This was an accomplished, at times ruthless, performance by Celtic, but still Neil Lennon suffered a moment of angst. It came during the second half when Gary Hooper was carried off on a stretcher after suffering a foot injury. As the striker passed by the dugout, Lennon leaned over to commiserate with him, buthe might also have been regretting his own misfortune.
Emilio Izaguirre and Beram Kayal – Celtic's two best players last season – were already out injured, and then Hooper suffered a knock concerning enough for the striker to immediately signal to the bench that something was wrong. He fell heavily on his right foot as Paul Dixon slid in to try to block a shot, much to the disquiet of Lennon, whose side face FC Sion in a Europa League play-off first-leg tieat Parkhead on Thursday.
"He'll get a scan [on Monday]," the Celtic manager said. Hooper was Celtic's most effective striker last season, and scored their second goal here with an alert finish when the ball broke to him after Anthony Stokes's header hit the bar. Hooper's effort restored Celtic's lead only two minutes after United had equalised through Johnny Russell's close-range finish.
The opening goal came when the visitors failed to deal with a high ball and Stokes tucked away Daniel Majstorovic's knockdown. In Scott Allan, the 19-year-old midfielder, United have a player of remarkable promise, but Scott Robertson and Russell also performed with aplomb.
There was virtuosity in the home side, too, mostly when Ki Sung-yueng was in possession. When Kris Commons slid the ball into his path during a brisk counterattack after the interval, he lashed it home.
The fourth and fifth goals, scored by Joe Ledley and James Forrest respectively, provided confirmation of Celtic's authority.
Celtic (4-4-2): Zaluska; M Wilson, Majstorovic, K Wilson, Mulgrew; Brown, Ki, Ledley, Commons (Forrest, 65); Stokes (McCourt, 82), Hooper (Maloney, 67).
Dundee United (4-5-1): Pernis; Watson, Dillon, Kenneth, Dixon; Flood (Gunning, 82), Robertson, Allan (Armstrong, 68), Rankin, Russell; Daly.
Referee Craig Thomson.
Man of the match Brown (Celtic)
Match rating 7/10Reuse content