Match Report: Kris Commons and Anthony Stokes spearhead Celtic in morale-boosting romp

Celtic 6 Dundee United 2

celtic park

The slew of goals only brought added comfort for Celtic. The team needed a lift following last Tuesday night's defeat by Juventus in the Champions League, and Dundee United obliged. The clinical nature of the home side's play, and the relentless ambition, brought six goals but also a reminder that the players need not feel abashed. This side is, still, significantly better than the rest of the Scottish Premier League.

"It was a fantastic performance," Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, said. "The players wanted to put in a strong performance, they were hurting, but they picked themselves up very well. I've got a good team here and I want them to keep showing that."

The mood of the Celtic supporters might still have been a little raw, but sympathy was not part of United's repertoire. The away fans chanted "Juve, Juve" but that was only mildly upsetting for the hosts compared to the initial efforts of the team. Only 10 minutes had passed when Gary Mackay-Steven stole the ball from Charlie Mulgrew and hared towards the Celtic penalty area before releasing a pass to Stuart Armstrong.

Showing admirable composure, the young midfielder strode into the box and slid a precise shot beyond Fraser Forster, the Celtic goalkeeper, and into the net.

The goal ought to have been mortifying to Celtic, since the immediate obligation was to raise the spirits of their supporters. Efe Ambrose had been singled out as the culprit of that defeat, but he received a warm welcome, and responded with the equaliser. His header came from cross by Kris Commons, who had so pointedly criticised Ambrose's defending in the immediate aftermath of the Juventus game.

The pair were prominent throughout. Ambrose veered between assurance and alarm on his forays forward with the ball from centre-back. Commons was more conventionally involved, though, and there was crispness to his technique, as well as resourcefulness, when he chested down Emilio Izaguirre's cross and volleyed a shot on target while he fell backwards. The ball struck Cierzniak's foot before spinning into the goal off the underside of the crossbar.

United were not immediately suppressed, with Mackay-Steven in particular proving too quick and elusive for Adam Matthews. The Celtic right-back's mind must have been addled, since he tugged back Johnny Russell – before executing a perfect sliding tackle – inside the penalty area. Bobby Madden, the referee, saw the initial infringement and awarded a spot-kick, but Forster was equal to Jon Daly's firmly-struck effort.

The reprieve was a fillip for Celtic, because the game was still evenly balanced. Minds were focused, though, and the home side began to attack with slick intent. One smart passing move ended with Joe Ledley firing the ball into the United net, via a deflection off Sean Dillon, the United defender. The visitors, then, must have recognised that fortune was stacked against them.

Further confirmation came early in the second half, when Anthony Stokes was bundled over by Barry Douglas as he chased Gary Hooper's through ball.

On this occasion, Commons was decisive from the penalty spot and Celtic could begin to consider this a restorative occasion.

Stokes considered it a personal opportunity, since he added the fifth – lashing a 20-yard shot beyond Cierzniak – and the sixth – from close-range when James Forrest's header was saved – after a long spell when his career at the club appeared to be over. Russell's late consolation was only a footnote to a game that Celtic dominated.

"I'm disappointed with the goals that we lost," Jackie McNamara, the United manager, said. "They were soft. A couple of the players were too accepting [of the defeat], which I'm not happy about."

Celtic (4-1-2-1-2): Forster; Matthews, Ambrose (Kayal, 70), Wilson, Izaguirre; Mulgrew; Wanyama (Forrest, 76), Ledley; Commons (Rogic, 73); Hooper, Stokes.

Dundee Utd (4-2-3-1): Cierzniak; Watson, Dillon, McLean, Douglas; Flood (Ryan, 38), Rankin; Russell, Armstrong, Mackay-Steven; Daly (Gardyne, 78).

Referee Bobby Madden.

Man of the match Kris Commons.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable