Dundee United 0-2 Celtic

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.

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Interview - Celtic manager Neil Lennon

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.

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Interview - Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara

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.

As It Stood

4Dundee Utd3315991754
5Inverness CT3315711552
6St Johnstone3314613748
9Ross County338718-1831
10St Mirren338718-2131
11Partick Thistle3361215-2130
View full Scottish Premiership table

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