Celtic ease past Dundee United - but John Beaton goes under microscope for some of his decisions

The Celtic juggernaut rattled along with supreme efficiency as Ange Postecoglou’s men banked a Scottish Cup semi-final place and a 30th domestic game unbeaten with a 3-0 success at Tannadice.

Celtic's Giorgios Giakoumakis (centre) makes it 3-0 during a Scottish Cup match between Dundee United and Celtic.
Celtic's Giorgios Giakoumakis (centre) makes it 3-0 during a Scottish Cup match between Dundee United and Celtic.

From the moment they took a 12th-minute lead through Callum McGregor, Dundee United never looked capable in any way of derailing the treble prospects of the cinch Premiership leaders and League Cup winners.

Celtic didn’t cough up a chance across the 90 minutes. In contrast, United keeper Benjamin Siegrist coughed up a howler to allow Celtic to play out the final half hour with breezy certainty. The Swiss inexplicably caught then dropped a Daizen Maeda cross from the right as if it were a wriggling trout, allowing the on-hand Giorgos Giakoumakis to prod in for the easiest of finish. The Greek added his second of the night in the 88th minute, when a mazy run from lively substitute Karamoko Dembele resulted in shot towards goal that Giakoumakis scrambled in.

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Postecoglou bemoaned last week that the post mortems for all-too-many Scottish games seemed to descend into “ref watch” rather than focus on any tactical analysis. The emphatic scoreline really ought to spare us key incidents in the first half being viewed as providing fodder for the quarter-final going the way of encounters framed – rightly or wrongly – by the contentious.

Celtic's Callum McGregor speaks with the referee John Beaton.

What there were no issues over was the manner in which Celtic claimed a 12th-minute lead. There was much angst among the club faithful at the absence of wide men Jota and Liel Abada in the travelling squad – the former with a slight knock and the latter through illness – but the visitors’ early strike suggested they were in no mood to be derailed through missing important personnel. Even as Tam Courts’ side had displayed intent and intensity in the opening exchanges.

These good intentions counted for nothing when Matt O’Riley played a short corner from the right to James Forrest, who then slipped it to McGregor, stationed just outside the box. Meeting the ball with venom, the Celtic captain’s angled low effort was travelling and on-target, but was helped on its way to the far corner of the net by cannoning off Nicky Clark.

Celtic were in charge from that point, but the control wasn’t universal with Reo Hatate steaming into a challenge on Kieran Freeman on the touchline half an hour in. Many in the stadium expected a red but referee John Beaton opted for a yellow to the fury of the home denizens. It was borderline between the two colours, in truth, but no doubt will exercise the minds of many in the coming days.

As will the failure of Beaton to award a goal when Celtic had the ball in the net 10 minutes before the interval. The phantom strike came from Maeda tapping in from close range after the ball had been knocked his way via Giakmoukas – who accidentally handled in doing so – following a right-wing cross from Juranovic. IFAB rule changes in the summer set out clearly that unintentional handball by all but scorers shouldn’t be punishable. All of that was rendered academic by the second-half cakewalk for Celtic. Let’s hope that turns out to be the case.

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