Celtic Cling-On For 2-2 Draw At Parkhead
A dominant Celtic side continued to pound the Dundee United defence, as the visitors crumbled and gifted Scott McDonald goal after goal, while the noisy Celtic support cheered their side onwards... then, Gordon Strachan awoke from his day-dream, just in-time to witness Warren Feeney touch the ball past Artur Boruc for a well deserved Dundee United equaliser.
It was one of those afternoons for Celtic where they predicted so much, but achieved so little - with Strachan claiming before kick-off that it was only a matter of time before Celtic ripped some unsuspecting side apart on their home turf, but then having to watch in disbelief as Dundee United pulled his defence apart in the 2nd half.
The final score might have been 2-2, but during the closing stages there was only going to be one winner and it was Celtic that were holding on, as Warren Feeney and Jon Daly created chance after chance and cause major concerns for the home defence.
It was a complete turn-around from the 1st half, when it was Parkhead side that dominated proceedings and could easily have scored more - with the Dundee United defence still feeling generous after the festive season.
Captain Lee Wilkie was caught out for the opening goal, in the 12th minute, when he tried to shield the ball out of play, only for Scott Brown to steal it away and square the ball for Samaras to expertly place it passed a flat-footed Zaluska in the United goal.
Craig Levein's half-time team talk worked wonders on the United players, as they came out in the 2nd half determined to make amends for their dreadful start to 2009.
Ironically, just as United started to take control of the match, Celtic were given the opportunity to go 2-0 infront, after an awful refereeing decision gave Scott McDonald a free kick on the left side of the United penalty box, after he backs into Sean Dillon.
Scottish Football is a strange activity, the only sport in the world where the rules don't apply to either Rangers or Celtic - with many occasions during this match at Parkhead, when the decisions went Celtics way, when clearly it was the United player that had been fouled.
You wouldn't expect a professional referee to put his career on the line, just because he is a Celtic fan and his whole family are Celtic season ticket holders, but there is something suspicious about Craig Conway being fouled from behind by Scott Brown, only for the free-kick to go in Celtics favour.
However, returning to the match, in the 58th minute, as Shunsuke Nakamura takes the Celtic free-kick outside the box, giving Georgios Samaras a great opportunity to head the home side 2-0 ahead from close range.
United then came back into the match 2minutes later when Morgaro Gomis was expertly fouled by Stephen McManus outside the area, only for Paul Dixon to curle the resulting free-kick past a helpless Artur Boruc.
With the score at 2-1 and United in full flow, it was only going to be a matter of time before the equalizer came, which is why manager Levein brought on striker Warren Feeney to bolster the attack.
Soon after coming on, Feeney caught the Celtic defence napping, after almost capitalizing on a sloppy back-pass from Barry Robson - but unfortunately he was off balance after rounding Boruc and his weakly struck shot was cleared off the line by the Celtic captain McManus.
The United supporters were in full voice at this stage, cheering the players towards the Celtic goal... although the 400 to 500 strong visiting support were immense through-out the full 90-minutes backing United all the way, without incident.
In the 77th minute, United grabbed their well deserved equalizer after Jon Daly's knock down found Warren Feeney inside the area and Feeney's touch took it passed Boruc for the 2nd time in the match.
United continued to pile on the pressure, with many Celtic players shaken by the events, especially Samaras who continually gave away possession before he was substituted for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink in the 74th minute.
Celtic had the odd chance, but most came from suspicious free-kicks, including a supposed foul by Garry Kenneth on Scott "I love to go to ground" Brown in the 82nd minute, but Nakamura was only able to fire his resultant error high over the bar.
The full-time whistle couldn't come quickly enough for Celtic, but there was a feeling of another missed opportunity for United, who are still unbeaten by both Old Firm sides this season after drawing with both Rangers and Celtic twice each.
Still, 2-2 at Parkhead is a great result for Craig Levein's side, a good start to the New Year and something to build on as United continue their fight for 3rd spot in the SPL this season.
Celtic 2-2 Dundee United