Georgios Samaras and Anthony Stokes scored first-half goals as Scottish Premiership champions Celtic ran out comfortable winners over Dundee United.

Samaras gave the visitors an early lead with a superb volley from a Kris Commons free-kick.

And strike partner Stokes finished a fine team move to double the lead before the break.

United improved after half-time but Celtic had the better chances and could have added to their tally.

Defeat dents the hosts' European ambitions with Jackie McNamara's side still six points behind Motherwell and Aberdeen, who occupy the third and second places, respectively.

The Tangerines had gone into this one in good form, having lost only once in their previous nine league games.

But the visitors started brightly and, after popping the ball around at pace in the early stages, they were soon rewarded.

Beram Kayal won a free-kick inside the United half and Commons' angled delivery was perfect for Samaras, who beat Gavin Gunning to the ball and volleyed into the top corner from 12 yards.

Gunning had a great chance to level minutes later but the defender blazed over from 15 yards, following a cross from Ryan Dow.

Celtic began to dominate and duly doubled their advantage midway through the half with a wonderfully-executed team goal.

Dundee United defender Keith Watson

Watson tried to boost United's attack in the second but could not find the net

After an expansive passing move, Stokes played a one-two with Commons on the edge of the area and burst past two defenders before firing high past Radoslaw Cierzniak.

Nadir Ciftci's name was taken by referee Craig Thomson for a foul on Kayal, and SPFL young player of the month Liam Henderson quickly followed him into the book for a foul on the Turkish hitman.

Ciftci created a half-chance for the home side just before the break with a fine pass over the Celtic defence, but Dow could not sort his feet out on the edge of the area.

United made a change at the break with Gary Mackay-Steven coming on for Brian Graham.

The home side threatened early in the second half but Keith Watson failed to keep his header down when he found himself free in the box.

Dow then latched on to a delightful Mackay-Steven pass before finishing past Fraser Forster, but the flag was up for offside.

Leigh Griffiths came on for Celtic with Henderson making way, and the striker forced Cierzniak into a decent save minutes after his arrival.

Watson dragged an effort narrowly wide from inside the area and Griffiths went close for the visitors with a curling effort from 20 yards that dropped just wide.

Cierzniak then made a great stop with his feet as Commons found himself through on goal after great work by Virgil van Dijk.

Mackay-Steven tried his luck with a low drive that Forster turned away and the Celtic goalkeeper then saved from Stuart Armstrong's long-range effort, ending United's hopes of reducing their deficit.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (6)

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 12 Watson Booked
  • 26 Robertson
  • 08 Rankin Booked
  • 02 Dillon
  • 05 Gunning
  • 21 Ciftci Booked (El Alagui - 81' )
  • 06 Paton
  • 09 Graham (Mackay-Steven - 45' )
  • 18 Dow (Gauld - 65' )
  • 10 Armstrong

Substitutes

  • 11 Mackay-Steven
  • 16 Wilson
  • 19 Gauld
  • 20 Souttar
  • 25 McCallum
  • 27 Gomis
  • 29 El Alagui

Celtic

  • 01 Forster
  • 08 Brown
  • 03 Izaguirre
  • 33 Kayal
  • 04 Ambrose Emuobo
  • 05 van Dijk
  • 25 Johansen Booked (Mouyokolo - 91' )
  • 15 Commons
  • 09 Samaras (Balde - 88' )
  • 10 Stokes
  • 53 Henderson Booked (Griffiths - 52' )

Substitutes

  • 17 Balde
  • 20 Pukki
  • 22 Mouyokolo
  • 24 Zaluska
  • 28 Griffiths
  • 31 Herron
  • 34 O'Connell
Ref: Craig Thomson
Att: 11,033

Match Stats

Shots

9 9

On target

5 6

Corners

8 7

Fouls

14 8

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Dundee United 0, Celtic 2.

90:00 +2:12 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Dundee United 0, Celtic 2.

90:00 +1:59

Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

90:00 +0:30 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Steven Mouyokolo replaces Stefan Johansen.

87:42 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Amido Baldé replaces Georgios Samaras because of an injury.

87:14

Foul by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).

87:14

Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

83:26

Attempt saved. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

82:58

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Keith Watson.

82:40

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Keith Watson.

82:27

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Andrew Robertson.

80:37 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Farid El Alagui replaces Nadir Ciftci.

80:18

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Fraser Forster.

80:06

Attempt saved. Ryan Gauld (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

79:26

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Fraser Forster.

78:59

Attempt saved. Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

72:10

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Efe Ambrose.

71:16

Delay in match Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) because of an injury.

70:53

Attempt saved. Paul Paton (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

70:32

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Scott Brown.

67:50

Attempt missed. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

67:39

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

67:39

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

64:53 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Ryan Gauld replaces Ryan Dow.

64:28

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

64:28

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

63:57

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Scott Brown.

62:29

Attempt missed. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

60:10

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Radoslaw Cierzniak.

59:41

Attempt saved. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

57:33

Attempt missed. Keith Watson (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

56:48

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Virgil van Dijk.

54:13 Booking

Booking Keith Watson (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

54:06

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

54:06

Foul by Keith Watson (Dundee United).

53:00

Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

52:58

Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

51:27 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Leigh Griffiths replaces Liam Henderson.

48:58 Booking

Booking Stefan Johansen (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

48:54

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).

48:54

Keith Watson (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

47:53

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Keith Watson.

45:33

Attempt missed. Keith Watson (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left.

45:00

Second Half begins Dundee United 0, Celtic 2.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Gary Mackay-Steven replaces Brian Graham.

45:00 +0:04 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Dundee United 0, Celtic 2.

44:21

Attempt saved. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

44:11

Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

44:11

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

38:34

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Ryan Dow.

34:48

Attempt missed. Georgios Samaras (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner.

34:18

Liam Henderson (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

34:18

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

34:00

Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

33:57

Foul by Andrew Robertson (Dundee United).

33:46

Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

33:46

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

32:00

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

31:58

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

31:18

Attempt saved. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

30:21

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

30:21

Foul by Sean Dillon (Dundee United).

29:29 Booking

Booking Liam Henderson (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

29:20

Foul by Liam Henderson (Celtic).

29:20

Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

27:55 Booking

Booking Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

27:43

Beram Kayal (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

27:43

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

25:07

Attempt missed. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner.

23:46 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 0, Celtic 2. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Kris Commons.

22:01

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).

22:01

Paul Paton (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

21:09

Attempt saved. Paul Paton (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

20:38

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Efe Ambrose.

19:48

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).

19:48

Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

17:38

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by John Rankin.

12:25

Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

12:25

Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

10:34 Booking

Booking John Rankin (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

10:28

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

10:28

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

10:03

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Stefan Johansen.

9:45

Attempt blocked. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

9:16

Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Celtic).

9:16

Brian Graham (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

7:32

Foul by Kris Commons (Celtic).

7:32

Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

4:52 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 0, Celtic 1. Georgios Samaras (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Kris Commons with a cross following a set piece situation.

4:11

Beram Kayal (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

4:11

Foul by Brian Graham (Dundee United).

1:45

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

1:45

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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