2 - 0
League Cup (Final)
Kris Commons (28)
James Forrest (79)
Virgil van Dijk
James Forrest for Kris Commons (69)
John Guidetti for Leigh Griffiths (69)
Liam Henderson for Nir Biton (82)
Henri Anier for Mario Bilate (59)
Chris Erskine for Paul Paton (72)
Ryan McGowan (34)
Seán Dillon (56)
Bobby Madden (Referee)
Nadir Ciftci was suspended after a second yellow card in the Semi Final win over Aberdeen which meant a first start since returning from injury for Mario Bilate. Dropping onto the bench was Aidan Connolly who was replaced in the side by Callum Morris, also returning from a spell on the sidelines. This meant a change of position for Ryan McGowan who moved into the right midfield role in front of Sean Dillon. A massive Tangerine Army of 18000 was in attendance and held out hope of watching their side lift the trophy for the third time.
There was a scare for the Tangerines as early as the 3rd minute when an Anthony Stokes corner was headed towards goal by Virgil Van Dijk but Sean Dillon made a timely intervention to head off the line and prevent a certain opener. The Tannadice side were trying to break whenever possible but again Celtic had a chance in the 8th minute when a short pass back from Morris let in Leigh Griffiths who could only put the ball into the side netting after getting beyond Cierzniak. Ryan Dow then broke forward and earned United their first real chance when he was felled at the edge of the box by Efe Ambrose. Paul Dixon stepped up to take the free kick but he struck the wall before Paul Paton had his attempt from the rebound cleared. Celtic were enjoying most of the possession but there was another United chance in the 17th minute as a McGowan throw into the box was headed on by Bilate but the ball wouldn’t land for John Rankin allowing Craig Gordon to smother. There was a lull in proceedings before Dillon went off to receive treatment for an injury sustained in a collision with Van Dijk. It was when the Terrors were temporarily down to 10 men that the crucial opening goal was conceded. Anthony Stokes crossed the ball to Kris Commons and his first shot deflected off Fojut before Cierzniak touched the ball onto the post, however Kris Commons reacted quickest to tuck away the rebound from a tight angle inside the 6 yard box. Leigh Griffiths then got clear of the United defence and his shot was diverted for a corner as the Tangerines looked to regain composure. Having spent the best part of 10 minutes a man light Dillon was finally able to return to the field after receiving treatment. In 35 minutes Cierzniak did well to turn a low Commons shot round the post before there were loud appeals for a United penalty when Dow was barged from behind by Scott Brown deep in the box. Bobby Madden hesitated but then waved play on much to the disbelief of those in the United camp. As half time neared another long throw from McGowan was met by the head of Dow but there wasn’t enough power generated to trouble Gordon who held comfortably. Right on half time and after Dillon had headed away another corner Cierzniak held a Commons shot from outside the box to keep the deficit at 1-0 going into half time.
The second half began in a similar fashion with Celtic maintaining the territorial advantage and United trying to break out quickly when the opportunity arose. In 51 minutes Bilate latched onto a long clearance from Dixon and cut inside at the edge of the box before seeing his shot deflected off Van Dijk into the arms of Gordon. There was then a major blow for United in the 55th minute when Dillon received a straight red card for a late lunge on Emilio Izaguirre. The Irishman had over run the ball and unfortunately it was his eagerness to recover possession that led to the challenge being made. The Tangerines were understandably under a good bit of pressure being a man light but were dealing with the constant delivery into the box very well. In the 67th minute when a Stokes cross did find a Celtic player Stefan Johansen slipped a downward shot narrowly wide of the post. Johansen then missed with a close range header and Stokes sliced wide as the Terrors looked to cling onto some hope as the clock ran down. There was a brief flurry of United pressure with just less than a quarter of an hour remaining and again the long throw from McGowan caused concern in the Celtic box but the bounce of the ball just wouldn’t fall United’s way. The Tangerine faithful roared their team on but the second goal that they feared came in the 79th minute when, despite a brilliant initial tackle from Morris, the ball broke back to substitute James Forrest who struck into the net from 20 yards out. Chris Erskine, on for Paton, then sliced an effort wide from outside the box as he looked to spark some late hope. It looked all but over when with 5 minutes to go Celtic were awarded a penalty as Forrest went down under a Dixon challenge strikingly reminiscent of the one on Dow before the break. As he has done throughout this competition however Cierzniak was equal to the task as he read Forrest’s kick well to save with his legs. As far as far as chances were concerned that was to be the last as time ran out on United and their dreams were dashed.
“The ordering-off and them scoring when we went down to 10 men were turning points. It was a nasty cut on Sean Dillon's leg, he had to go off, it took a bit of time. We were possibly going to make the change but they told us it wasn't going to be long, but he had a lot of stitches in his leg which went unnoticed - the challenge as well. Ryan thought it was a penalty, I'd need to see it again. If you compare the two penalties, I don't think there's much difference. The boys will be hurting and down but I can't fault them for effort, I'm proud of how they kept going together. The fans too, they stuck with us. It's not easy to watch when everything is going against you."
“Many Arabs had mentally prepared themselves for this final, setting a low expectation based on recent transfers and poor form. So it was not nearly as sickening as the Scottish Cup final loss last May. The United fans kept singing right to the end and appreciated the effort of the team. One wonders how the game may have went if Dillon had been substituted straight away. When we went down to ten men the game was effectively over. It is hard enough to beat Celtic in a Glasgow Cup Final with 11 men never mind with a player disadvantage. On the plus side, there is a game in a couple of days and a chance to make amends.”
Match Photos courtesy of Riki Grauer - More photos available at:
Dundee United Official Flickr Page
|Radoslaw Cierzniak (GK)||31||33||-||124||-|
|Chris Erskine (sub)||28||31||7||40||8|
|Henri Anier (sub)||24||9||1||9||1|
No league table has been added for this season.