Keane warms Celtic as Rangers frozen out

Celtic 1 Dundee United 0
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The Independent Football

Robbie Keane's first goal in front of the home fans since his loan move from Tottenham last month cut Rangers' lead at the top of the SPL to seven points, but not before a nervy finish for the Hoops faithful. The table-toppers' game at St Johnstone was a late postponement after a dramatic drop in temperatures overnight was too much for the undersoil heating to handle at McDiarmid Park.

The win came despite Celtic's manager, Tony Mowbray, being forced to pair teenagers Josh Thompson and Thomas Rogne at the heart of his defence yesterday, a situation United did too little to exploit. The visitors had taken four points from six already against Celtic this season and Scotland's manager, Craig Levein, formerly in the Tannadice hot seat, watched from the stand as Keane struck after 20 minutes.

Diomansy Kamara sprang the offside trap and the Irishman raced clean through and slipped the ball past the visiting goalkeeper, Dusan Pernis, before celebrating in trademark style.

Rogne might have scored his first Celtic goal when he climbed high to meet a Ki corner from the right, but the Norwegian defender headed wide of the far post. Pernis made a fine block from Scott Brown's thunderous shot before making another decent save from Marc-Antoine Fortuné moments later.

Just four minutes into the second half Celtic wasted another chance to tie up the points when Keane set up Fortuné only to watch the striker miskick from six yards.

United appeared at last to be getting down to work, and Prince Buaben fired over the bar from 30 yards. But the Hoops soon reasserted themselves and Pernis had to save from Brown, Kamara and Keane. He was then called into action to tip a goalbound shot from Landry N'Guemo round the post.

With only one goal to show for their dominance there was no hiding the tension which enveloped Celtic Park in the closing stages, and there was a collective gasp of relief in the 78th minute when the home keeper, Artur Boruc, made a point-blank save from Jon Daly.