deflected in by
Liam Craig for the opener. Gary Hooper and Charlie Mulgrew also placed
their names on a scoresheet which could have witnessed even more
entries.

The Perth side had defeated Celtic
2-1 at McDiarmid Park six weeks ago and were also the last Scottish team
to win at Parkhead prior to last weekend. Yet any hope was swiftly shot
down.

Celtic entered the match with
Lennon’s words ringing in the ears and with the additional motivation of
taking a step closer to the only domestic trophy missing under their
manager’s command. Two successive defeats in the final have left a
bitter taste they are determined to wash away this term.

Dejection: St Johnstone keeper Alan Mannus

Dejection: St Johnstone keeper Alan Mannus reflects on a hard night

The fans, however, remain less
stirred by this competition. The night before Hallowe’en, there was a
vaguely ghostly atmosphere about Parkhead, with the top tier closed and a
crowd of just 14,399 spread around the other seats.

Yet St Johnstone were unable to
capitalise on the lack of intimidation from the stands. Boss Steve Lomas
celebrates his first anniversary in charge this weekend and the
previous 12 months can rarely have delivered such a brutal defeat.

For all that Celtic were excellent in
much of their attacking play, Lomas would have cringed at some of the
efforts to keep them at bay.

It was no surprise to see Lennon make
sweeping alterations to his starting line-up after being left dismayed
by the plunge in performance levels at the weekend.

Out went Adam Matthews, James
Forrest, Beram Kayal, Mulgrew and Miku. In came Mikael Lustig, Scott
Brown, Victor Wanyama, Tony Watt and Hooper. There could be no question
about how seriously the Celtic manager was taking the tie.

Goal machine: Gary Hooper was on the scoresheet once again

Goal machine: Gary Hooper was on the scoresheet once again

Lennon was seeking a greater urgency
than witnessed in their feeble efforts against Killie and certain
individuals immediately answered the call.

Captain Brown always injects an
additional drive to the side and, stationed wide right in midfield, he
looked determined to raise the tempo whenever possible.

One nimble hurdle of Dave MacKay’s
sliding challenge took him into the penalty area, where his cutback was
forced behind by a desperate lunge from Saints centre-half David
McCracken.

Commons then smacked in a low effort
that squirted off goalkeeper Alan Mannus, before Lustig cut a neat pass
to Hooper for the striker to send a snapshot narrowly wide.

Celtic were clearly the dominant
side, yet there was a flicker of concern when Efe Ambrose reprised some
of the sloppiness that pockmarked his performance on Saturday.

The Nigerian over-ran the ball to concede possession to Kevin Moon, who promptly released Liam Craig on the left flank.

With Lennon glaring from the touchline, Ambrose was mightily relieved when a dangerous delivery was eventually cleared.

Crisp strike: Charlie Mulgrew unleashes Celtic's fifth

Crisp strike: Charlie Mulgrew unleashes Celtic's fifth

In truth, however, that was only the
briefest of deviations in a one-way first half. It seemed only a matter
of time before Celtic scored, but Commons took it upon himself to speed
up the process.

The Scotland winger seemed locked in a
one-man mission to torment Mannus as he peppered his goalmouth from
distance before enjoying a slice of good fortune when finally forcing
the opener after 28 minutes. He teased Dave Mackay on the fringe of the
area to engineer enough space to fizz in a right-footed cross-shot that
was diverted into the net by the outstretched foot of Craig.

It took only four minutes for
Commons to double the advantage. Brown fed Lustig down the left and his
clever low cross was gathered by Hooper around 20 yards from goal. He
slipped a through ball for Commons and an angled finish gave Mannus no
hope.

St Johnstone appealed in vain for an offside flag, with captain Mackay venting his anger at assistant referee Alan Mulvanney.

Steven Anderson then cleared a Lustig
header off the line as Celtic continued to rampage forward at will.
That, however, only served to delay a third goal until the 39th minute.
Again, the outstanding Commons was heavily involved as he sprinted free
on the left to deliver a pinpoint centre that was swept into the net by
the grateful Hooper. St Johnstone looked punch-drunk.

Improved performance: Neil Lennon demanded more from his players - and he got it

Improved performance: Neil Lennon demanded more from his players – and he got it

The interval would have come as a
blessed relief to Lomas and his players, but both sides were changed
when they reappeared for the second period.

Saints withdrew Rowan Vine to
introduce Steven MacLean, while Mulgrew replaced Hooper. Mulgrew took up
a role wide on the left, allowing Commons to move closer to central
striker Watt.

The switches did nothing to alter the
flow of proceedings. One fine run by Gregory Tade caused a degree of
panic in the home defence, but that was nothing compared to the disarray
in the Saints backline.

They fell further behind after 56
minutes when Anderson was penalised for tugging back Watt as he turned
to control a Mulgrew cross. Commons drilled in the spot-kick with
minimum of fuss to spark debate about whether or not he had actually
claimed a treble.

Five minutes later, it was 5-0. Watt
drifted wide right to angle in a cross that was brushed away by the
diving Mannus but gathered by Mulgrew at the far post.

For what seemed like an eternity, he
twisted this way and that against Gary Miller before eventually
whipping a left-foot shot into the net. Mulgrew’s composure was
admirable but the defending he faced was pitiful.

Fraser Forster had been a bystander
for so much of the evening but produced late saves from substitutes
David Robertson and Nigel Hasselbaink to set the seal on a satisfying
recovery mission for Celtic.

Celtic 0 Kilmarnock 2 – match report

Celtic 0 Kilmarnock 2: Bhoys show signs of Barca hangover as Killie end 57-year wait

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 27 October 2012

Goals from Cillian Sheridan and Liam Kelly gave Kilmarnock their first win over Celtic at Parkhead for an incredible 57 years.

Former Celt Sheridan set the visitors on the way to their historic victory two minutes before the break when he capitalised on slack play by Efe Ambrose to race clear and round keeper Fraser Forster before scoring into an empty goal.

Midfielder Kelly slammed in the second from the spot just after the hour mark when Hoops left-back Emilio Izaguirre was adjudged to have fouled Rory McKenzie and the spirited Rugby Park men held on for their first success in the east end of Glasgow since 1955.

History boys: Kilmarnock's Liam Kelly helped his side to first win at Celtic in 57 years

History boys: Kilmarnock's Liam Kelly helped his side to first win at Celtic in 57 years

History boys: Kilmarnock's Liam Kelly helped his side to first win at Celtic in 57 years

MATCH FACTS

CELTIC: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose, Wilson, Izaguirre, Forrest, Kayal (Hooper 46), Ledley, Mulgrew, Commons (McCourt 63), Miku (Watt 72). Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Lustig, Rogne, Wanyama.

Booked: Forster.

KILMARNOCK: Bell, McKeown, Nelson, O'Leary, McKenzie (Gros 85), Pascali, Kelly, Johnson, O'Hara, Dayton (Tesselaar 90), Sheridan (Heffernan 69). Subs Not Used: Letheren, Harkins, Perez, Sissoko.

Goals: Sheridan 43, Kelly 62 (pen).

Referee: Crawford Allan (Scotland).

Neil Lennon's men had put in a disciplined, battling performance against Barcelona in the Nou Camp in midweek, only to lose the Champions League clash 2-1 in the final seconds of injury-time.

However, this Clydesdale Bank Premier League performance was at the other end of the scale and they were made to pay for their general lethargy which is sure to infuriate their boss, who had lavished praise on his players for their display against Barca.

Not that this was the exact same side which had come close to getting a point in the Nou Camp.

Into the Celtic team that started in Barca came Adam Matthews, James Forrest, Beram Kayal, Kris Commons and Miku with Georgios Samaras, Scott Brown, Mikael Lustig, Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama dropping out, the latter three on the bench.

Killie had new signing Mahamadou Sissoko, who has joined the club for a third time following his departure from Udinese, among their substitutes with Sheridan leading the attack and 16-year-old Mark O'Hara in midfield.

After the excitement of Europe in midweek, there was a flatness about the early stages which saw a confident Killie side enjoy a fair share of possession, albeit among some dreadful passing from both teams.

The first real moment of excitement came in the 16th minute when Rugby Park defender Rory McKeown did well to head an Izaguirre cross away for a corner under pressure from Miku but the set-piece came to nothing.

In the 26th minute Joe Ledley missed a sitter by stabbing awkwardly at the ball and watching it fly past the post after Miku had set him up with a header from a Commons cross.

In the 39th minute Charlie Mulgrew split open the Killie defence with a perfect pass for Forrest but the Scotland winger drilled his cut-back across the goal too quickly and the ball sped away from danger.

Downer: Celtic manager Neil Lennon couldn't watch at times as his team wilted at home

Downer: Celtic manager Neil Lennon couldn't watch at times as his team wilted at home

The Hoops fans grew increasingly disgruntled and they let their feelings be known when Sheridan gave Killie the lead.

Ambrose, who had swapped places with Mulgrew in central defence, was too casual after taking a pass from Matthews and the Irishman got the break of the ball which left him in a race with Forster.

The Hoops keeper came, then stopped, allowing Sheridan to take possession and he was coolness personified as he rounded Forster to walk the ball towards the empty goal before knocking it in.

Parkhead boss Lennon had seen enough from Kayal and he was replaced by Hooper at the interval.

The former Scunthorpe striker should have levelled in the 53rd minute when Forrest set him up with a cross at the near post but he missed the target.

Forster came to Celtic's rescue moments later, tipping over the bar after James Dayton had run through the middle of the parting Parkhead defence before thundering in a drive from outside the box.

The tension was building and Killie's penalty came in the 61st minute when McKenzie had his heel clipped by Izaguirre just inside the box as he set himself to have a shot after driving at the nervous Hoops defence.

Forster was booked by referee Crawford Allan for delaying the spot-kick being taken but that did not affect Kelly who hammered his shot past the big Geordie.

In the 76th minute Izaguirre had the ball in the Killie net after taking a Paddy McCourt pass but was ruled offside.

Moments later, Forrest's cross from the right broke to Tony Watt 10 yards out but with Bell out of his goal and the Rugby Park defence all over the place, he slashed at the ball which flew over the bar.

With four minutes remaining Bell parried Watt's angled-shot from 16 yards but by that time much of the belief had been sapped from the Hoops players and certainly their fans, who slipped off allowing the small band of Killie supporters their moment of glory at the end.

Tottenham and West Brom want Celtic scout John Park

Tottenham and West Brom target Celtic scout Park for technical role

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 23 October 2012

Celtic chief scout John Park is among the contenders being considered by Tottenham and West Brom for their technical director roles.

Park, who was linked with Liverpool earlier this year, is regarded as one of the best in Europe and is responsible for finding top talent on a budget helping recruit the likes of Victor Wanyama, Beram Kayal and Emilio Izaguirre.

Wanted man: Park is being tracked by Tottenham and West Brom

Wanted man: Park is being tracked by Tottenham and West Brom

Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are all keen on Celtic midfielder Wanyama.

Sportsmail revealed United's interest in the Kenyan powerhouse in July and they are continuing to monitor his progress amid increased interest from other clubs including neighbours Manchester City.

Celtic have offered the 21-year-old a new contract but he is expected to weigh up offers in January, opening the door for a move away. Celtic will not sell cheaply, however, after rejecting an 8million offer from QPR in August.

United, meanwhile, have also been watching Bosnia fullback Ognjen Vranjes, 22, of Russian side Krasnodar. However, current reports back mean they are unlikely to make an offer.

Target: Both the Manchester giants are after Wanyama

Target: Both the Manchester giants are after Wanyama

Neil Lennon says Celtic are hitting form ahead of Spartak Moscow clash

Lennon believes Celtic are hitting form at just the right time for Spartak clash

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 30 September 2012

Neil Lennon believes Celtic have hit the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in perfect time for their Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow on Tuesday night.

The Hoops swept Motherwell away at Fir Park on Saturday to replace the Steelmen at the summit, thanks to a strike from in-form Gary Hooper and an own goal by the unfortunate Well defender Adam Cummins, who compounded a miserable afternoon when he was sent off after the break for a professional foul on Kris Commons.

Celtic could afford to have skipper Scott Brown's penalty saved by Darren Randolph and they were handed an added boost when Georgios Samaras returned for the first time since injuring his elbow on international duty early in September as a second-half substitute.

Delight: Celtic's Scott Brown after the own goal

Delight: Celtic's Scott Brown after the own goal

Lennon said: 'We have gone top of the league so going into the game on Tuesday, that is a good marker for us psychologically.

'We are starting to hit a bit of form which is great.

'The new lads are starting to settle in, we have players back and we will need them.

'We were very motivated going into the game and we picked Motherwell off very well at times.

'They found it a little bit difficult to adjust to the movement and we were able to get down the sides and round the back of them because we isolated their two centre-halves and some of the passing to get the boys in was very good, so overall it was a big performance.

'It was great to see Samaras back in full flow, and I thought Emilio Izaguirre was brilliant, he set a really good tempo and example and it augurs well but we know Tuesday is a different animal.

'We won't have anywhere near the bulk of possession or chances created but it is a huge confidence-booster going into that game.'

Form: Neil Lennon thinks Celtic have hit the top at the right time

Form: Neil Lennon thinks Celtic have hit the top at the right time

Any notions that Motherwell could be genuine contenders for the SPL title this season came to an abrupt end against a rampant Celtic side who could and should have scored more, notwithstanding the fact that the home side played most of the second half with 10 men.

Indeed, Fir Park manager Stuart McCall was pleased to escape without suffering a bigger drubbing.

'We wanted to do better but their movement was outstanding,' he said.

'We have a young side and there was a certain naivety, we squeezed too high.

'So it could have been more but one thing was, my players didn't chuck it.

'We said before the game that regardless of what the score was, they had to stick at it and they certainly did.'