'Sensational' front pair help Celtic take control

Dundee United 1 Celtic 3
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The Independent Football

Celtic manager Neil Lennon was pleased at his team's attacking threat after they restored their five-point lead over Rangers in the Scottish Premier League with victory over Dundee United.

Anthony Stokes and Mark Wilson benefited from deflections to put Celtic in command before the break and defender Daniel Majstorovic dived to head home a third in the 78th-minute after David Goodwillie had got United back in the game.

Celtic could have added more goals to their tally with Gary Hooper hitting the post, seeing a late goal ruled out for offside and completely losing his footing with only goalkeeper Dusan Pernis to beat.

Lennon has been hit by some bad news with full-back Cha Du-ri set for a lengthy lay-off with an ankle injury but he was delighted with the form of Hooper and Stokes as his team secured their fifth consecutive league win.

"I thought the front two set the tone. In the first half they were sensational," Lennon said. "At 2-0 you are always concerned that Dundee United could get back in the game, and they did.

"But there was a real belief about the team that they could have got another one, which they did, and really we should have picked Dundee United off a lot better on the counter-attack when they were throwing bodies forward.

"We got a bit of luck with the first two goals but I thought we earned it. We missed easier chances and should have been more clinical at times, but the fact we created quality chances really pleased me."

Lennon played down a fresh injury to Scott Brown, who came off early in the second half after shaking off a groin problem to start, but Cha has a more serious issue following his return from South Korea duty. "Cha took a bad one. We are sending him to see another specialist to get another opinion," Lennon said. "We are hoping that he will not require surgery, but even if he doesn't require surgery he will be out for a significant period." He felt it in the first day of training when he came back. He seemed to jar his tendon. It was pretty innocuous really because he came through the training session okay and only really felt it afterwards."

On Brown, Lennon said: We took him off as a precaution so hopefully he should be okay for the weekend."

Dundee United (4-4-2): Pernis; Dillon, Kenneth, Watson, Dixon; S Robertson, D Robertson, Buaben (Russell, 63), Gomis (Swanson, 53); Conway, Goodwillie. Substitutes not used Banks (gk), Douglas, Shala, van der Meulen, Armstrong. Booked Dillon.

Celtic (4-4-2): Forster; Mulgrew, Majstorovic, Wilson, Izaguirre; Commons (Ki, 63), Kayal, Brown (Ljungberg, 80), Ledley; Stokes (Samaras, 71), Hooper. Substitutes not used Zaluska (gk), McCourt, Rogne, Carey. Booked Majstorovic, Wilson, Kayal.

Possession Dundee Utd 60% Celtic 40%

Shots on target Dundee Utd 3 Celtic 5

Man of the match: Stokes. Att: 11,414

Referee M Tumilty (Scotland)