Celtic crowned Scottish Premiership champions after draw at Dundee United
As Tony Ralston crossed for Giorgios Giakoumakis to open the scoring at Tannadice, Celtic’s party was in full swing. The Hoops, needing just a point to secure the Scottish Premiership title, had Dundee United at arm’s length.
United’s response, via a glorious Dylan Levitt moment, created brief moments of panic in the Celtic ranks. But ultimately only that. Ange Postecoglou has made great play of the fact there are various ways to cross a finish line. Celtic’s approach was to tiptoe, this draw sufficient to leave Rangers an insurmountable challenge. Celtic could have won, they should have won, but none of their followers will care. Postecoglou, who was in warm embrace with his staff at full time, has overturned a 25-point deficit as existed at the end of last season.
That Postecoglou’s men did not smash the tape to pieces is understandable. The Australian’s team is a new one, pieced together at a time when the club was in apparent crisis. Many of Celtic’s players had not encountered intensity anywhere near that as exists in Glasgow before this season. Having claimed the ultimate domestic prize, there is cause to think Celtic under Postecoglou will only improve.
The first half at Tannadice involved shadow boxing and little else. Reo Hatate fired well over the bar following Celtic’s finest piece of play, where the Japanese midfielder combined for a one two with Giakoumakis. The latter’s cross, six minutes before the interval, narrowly evaded James Forrest. United, despite having the carrot of European football ahead of them, were dismally passive during those opening 45 minutes.
Grim, too, was much of the verse from Celtic’s significant travelling support. In 2022, with an exciting football team to support and a title within grasp, concerted pro-IRA chanting bellowed out. Neither Celtic as a club nor Scottish football’s authorities do nearly enough to discourage this kind of behaviour. Hence, naturally, it continues.
Rangers were easing to victory against Ross County at Ibrox but there was never any prevailing sense of Celtic being in trouble. Ralston stood up a cross, United’s Liam Smith leapt and missed with a clearing header attempt. Giakoumakis nodded through the hands of Benjamin Siegrist.
A brief United rally followed. Rory MacLeod, a 16-year-old forward, cracked Joe Hart’s left-hand post with a low shot. Tony Watt headed against the Celtic woodwork. Charlie Mulgrew was afforded a decent set-piece opportunity from 20 yards out but curled into the awaiting hands of the former England goalkeeper.
Back came Celtic. Siegrist delivered a terrific one -handed save from Jota. Giakoumakis shot inches wide. But just when Celtic looked sure to double their lead, Levitt endorsed his blossoming reputation. The on-loan Manchester United midfielder curled beyond Hart from 25 yards, having collected a Mulgrew lay-off. Levitt’s graceful touch has been a recurring theme in United’s campaign.
Jota lashed into the side-netting as Celtic chased a victory that would add gloss to their status as champions. Daizen Maeda, following a glorious first touch, lashed into the stand as stoppage time ticked down. It mattered not; for the 10th time in 11 seasons, Celtic are the champions.