Dundee United 1 Celtic 3
Sun 13th Feb 12.00
Dundee United fought hard but were always left chasing the game after a couple of deflected first-half goals left them with far too much to do against Celtic after the break. Home striker David Goodwillie managed to reduce the deficit with his first goal in six games midway through the second-half as his side threatened a revival. But that was ended when the SPL leaders scored again and in far more decisive fashion twelve minutes before the end.
The visitors were first to show with Charlie Mulgrew's free-kick forcing a low save from Dusan Pernis and then Kris Commons slicing wide on the volley. Prince Buaben drove over at the opposite end before his side fell behind on sixteen minutes, and there was an element of good fortune for their opponents when Anthony Stokes' mishit shot struck Garry Kenneth to leave Pernis wrong-footed.
Two minutes later Buaben appeared a likely equaliser for the Taysiders until his driven attempt from inside the area was charged down by Mulgrew and Fraser Forster then gathered David Robertson's follow-up.
But Celtic always looked dangerous in the final third and after Gary Hooper had lifted a shot over, it was former Tangerines defender Mark Wilson who started a move that ended with his sidefooted finish taking another heavy deflection off Sean Dillon and beyond Pernis.
The Slovakian then had to save from Welsh midfielder Joe Ledley after Commons had already fired across goal, while the hosts threatened through the trickery of Goodwillie just before the interval, but his cross-shot drifted across the face of the area and out of for a throw.
That was actually a sign of things to come following the restart as Peter Houston's side opened positively and at a raised tempo. Goodwillie was close to getting on the end of a Keith Dixon corner headed down by Kenneth before Ledley drove wide in reply from outside the box.
Home winger Craig Conway then volleyed well over the target after Forster's punched clearance lacked sufficient depth, before delivering a 64th minute free-kick that fell for the predatory Goodwillie to reduce the deficit by drilling inside the near post.
And following a couple of additional moments of danger created by Hooper, the Terrors should really have levelled when Scott Robertson won possession from Celtic substitute Ki Sung-Yueng and sent away Goodwillie to have a low shot blocked by Forster.
A mistake from Dillon then saw Hooper sliding his finish again Pernis' right-hand upright before the visitors extended their advantage when Mulgrew's inswinging free-kick was met by a diving header inside the near post from Swedish defender Daniel Majstorovic.
The scoreline could have been given an even more inflated look as Hooper danced past Kenneth six-yards out but then lost his footing with only Pernis to beat. Hooper also turned in a cross from substitute Georgios Samaras but was denied by an offside flag with a couple of minutes remaining.
Dundee United: Pernis, Watson, Dillon, Kenneth, Dixon, S. Robertson, D. Robertson, Buaben (Russell 63), Gomis (Swanson 53), Conway, Goodwillie
subs (unused): Banks, Douglas, van der Meulen, Armstrong, Shala
Goals: Goodwillie (64)
Celtic: Forster, Wilson, Majstorovic, Mulgrew, Izaguirre, Brown (Ljungberg 80), Kayal, Ledley, Commons (Ki Sung-Yueng 63), Hooper, Stokes (Samaras 71)
subs (unused: Zaluska, Rogne, McCourt, Carey
Goals: Stokes (16), Wilson (36), Majstorovic (78)
Ref: M. Tumilty