SPL

Celtic remain second despite running riot against Dundee

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

Celtic hit form with a 7-1 victory over Dundee following a first-half goal spree at Parkhead.

Cameron Carter-Vickers started the rout in the seventh minute and goals from Adam Idah, Matt O’Riley and Daizen Maeda had Celtic four up before the half-hour mark.

Greg Taylor and Callum McGregor made it six before the break and Daniel Kelly marked his league debut with a brilliantly-taken goal.

Dundee were down to 10 men through Finlay Robertson’s red card when they pulled a goal back from Michael Mellon, although the atmosphere had already lost a bit of an edge following Rangers’ comeback at Kilmarnock.

The Light Blues’ 2-1 victory keeps them two points ahead of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership.

However, Celtic have moved back to one behind on goal difference and secured a morale boost with their biggest win of the season after struggling to find their groove since the winter break. They had drawn twice in their previous four league matches and needed stoppage-time winners in the other two.

Manager Brendan Rodgers had called for positivity from the stands on the eve of the game after referencing the dissent that greeted one of his substitutions during the champions’ late win at Motherwell on Sunday.

His players ensured there was no opportunity for any negativity to emerge, although Dundee twice came close in the first two minutes through Curtis Main and Owen Beck.

Beck had kept Maeda quiet at Dens Park on Boxing Day but Yang Hyun-jun got an early edge when he got past him and drew a foul which earned the on-loan Liverpool left-back a booking.

There was further punishment from O’Riley’s free-kick as Carter-Vickers rose above Amadou Bakoyoko to head home his first goal of an injury-disrupted season.

Beck was fortunate not to receive another booking from referee Matthew MacDermid for a reckless tackle on Yang and Celtic continued to put the visitors under pressure as O’Riley was twice denied.

The home support were given another boost when news emerged of Kilmarnock’s opener and Idah had them celebrating in the 18th minute with a brilliant header from Alistair Johnston’s cross to net his fifth goal since joining four weeks ago.

O’Riley ran on to Taylor’s perfect cross to head home four minutes later and the midfielder turned provider as his pass found Maeda’s run across the box. The Japan international had plenty to do but a brilliant touch fooled Joe Shaughnessy and he curled into the far corner.

O’Riley sent a brilliant volley off the bar from 22 yards and Taylor’s run into the box was rewarded when Johnston’s cross ultimately fell for him as the left-back stroked home from eight yards in the 36th minute.

Main had a goal disallowed for offside following a VAR check before McGregor drilled home in stoppage time after an exchange of passes with Taylor with Yang once again involved.

Celtic went off at half-time amid noise akin to a Champions League night but the atmosphere dampened down as news of two quickfire goals from Rangers filtered through early in the second half.

Dundee manager Tony Docherty had made three half-time changes and his side looked more compact but half-time substitute Kelly showed composure beyond his 18 years to curl into the top corner after Yang’s low cross came to him on the edge of the box.

The Celtic Park DJ dug out the Magnificent Seven theme tune that used to follow Henrik Larsson’s many Parkhead goals and more fanfares looked on the cards.

Luis Palma curled off the Dundee bar and Robertson received a second yellow card for a late challenge on Johnston in the 76th minute.

However, it was Dundee who added to the scoring eight minutes later when Mellon volleyed home a cross from fellow substitute Aaron Donnelly.

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