Football: Donnelly's booster

Dundee United 1 Olafsson 61 Celtic 2 Donnelly 29, O'Donnell 43 Attendance:11,376
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The Independent Online
Celtic earned the confidence-boosting win they were seeking in advance of Tuesday's Uefa Cup showdown with Liverpool at Anfield when they subdued Dundee United in a pulsating game.

While coach Wim Jansen must secretly worry that Robbie Fowler has now returned to add to the firepower Michael Owen and Karlheinz Riedle so vividly put on display at Parkhead, at least he can be consoled that he is now seeing the emergence of a partnership his Celtic side will profit from.

Simon Donnelly, who caught Roy Evans' eye so much in that first European match, and Henrik Larsson are combining to devastating effect. Last week against Aberdeen, it was Donnelly who was the provider for the Swede, this time the roles were reversed. Larsson set up Donnelly's 28th minute opener on a plate, pouncing as United defender Steven Pressley waited to head the ball back to his keeper, Sieb Dykstra, and nodded it into the path of Donnelly. Celtic stretched their advantage in the 44th minute when substitute Phil O'Donnell scored with his first touch.

O'Donnell had just come on for the injured Andreas Thom but wasted no time in making his mark, taking Jackie McNamara's cross on the run and crashing a splendid drop-shot past the stunned Dykstra.

Celtic should have swept United off the pitch but lost their way in a niggly second half, punctuated by six bookings, and subsequently lost a 61st minute goal to Kjell Olafsson, after Marc Rieper had given away a free kick outside the box. Lars Zetterlund touched the ball to his Swedish counterpart and Olofsson curled a wonderful shot past the Celtic wall and goalkeeper Jonathan Gould.

Despite a barrage of pressure from United, who on this evidence should not still be seeking their first League win, they held out. Jansen now appears to be working some influence on Celtic as this was their seventh win in eight games following their truly dreadful start to their season.