Dundee 0-5 Celtic (SPFL Premiership)
Wednesday, 31 October
Dens Park, Dundee
It was a truly grim Halloween night for Dundee, as visiting Celtic left with a bag full of goals.
Celtic were rampant against a very poor Dark Blues team, who slid further into the Premiership cellar. The Hoops, meanwhile, kept up their stalking of idle league leaders Hearts. Dundee had absolutely no answer for Celtic’s attack, which was relentless and full of quality. If anything, Celtic’s attack moved up a gear from its recent excellent performances, a fact that should send shivers around the league.
Dundee managed to keep Celtic off the scoreboard for the first 20 minutes, but Celtic were well in control, with80% of the possession before Tom Rogic served up a true piece of class. Given too much time on the ball, the Australian curved the ball perfectly into the right side of the Dundee net, an utterly sexual and totally unstoppable goal. The home team had cracked, and the collapse was on just five minutes later.
Offensive sensation Mikael Lustig steamed into the box to receive a pass from Rogic and won the penalty by defender Ryan Inniss. Scott Sinclair coolly slotted home from the spot to make it 2-0. Dundee were visibly faltering at that point, seeming to move in three-quarters speed as Celtic buzzed around their half. It was only a matter of time until more came, and it happened with lightning speed.
Kieran Tierney’s cross on 38 minutes found James Forrest flying into the penalty area, who poked it homewith authority. Forrest returned the favor. Two minutes into added time he hit the byline and cut the ball back for a waiting Odsonne Edouard to make it 4-0 with his ninth of the year. The halftime whistle had come about 25 minutes too late for the insipid and toothless home side, who could only try and regroup and spare their blushes in the second half.
They did no such thing. Just two minutes into the second, Edouard rolled a ball perfectly into Ryan Christie’s path and it was (Tom Miller voice) five – Celtic’s fifth different scorer of the day. Dundee’s bottle had well and truly gone then, and their discipline started to unravel, Roarie Deacon and Darren O’Dea being booked for rash, frustrated challenges. A prudent double substitution on 56 minutes saw Lewis Morgan replace Rogic, and the Celtic debut of Daniel Arzani (for Edouard).
The remainder of the match was played as more or less a disinterested friendly.
Dundee gaffer Jim McIntyre could have put any eleven out there tonight and the result would have largely been the same. Kenny Miller, now beaten by Celtic with two different teams this season, was totally inconsequential to proceedings, as were his “strike partners” (they of zero shots). There’s actually not much to be said about the Dark Blues other than to take the piss out of Kenny Miller. Dundee are very much in danger of the drop, with 10 defeats from 11.
We had generally felt the Celtic lineup would pick itself; Rodgers had a choice at centre-half to make and Filip Benkovic won out over the preview’s choice, Kristoffer Ajer. Neither Benkovic nor his partner Dedryck Boyata(subbed off for Ajer on 70 minutes) was troubled in the least. Craig Gordon had even less to do, and he could have played the game wearing any Halloween costume he liked (in the end, he chose “hot pink nightmare”).
Ryan Christie put in another excellent evening of work; and to a man, Celtic were razor-sharp and hungry in attack.
Even subs Arzani and Morgan did not look out of place one iota. The Aussie provided a tantalizing cross that Kieran Tierney could not manage to connect with, and was very positive in attack. Unfortunately around the 76thminute he seemed to turn his ankle in the turf and was stretchered off, leaving the Hoops down to ten.
Brendan Rodgers will be very proud of the effort his team put forth this cold night on Tayside, in a match which on paper seems unimportant in the torrent of “big games” Celtic play. But it’s this kind of effort in this kind of match that wins leagues. Onward and upward.
MAN OF THE MATCH: JAMES FORREST
Celtic will be licking their chops at the prospect of seeing Hearts again, this time on Saturday at Parkhead. The Hoops would go within one point of the league leaders with a win and no other motivation should be needed.