Celtic move back to top after Petrov golden shot inspires win

Dunfermline Athletic 0 - Celtic 2
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The Independent Football

Stilian Petrov ignored the jibes about his decision to wear tights yesterday, as he conjured up a spectacular goal that conspired to give Celtic a leg-up in the Scottish Premier League title race.

The Bulgarian midfielder's 31st minute volley killed off Dunfermline's resistance at East End Park and ensured that the champions supplanted Rangers at the top, just 24 hours after their rivals had edged ahead again.

"I wore the tights to stop myself getting burns off the pitch when I fall," explained Petrov, who echoes the feelings of his Celtic's team-mates in a loathing for the controversial artificial surface. "I don't think the lads liked them too much but they work for me. The title race is tight and we needed to make sure we didn't slip up here."

Celtic showed a great hunger yesterday to prove a point after sliding out of the Champions' League in midweek, and but for an early scare, when Barry Nicholson missed with an easy header, they controlled this contest.

The breakthrough came in 16 minutes after goalkeeper Derek Stillie had conceded a corner to keep out Chris Sutton's header. From the short corner by Petrov, Sutton met Alan Thompson's fine delivery with a thumping header to score.

Aiden McGeady then came close for Celtic before the teenager had a hand in Petrov's goal. McGeady's free kick into the box was headed out only as far as Petrov, whose venomous volley from shoulder height passed through "the eye of the needle" according to Martin O'Neill, later.

That killed the game. Stillie had to prevent Varga's header from making it 3-0 just before the break and then Celtic ought to have scored again after a flowing move saw Petrov and Sutton combine for the latter to set up John Hartson, who rifled a shot from the edge of the box against the underside of the bar.

Goals: Sutton 16 (0-1), Petrov 31 (0-2).

Dunfermline Athletic (4-4-2): Stillie; Labonte (Ross 83), Tod, Wilson, Thomson; Nicholson, Young, Mason, Dempsey; Donnelly (Hunt 72), Mehmet. Substitutes not used: Langfield (gk), Bradley, Butler, Campbell, Scullion.

Celtic (3-5-2): Hedman; Balde, Varga, Valgaeren; McNamara, Lennon, Petrov, Thompson, McGeady; Hartson, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Juninho, Lambert, Laursen, Camara, Wallace, Lawson.

Referee: H Dallas (Scotland).

Booked: Dunfermline: Ross.

Attendance: 7,650.

Man of the Match: Petrov.