Dundee 0
Celtic 2
League (Premier League)

0 - 2

League (Premier League)
Wednesday, December 26th, 2012
Dens Park
Attendance: 9,276
7:30 PM Kick-off

None. Georgios Samaras (16)
Gary Hooper (71)

Team Managers
Barry Smith
Neil Lennon

Starting Eleven
1. Robert Douglas
17. Kyle Benedictus
18. Declan Gallagher
2. Gary Irvine
3. Matt Lockwood
11. Ryan Conroy
20. Jim McAlister
8. Kevin McBride
4. Stephen O'Donnell
10. John Baird
24. Colin Nish
Fraser Forster .1
Emilio Izaguirre .3
Efe Ambrose .4
Kelvin Wilson .6
Charlie Mulgrew .21
Scott Brown .8
Beram Kayal .33
Victor Wanyama .67
Georgios Samaras .9
Tony Watt .32
Gary Hooper .88

36. Alex Baird
26. Brian Easton
5. Neil McGregor
33. Jamie Reid
23. Martin Boyle
27. Mark Stewart
Lukasz Zaluska .24
Thomas Rogne .25
Mikael Lustig .23
Paddy McCourt .20
James Forrest .49
Miku Fedor .7
Lassad Nouioui .11

Mark Stewart for John Baird (74)
Martin Boyle for Stephen O'Donnell (83)
Mikael Lustig for Charlie Mulgrew (46)
James Forrest for Beram Kayal (60)
Paddy McCourt for Tony Watt (79)

Kyle Benedictus (69)
Gary Hooper (69)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Iain Brines (Referee)
Ross Haswell & Stuart Hodge (Assistants)
Kevin Clancy (Fourth Official)

Photography by David Young

Match Report

Dundee went down 2-0 to table topping Celtic at Dens Park tonight. The champions were dominant for most of the match and the Dee had to work hard to keep the score down. Georgi Samaras gave Celtic the lead in an uncomfortable first half for the Dee. The Dark Blues perked up after the break and might well have equalised early in the second half, but Dundee's impertinence merely goaded Celtic to step up a gear. They killed the game with a goal from Gary Hooper and cruised to the final whistle.

Ryan Conroy and Stephen O'Donnell came in for the suspended Iain Davidson and injured Nicky Riley as Dundee's squad was stretched to the limits. Lewis Toshney was also unavailable to play against the club from whom he is on loan.

Celtic started the game aggressively, fielding a nominal four man defence, but with full backs Ambrose and Izaguirre pushing forward constantly to form a five man midfield supporting a front three.

Charlie Mulgrew's expert delivery from corners posed serious problems for the Dundee defence throughout the first half. After Efe Ambrose hit the bar from close range from one of Mulgrew's corners it was no great surprise when Celtic took the lead after 17 minutes from another Mulgrew corner. This one was flighted beyond the far post. Tony Watt had peeled away into space. Douglas did well to save his volley, but was helpless when SAMARAS hooked the ball back into the net despite Jim McAlister's attempt to clear on the line.

Dundee were struggling to cope with Celtic's smooth and aggressive attacking and the visitors nearly grabbed a quick second with the slickest move of the game. Kayal and Samaras broke superbly from defence but Douglas saved the Dee by touching Samaras's curling shot round the post.

Celtic started to ease off as the half wore on, but they were firmly in charge. The Dee defence might have been having a slightly easier time but the midfield couldn't get to grips with Celtic's dominance and the Dundee strikers had few opportunities to get into the game.

Charlie Mulgrew didn't appear after half time and Lustig came on to play right back. Ambrose moved into central defence and the change unsettled Celtic for a while. At last Dundee looked capable of scoring, and should have equalised before Celtic pulled themselves together.

Forster saved brilliantly to prevent what seemed a certain goal from a close range Nish header after an excellent cross from Conroy. That was by far Dundee's best chance of the game. A good spell of pressure then saw Dundee work the ball around the Celtic penalty area till Baird's shot was deflected wide.

The game was swinging from end to end and the home support got right behind the team as Dundee started to make life a bit less comfortable for the visitors. Although the Dee were getting forward far more purposefully than in the first half their shooting was largely restricted to optimistic efforts from long range.

Sadly for the Dee there was no equaliser and Celtic got to grips with the match. They were still moving the ball around smoothly, but were finding difficulty breaking down the Dundee defence. Douglas did well to save when Forrest's cross deflected off Benedicus.

19 minutes from time Celtic gave themselves the breathing space their dominance really deserved with a second goal that had a touch of class from Gary HOOPER. He smoothly took Lustig's long pass in his stride and lobbed the advancing Douglas from 15 yards.

Two minutes later Forster had to stretch to reach a looping Nish header, but the only doubt now was the final score. There was no question that the points were securely in Celtic's grasp.

The rest of the match consisted of Celtic pressing for a third, but resisted manfully by the Dark Blue defence. The match might have finished 2-0, but it's hard to escape the feeling that Celtic would have scored more if they'd really needed to.

It was good to see Stephen O'Donnell back in action after his long lay off, and he did well to last till the 83rd minute. This was as tough a return as he could have had. Dundee couldn't match the strength and guile of the Celtic midfield where Wanyama and Brown were outstanding.

The intelligent movement and interplay of Celtic's front three stretched the Dundee defence all night long. The home defenders did well to stick to their tasks against much tougher opposition than they're used to meeting.

Dundee might have been well beaten tonight, but they weren't disgraced. Celtic are obviously by far the best team who will come to Dens this season and the Dark Blues kept their shape and kept fighting to the end.

Match report written by James Christie - Official Dundee website

Squad Statistics (as at December 26th, 2012)

2012-13 All Time
Robert Douglas (GK)40 22 - 293 -
Kyle Benedictus21 191691
Declan Gallagher21 12 - 12 -
Gary Irvine27 22 - 1012
Matt Lockwood36 1919510
Ryan Conroy25 2146316
Jim McAlister27 21 - 21 -
Kevin McBride31 131241
Stephen O'Donnell29 5 - 837
John Baird27 21 - 21 -
Colin Nish31 152152
Mark Stewart (sub)24 8 - 8 -
Martin Boyle (sub)19 10 - 10 -

League Table (as at December 26th, 2012)

No league table has been added for this season.

Manager's Programme Notes

As we move on to a busy couple of weeks before the break, I feel in reflection there are many positives to be taken from the past couple of months.

We were extremely disappointed to lose to our neighbours at our last outing here at Dens Park, but I did not think the score line reflected the performance at all, and had a couple of decisions went our way instead of against us, the outcome may have been different. We did not allow ourselves to dwell on that game however and moved on quickly to prepare for the challenges ahead.

The players have sacrificed the traditional Christmas celebrations to prepare for this game, and as usual they have all been working very hard both on match days and on the training pitch. Every single person in the dressing room will tell you that the best Christmas present they could ask for would be a good performance ending in a good result this evening.

After a derby defeat, you're always looking for a reaction and I feel we got that at Dingwall. We looked good going forward and deservedly took the lead thanks to a fantastic strike by lain Davidson. Although we were under a bit of pressure after the equaliser, I felt that on the whole we defended well and left with a good point at a very tricky venue. Two trips up to the Highlands in consecutive weeks can't be easy on the pocket for anyone, so I'd like to thank the fans especially who have made that trip at a difficult time of year and supported us so well as always. Today's game is a very difficult one and whilst we will show Celtic the respect they deserve being Champions, we feel that if we play well and do the right things during the 90 minutes it's a game we can take something from.

Neil Lennon's side have shown what they are capable of many times this season, none more so than in the two games against Barcelona earlier in the season. They're away form in particular is very good, but our home form has also been pleasing on the whole in the past couple of months, so I'm expecting a good contest in front of the TV cameras and a full house.

From all the players and backroom staff at Dens Park, I hope you all had a great Christmas.