Camara does his best to replace the irreplaceable

Celtic 3 - Dundee 0
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The Independent Football

It was a familiar scenario yesterday as Celtic polished up their finishing before embarking upon the European stage. This time, though, it was Henri, not Henrik, whose goals had Parkhead in the palm of his hand.

Henri Camara was recruited by Martin O'Neill to soften the blow of life after Larsson and the Senegal striker's double, which kept his team top of the Scottish Premier League, will enhance his confidence when he comes face to face with his predecessor on Tuesday night.

Larsson's return to Parkhead with Barcelona for the Champions' League encounter is eagerly awaited, though the Spanish club's spy will have noted the menace of Camara, whose added to his first-half goal with a sublime 86th-minute finish as his raking 20-yard shot flew past Dundee's impressive goalkeeper, Derek Soutar.

In these days of itinerant footballers, there was a heartwarming cameo before the game when Barry Smith was given an award from Dundee for making his 300th League appearance for the club. The fact it came on the ground that Dundee's captain left 10 years ago simply made it fitting.

However, the thread that runs between the two sides was not extended by the long-awaited meeting of the Sutton boys. Chris was left out of Celtic's line-up to protect a hamstring problem ahead of the Barcelona game, denying the striker to meet his little brother, John, who plays up front for Dundee.

Not that Celtic missed their Sutton too much. John Hartson was in the kind of form that makes him a threat to defences on his own, and almost put the champions ahead after 12 minutes when he stooped to glance on Stilian Petrov's corner. The header looped over Soutar but Garry Brady's vigilance on the line paid off.

Seven minutes later, Hartson displayed the other side of his game - creator. His gallop down the right ended with a teasing cross for Petrov. Soutar punched clear, but only to Juninho, whose volley flew over.

However, Celtic broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute as Camara scored his first competitive goal since his move from Wolves. Joos Valgaeren punished Calum Macdonald's poor pass on the half-way line by threading the ball into Camara's run and he beat Brent Sancho before steering a right foot shot beyond Soutar. Dundee, though, deserved to restore parity. Bobby Mann conjured up a venomous volley from Brady's corner, but Hartson turned saviour this time by clearing the ball off the line.

Eight minutes before the interval, Hartson was at the other end. Alan Thompson's low cross was gathered by the Welshman, who had muscled in ahead of Mann, before thumping a right-foot shot past Soutar. Not surprisingly, Celtic took their foot off the pedal in the second half though chances continued to come their way. Each time, the impressive Soutar denied them, with the Scotland Under-21 goalkeeper's saves from Camara and Jackie McNamara being the best.

Dundee, though, had an impressive period of possession which began to ask awkward questions of Celtic. Had Iain Anderson scored with 17 minutes remaining, it might have been a more taut finale but the Dundee midfielder's superb skill was frustrated as his shot from the edge of the box crashed off the underside of the bar.