Unrivaled Celtic Secured Scottish Premier League title glory at Tannadice to seal a comeback season for history.
Giorgos Giakoumakis’ A booming header was canceled out by a Dylan Levitt strike, but in truth, this crowning achievement seemed destined long before the 1-1 draw that confirmed it.
Angel Postecoglou He was only missing a helmet when he arrived, having faced a major rebuilding job for a team that was outclassed in a title loss to Steven Gerrard’s Rangers.
But it inspired the old guard before identifying the new, and the results have been spectacular.
Fans punched the air in delight at the final whistle as they instantly regained top status and punched a £40m ticket straight into the Champions League group stage.
The Celtic manager noted in his pre-match comments that a fast start was on the agenda and that’s what he got.
James Forrest’s crossover pitch, Matt O’Riley’s provocative pitch and Tony Ralston’s throw caused the hosts heartbreak in two minutes.
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There were signs that Forrest, less seen during an injury-ravaged season, was hell-bent on making a big impact as he swung around and navigated challenges to carry the fight into the final third.
O’Riley was not far behind and Kieran Freeman turned the Danish Under-21 international away as he found space in the United box.
Celtic they were dominating the action and Reo Hatate looked poised to finish off a flowing move when Liel Abada dribbled across the 18-yard box but was unable to contain his effort.
Dundee United specialize in promoting from their famed academy and 16-year-old Rory MacLeod was the latest to earn his chance.
But the highly-skilled youngster was literally left chasing shadows as the sun-kissed countryside turned Celtic stars into silhouettes as they held hosts on ropes.
Hatate, playing his best game of late, was in high spirits again, but spoiled a deflected effort after a charming back-and-forth with Giorgos Giakoumakis to free him.
The great Greek striker was in the wars and that physical element seems to give an added advantage to a player who finds another level in the heat of battle.
But he was staring at the sky after he overcooked a pass to Forrest after United’s lopsided offside trap was sprung.
United then showed their teeth and Archie Meekerson’s moment of wit on the edge of the box created a half chance, however his controlled effort with his left foot landed on the wrong side of Joe Hart’s goal.
Postecoglou was photographed wincing at the lack of pace that closed out the first half.
There was enthusiasm and hubris from both sides to start the second half with Abada first to get close when he forced Benjamin Siegrist into a clever save.
But the coveted Swiss goalkeeper was left helpless moments later when Giakoumakis fired a lofted ball from Ralston through the box into the net.
If United were down, they certainly weren’t out and teenage star MacLeod broke the post before Nicky Clark’s second goal was ruled offside.
That gave the hosts something to believe in, but Jota was prepared to extinguish any hope, only to be denied by the brilliant Siegrist.
That opened the door for the plucky side of Tam Courts to roll with the punches before Dylan Levitt’s tedder momentarily dropped the champions.
And the leveler continued to galvanize the Tangerines as they carried a significant goal-scoring threat in the closing stages.
Jota was weaving his magic again, but Celtic fended off a win, but that mattered little to the merry band of traveling fans within Tannadice.
Daizen Maeda fired one last shot over the bar when it was all tied.
Here are 5 talking points from the decisive night of the Scottish Premiership season.
The one word some Celtic supporters thought might be out of reach after a setback to Livingston made it three defeats from six in the league, fresh off a season in which they finished 25 points behind Rangers. The belief did not flow. But Postecoglou’s unwavering belief quickly turned into tangible results on the field.
And they haven’t looked back on the road to a 31-game unbeaten streak in the league. There have been plenty of highlights, the 3-0 loss to Rangers was the choice for many, but for all the beautiful football, there is a gritty element to this side in their ability to deliver results. That is the mark of champions and there is no doubt that Parkhead’s side have been the best of the bunch nationally.
Star turn Kyogo possesses talismanic qualities, he has made the difference in a season full of them, but there is a growing sense that Celtic are something different when the Greek striker leads the line. He brings goals and much more.
His holdup game is excellent and he has an innate ability to find half a yard inside the box. It bodes well for the season ahead and Postecoglou is in the enviable position that one of his two best strikers should lead the line. They both bring a lot to this team.
Reo returns to his best moment
Even Rovers’ Roy did not enjoy the kind of starts the Japan international enjoyed upon arrival. Rockets at Tyncecastle, doubles against Rangers and otherworldly passes to unlock Motherwell – it couldn’t have started much better. But the 24-year-old seemed beside himself before admitting that he was working hard with a full schedule.
The class is there, there’s no doubt about that, and he’s coming back to his best in Tannadice, with some smart plays that turn heads. Yes, the finish of him was not in form, but the player who left the fans with their mouths open showed that there are more emotions to come.
The Dundee United manager has enjoyed a season to savor, it’s easy to forget the self-doubt that followed his appointment in Discovery City. His effervescent style seemed out of place after a stuttering 2-0 loss to Aberdeen on the opening day of the season, however the former Kelty Hearts boss has proven tactically adept throughout the season.
And his men are one result away from gaining a foothold in European football next season. The many 40-year-old fans south of the border and his heady combination of enthusiasm and sensitivity as a manager make him an obvious candidate for other clubs. But Tannadice’s bosses will be hell-bent on keeping him in place for a while, even if Fabrizio Romano rules him out.
strength in depth
Postecoglou’s management sense has been correctly heralded, but it’s only when you see the strength of his options that you now appreciate how tough he had it last fall and winter. The wounds were keenly felt before the January window cavalry arrived and the picture is different now. The bench is packed with top talent and the starting XI isn’t suffering, especially in the final third. It bodes well for next season, when the stakes will be raised with a return to the Champions League for the first time in five years.