Dundee 1 Celtic 2: Battling Dee downed by Hoops at Dens Park

Goals either side of half-time at Dens Park saw Dundee go down to Celtic in a game that takes the champions to within one win of retaining their title.

Defender Jozo Simunovic struck right at the end of the first half to give the Hoops the lead and Stuart Armstrong headed another six minutes into the second period to clinch the points.

The Dark Blues battled throughout and pulled one back through Faissal El Bakhtaoui, but in the end couldn’t quite do enough to snatch a draw.

The home team made two changes from the defeat at St Johnstone eight days ago, Kevin Gomis coming into the defence for Kosta Gadzhalov and Tom Hateley replacing Craig Wighton.

After a quiet opening ten minutes or so the visitors were handed an early chance after Darren O’Dea fouled Scott Sinclair 30 yards out. Armstrong had a go from the free kick, but his effort flew wide.

Celtic quickly forced a corner and when Armstrong sent the ball to the back post Moussa Dembele headed narrowly wide. The striker’s reaction suggested he felt he should have hit the target.

When Dundee were able to get forward, Marcus Haber was winning plenty headers. He did well to knock the ball to Henrik Ojamaa on the edge of the Celtic area, but he wasted the opportunity by knocking the ball straight through to Craig Gordon when a pass to Mark O’Hara was on.

Seven minutes before the break Cammy Kerr did well when he cleared a James Forrest cross just before Sinclair could pull the trigger. Then Paul McGowan was the hero, blocking a Dedryck Boyata header on the line.

But as the pressure on the home goal increased, the Hoops went ahead in first half injury time. Forrest managed to force a cross into the middle and although giant centre-half Simunovic’s 12-yard shot was not well struck, the ball deflected off Gomis and ended up in the bottom left corner of Bain’s net.

Right at the start of the second half Dundee went close when a Kevin Holt free kick beat the defensive wall, but Craig Gordon  in the Celtic goal made a good save.

The Hoops moved further ahead in the 52nd minute when another Forrest cross was met by the head of Armstrong and the former Dundee United man perfectly steered his effort past Bain and into the back off the home net.

Just after the hour mark a great chance for Dundee to get back in the game was squandered. Paul McGowan broke forward and perfectly set up Haber. From the edge of the area the Canadian curled his shot wide when he really should have done better.

Dundee got a goal back in the 76th minute when sub El Bakhtaoui struck with a sensational effort. Holt fed him with a quick free kick inside the centre circle and the wee attacker raced forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot from 20 yards.

It was game on now and as the home team pushed up, Haber headed wide from a Kerr cross. In the end, though, Dundee just couldn’t find an equaliser.