Champions Celtic were too strong for Dundee and ran up a 3-0 win over the Dark Blues at Parkhead. Dundee held out till shortly before half time, but Michael Johnston scored on either side of half time and Filip Benkovic added a third in the middle of the second half. The Dark Blues worked hard, but couldn’t cope with a Celtic side that found top form, especially in the second half.
Dundee made five changes following the defeat at Pittodrie. Calvin Miller was unavailable against his parent club. Darren O’Dea and Genseric Kusunga were injured, while Kenny Miller and Lewis Spence were on the bench. Andy Boyle and Ryan Inniss came in to play at centre back. Glen Kamara and Adil Nabi were in midfield and Benjamin Källman played as the sole striker. Celtic brought in Scott Bain, Tom Rogic and Michael Johnston, replacing Craig Gordon, Scott Brown and Odsonne Edouard.
Unsurprisingly the home side started on the front foot and quickly put Dundee under heavy pressure. Jack Hamilton had to push away a dangerous cross shot from Anthony Ralston. There was no respite for the Dee keeper and he was quickly back in action, saving well from Michael Johnston, who had broken free on the left. James Forrest looked certain to score from the rebound but Nathan Ralph pulled off an athletic goal-saving header under the crossbar.
Dundee did manage a couple of promising attacks. Jesse Curran was played into space on the right and Filip Benkovic did well to clear his low cross for a corner. Martin Woods wasn’t far off target from 20 yards, but the game then settled back into a wave of Celtic attacks, with Dundee having to defend desperately.
Sinclair had a pop from 20 yards, missing by a couple of feet, and then set up a great chance with a burst down the left. He pulled the ball back for Johnston to scoop the ball against the crossbar from 12 yards.
Tom Rogic and James Forrest both had efforts that flew over the bar, and Hamilton again saved well from Johnston who couldn’t get enough power on his shot from a Sinclair cross. The youngster Johnston was involved in almost every Celtic attack and Hamilton again denied him, diving to smother his header. Johnston showed smart footwork to drag the ball into space, but his low shot flashed past the far post.
Olivier Ntcham passed up the best chance of the first half so far after Ralston’s low cross flew threw the goalmouth and Sinclair returned it to give Ntcham a tap in, but the French midfielder barely connected with the ball and Hamilton saved on the goalline.
The endless pressure eventually paid off for Celtic three minutes before half time. Michael JOHNSTON found space well on the left of the penalty area, controlled Callum McGregor’s through pass, turned and shot across Hamilton and inside the far post. The Dundee defence hesitated, hoping for an offside flag that rightly never came, and paid the price.
Dundee managed to break fleetingly into the Celtic half at the end of the half, and Martin Woods tested Scott Bain from 18 yards after Benjamin Källman’s battle for a high ball created a moment of confusion in the Celtic defence.
Celtic had been dominant throughout the first half, but had shown signs of over-confidence, even complacency, as they carelessly wasted numerous opportunities and were occasionally casual in midfield. That changed after half time and Celtic came out flying at Dundee. Ralston burst down the right and the Dee defence did well to scramble the ball away. Scott Sinclair then had a couple of menacing runs, and from the second he chipped the ball over for JOHNSTON to score with a close range header that went in off the crossbar.
Kenny Miller replaced Benjamin Källman, but he never saw the sort of service that might have let him sniff out a goal. Jack Hamilton was the busiest player on the pitch and yet again he pulled out a great save to deny James Forrest, who was clean through on goal after a neat exchange with Rogic. Hamilton surpassed that when he kept out Ralston who raced clear onto McGregor’s long pass.
Hamilton made another fine save to deny substitute Ryan Christie when the second ball came in following a corner. However, the keeper’s luck was out this time as Filip BENKOVIC followed up to sweep the ball home for the final goal.
Jack Hamilton fully deserved the luck that did come his way when Ralston’s cross shot beat him and came back off the inside of the post.
At times Celtic were guilty of being over elaborate, almost as if they wanted to walk the ball into the net. Rogic wasted a great chance that way, allowing Jesse Curran to clear for a corner. In injury time Scott Sinclair tried to be too clever, opting for a fancy backheel from close range, when a simpler finish would surely have been successful, and Jack Hamilton completed a fine personal performance with an instinctive save.
The scoreline hardly flattered Celtic, who controlled this game from start to finish. They had moments of sloppiness in the first half and Dundee did well to maintain their concentration and organisation until almost the half time whistle. In the second half Celtic added discipline and ruthlessness to their domination until the casual, cockiness returned in the latter stages with the game safely won.
The champions showed that on their day they are a cut above the other teams in Scotland and today they were far too good for the Dee. Their touch, movement and sharp passing, even under pressure, created problems that the Dark Blues couldn’t handle. It’s been a very difficult week for the Dee with three tough away matches and numerous injury problems to deal with. The players have to pick themselves up now and be ready to go again in the two home games, against Livingston and St Johnstone before the end of the year and the mid-winter break.
Ralston, Simunovic (Ajer 57), Benkovic, Izaguirre
Forrest (Christie 62), Rogic, Sinclair
Johnston (Hayes 77)
Unused subs: Gordon (gk), Brown, Gamboa, Morgan.
Goals: Johnston (42, 49), Benkovic (69).
Dundee FC 4-4-1-1
Kerr, Inniss, Boyle, Ralph
Curran, Kamara, Woods, Nabi (Lambert 62).
Källman (Kenny Miller 53)
Unused subs: Parish (gk), Mendy, Spence, Moore, Bradbury.
Booked: Woods (foul on Forrest).
Referee: Euan Anderson. Assistants: Frank Connor, Gordon Crawford. Fourth Official: Craig Napier.
Report: James Christie.