Sutton hat-trick sends new message to Eriksson

Dundee United 1 Celtic 5
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The Independent Football

Chris Sutton may be tired of people asking about a return to England's colours, but he continues to set Sven Goran Eriksson a problem in ignoring him.

The Celtic striker's second hat-trick in November - he has seven goals in four games - ensured that Tannadice offered no shocks to the Scottish Premier League leaders ahead of their Champions' League game with Bayern Munich.

Not that Sutton, or Martin O'Neill, expect Eriksson to join the audience at Parkhead on Tuesday night to assess him. "I think Chris has resigned himself to not playing for England but when you see them juggling about with forwards last week and Chris still doesn't get a call, you get annoyed because he's capable of playing for England."

O'Neill left out Robert Douglas, after his six-goal trauma in Amsterdam. Perhaps the manager was worried his keeper would have a relapse at the sight of more orange shirts. O'Neill, however, had little to worry about.

Dundee United were not Holland, though they had the ball in the net early on, only for Billy Dodds to have his effort ruled out for a push by his team-mate Jim McIntyre.

Ian McCall's team worked hard to deny Celtic space in the opening half-hour but the contest lacked sparkle. Alan Thompson, Sutton and Henrik Larsson had all threatened Paul Gallacher's goal but it was Sutton who finally made the breakthrough after 34 minutes.

Stanislav Varga's diagonal ball sought out the former Chelsea player, who directed a header towards Larsson that Chris Innes seemed to have covered, only for the defender to slip and allow Sutton to regain control of the ball, which he sublimely curled past Gallacher from 14 yards.

Dundee United must have hoped their industry would bring them back into the game in the second half, however they were buried by a burst of three goals in five minutes as Celtic showed a hunger to finish the job and focus on Bayern.

Larsson made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute when he met Stilian Petrov's inswinging corner and buried a header past Gallacher from six yards.

The Swede then had an off-the-ball confrontation with Dodds. Larsson was visibly riled and he took out his anger on the ball with two moments of genius.

First, he lashed an audacious left-foot volley from the wing in the 57th minute which the backtracking Gallacher managed to push against the bar, but the keeper was helpless to stop Sutton seizing on the rebound.

Within a minute, Larsson gathered Petrov's pass and galloped beyond Dodds before thrashing a ferocious 25-yard shot into the roof of the net to make it 4-0.

Dundee United cut the deficit in the 76th minute when McIntyre's left-foot shot took a deflection off Johan Mjallby to beat Douglas - who had replaced Magnus Hedman at half-time - but Sutton restored the four-goal margin eight minutes from the end when he was brought down in the box by Alan Archibald and coolly stroked the penalty past Gallacher.