Celtic continue at almighty lick at Dundee but disruptions from some supporters let them down
Ange Postecoglou’s men are moving forward at an almighty lick. The victory, choc-full of vibrant and fluent forward play, slick interchanges at pace and devastating results that made them a delight to watch, was a fourth league straight on the road for a team previously starved of any more than seven months. And as we enter the international break, Celtic can point to a run of seven games where the only aberration was last weekend’s scoreless draw at home to Livingston, despite a programme that would have held countless pitfalls for them not so very long ago.
Meanwhile, just as apparent from recent events, is that Celtic have part of its support that both is letting the side down, and does not value those that are representing them on the pitch. It could be no other way with the conduct of a section of some of the away fans in Dens Park. They would have known full well the consequences of singing through the Remembrance Day minute’s silence that forced referee Willie Collum to cut it short. The deliberate act sabotaged the narrative from the day, which should have surrounded the scintillating two-goal snaring performances of Jota and Kyogo Furuhashi.
Moreover, Dundee took care to state that the silence was for “all the fallen” in wars. That then included Aidan McAnespie, the young man killed by the British Army in 1988, that they breached the silence to sing about. With their constant IRA chanting, a section of Celtic’s away support are time-warped in the 1980s even as what they would see as their community in the north of Ireland has firmly moved on. In large part, they have no time for the trivialising and glorying in their pain then for wind-up purposes.
Likewise with their protest, led by the Green Brigade, against the entirely ill-suited current assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins reportedly being lined up for a security role at the club. To throw on dozens of tennis balls on to the field seconds after kick-off only stopped their team getting into their stride, with the game forced to be paused as such as Joe Hart, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Stephen Welsh were forced to go around removing them from the pitch.
Sections of the Celtic support on Tayside – who threw in bigotry and misogyny with some of their other ditties – seemed little deserving of the side crafted by Postecolgou to serve up football at most intoxicating and engaging.
They fruits of these laudable ambitions were never more clearly evidenced than in Celtic’s goal to make in 4-1 in the 50th minute. It really should have come in 67 because the way the sliced Dundee defence to ribbons with Jota exchanges passes with Callum McGregor before setting up Furuhashi to smear an effort high into the net was a Celtic strike that could have come from their halcyon days.
Mind you, there were still defensive deficiencies. It was slapdash for Joe Hart to have a fresh air swipe at a cross and allow Lee Ashcroft to head in shortly after the Japanese striker had claim his second of the day. But it was reward for Dundee refusing to be completely submerged by a Celtic attacking flow that regularly reached torrent levels.
In that, the rehabilitation of Anthony Ralston continued at pace. In the week he signed a new contract tying him to the club to 2025, he claimed himself three assists to share the limelight with the unplayable Jota, so nimble and graceful he could feature on Strictly, and the forever deadly Furuhashi.
A shot that deflected off the post to pop out for the Portuguese winger to drive in from close range provided Ralston with his first contribution to Celtic’s goalscoring only eight minutes in. In the 9th minute, the right-back turned winger, Liel Abada sharply setting him up on the flank and Ralston responding with an artful cross that Furuhashi beat Ashcroft to head in.
Dundee gave themselves a lifeline by practically charging upfield – Danny Mullan doing the motoring – and pulling one back with Mullen jumping between Carter-Vickers and Welsh, but a moment of relief was never going to transform into anything more.
Celtic’s, in appearing men possessed following the break, made certain of that with two goals inside three minutes, with Ralston showing the strength to match his earlier poise by dispossessing Adams near the corner flag and flipping over a cross that Jota produced a volley with the outside of his right-foot to beat Adam Legzdins all ends up.
Jota has now netted six goals in his past 10 games for Celtic and, in one of the few moments of chanting levity, it was amusing to hear the away support sign “sing him up” of the on-loan Benfica attacker when he was withdrawn to take the accolades in the 81st minute. Apparently, that would cost around £6million at the end of his season-long loan deal. Right now, that seems as if it would be a steal.
Dundee: Legzdins, Kerr, Ashcroft, Sweeney, Marshall, Anderson, Adam (McGowan 57), McMullan, Elliot (McGhee 64), McGowan, Mullen (Cummings 72 ). Subs: Lawlor, Fontaine, Panter, Lamb.
Celtic: Hart, Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Welsh, Juranovic, Bitton, McGregor, Turnbull, Abada (Forrest 61), Jota (Johnston 81), Furuhashi (Giakoumakis 61). Sub: Bain, Scales, McCarthy, Johnston, Montgomery.