O'Neill hails his 'magnificent' men

Dundee United 0 Celtic 3

Chris Sutton helped Celtic to erase the memory of their painful evening in Milan last week with a double that ensured there would be no chance of a Champions' League hangover affecting their title pursuit.

Chris Sutton helped Celtic to erase the memory of their painful evening in Milan last week with a double that ensured there would be no chance of a Champions' League hangover affecting their title pursuit.

Stilian Petrov was also on target for Celtic, who tore Dundee United to shreds in the first half at Tannadice, yet the home team felt betrayed by referee Hugh Dallas, who failed to give them at least two clear penalties.

Whether that would have made any difference is doubtful. Certainly, Martin O'Neill felt that way. "They had certainly a good claim with one," said the Celtic manager. "However, we could have been 5-0 at half-time - we were magnificent."

Sutton eased any Celtic fears by burying a fine ninth minute header from Petrov's corner and the Bulgarian midfielder soon doubled that advantage, sprinting onto Henri Camara's pass before steering an angled shot past goalkeeper Paul Jarvie. Any hope that United nursed about a comeback died when Dallas refused to give a penalty when Stuart Duff was cut down by Joos Valgaeren.

Juninho then conjured up the miss of the season by stabbing the ball wide of an empty net from three yards.

However, Sutton is unerring, and when Camara was brought down by Jarvie in the 36th minute, the former Chelsea striker drilled home the resulting penalty to make it 3-0.

United settled for damage limitation after that and Celtic eased down after their European exertions.

There was another United penalty claim, when Didier Agathe looked to have handled the ball in the box, but Juninho and Petrov could both have added more but for sloppy finishing.

* A late goal from Nacho Novo ended Kilmarnock's stubborn resolve and gave Rangers a 2-0 win, their fifth in a row, yesterday. Rangers spent most of the afternoon failing to capitalise on Marvin Andrews' early breakthrough and Killie almost made them pay for their lack of a killer instinct. They were denied an equaliser only by a post when Kris Boyd fired past Stefan Klos.

* The Inverness defender Stuart McCaffrey pulled his side out of trouble with a late equaliser against Motherwell to give struggling Caley a 1-1 draw and a Premier League lifeline.

Goals Sutton (9) 0-1; Petrov (17) 0-2; Sutton pen (37) 0-3.

Dundee United (3-5-2): Jarvie; Innes, McCracken (McInnes 46), Archibald; Duff, Wilson, Brebner (Kerr 60), Dodds (Kerkar 68), Robson; Grady, McIntyre. Substitutes not used Hirschfeld (gk), Scotland, Callaghan, Gardiner.

Celtic (3-5-2): Marshall; Varga, Balde, Valgaeren (Laursen 37); Agathe, Sutton, Lennon, Petrov, Juninho; Hartson (Wallace 73), Camara (Lambert 77). Substitutes not used Hedman (gk), Sylla, McGeady, Cuthbert.

Referee H Dallas.

Booked: Dundee United McInnes. Celtic Lennon.

Man of the Match Sutton.

Attendance 10,329.

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