Football: Celtic leave it late to pounce

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The Independent Online
Celtic. . . . . .2

Walker 73, Mowbray 90

Dundee United. . 1

Nixon 76

Attendance: 25,817

CELTIC had gone into their first home game of the season claiming there was no justice in the world, but the fates smiled warmly on them yesterday. A goal in the third minute of injury time gave them a win which they did not deserve.

The Scottish League's management committee ruled on Thursday that Celtic were guilty of encouraging Tommy Burns to quit Kilmarnock and a pounds 100,000 fine was imposed.

Celtic are considering an appeal against what is the heaviest monetary penalty ever handed down by the League, but Burns was anxious only to see his side put on a show in their first game in their temporary home. The club have moved south of the Clyde to Hampden Park while their own home has a pounds 22m facelift.

However Dundee United, who started their campaign with a humiliating 5-0 defeat by Hibernian last weekend, were unwilling to suffer further embarrassment and were stung into more positive action.

In fact, they would have been holding a handsome lead at half-time had it not been for the excellence of Celtic's goalkeeper Gordon Marshall. 'He made some world-class saves,' Burns said afterwards and he heard no one willing to dispute his assessment.

Having squandered decent opportunities Dundee were made to pay heavily after 73 minutes when Andy Walker, whose transfer fee will be decided by a tribunal tomorrow, took a pass from Peter Grant and ran around Brian Welsh before placing the ball in the bottom left-hand corner of Alan Main's net.

United's response was swift and spectacular. Jerren Nixon, a substitute for Dragutin Ristic, sped clear of his markers, looked up, and curled the ball into the net at Marshall's top right-hand corner.

In the 13 minutes remaining the Tannadice side sought a second goal, but Celtic claimed it in the dying seconds of time added on by the referee. John Collins' corner from the right drifted over, Main appeared to have the ball in his grasp, but allowed it to escape.

Mowbray couldn't believe his luck, but lunged and headed in despite the presence on the goal line of three United defenders.

'How they could defend like that after all the hard work they had put in during the match is beyond me,' said Ivan Golac, who fined each of his players pounds 100 after last week's defeat.

Jim Traynor is football correspondent of the Herald, Glasgow