You are viewing the content for Wednesday 27 December 2006

Celts claw back Tangerines but face Balde blow

CELTIC manager Gordon Strachan will wait for the medical verdict on Bobo Balde after the Hoops defender was carried off in the first-half of the 2-2 draw against Dundee United in the Bank of Scotland Premier League.

Balde seemed to overstretch while clearing the ball outside his own penalty area, his right leg buckling underneath him. After four minutes of treatment on the pitch, he was taken off and replaced by young Irishman Darren O’Dea, whose goal in the 78th minute sparked a dramatic comeback.

Goals by David Robertson and Collin Samuel looked like giving the visitors their first SPL win at Celtic Park in 14 years but two minutes after O’Dea’s goal, Shunsuke Nakamura curled in an equaliser from outside the box.

Celtic have right-back Mark Wilson out for two months with a knee injury while stopper Gary Caldwell is still sidelined with a groin strain. Strachan, who is still hopeful former Hearts captain Steven Pressley will join the Hoops in the New Year, is hoping that Balde does not become another long-term injury.

He said: "Bobo is feeling real pain on the outside of his shin. His leg seemed to crumble under him. We are running short of defenders and we will need to think about that in the next 24 hours.

"In saying that I thought Darren O’Dea was excellent when he came on."

Strachan hailed Nakamura "a genius" after the Japanese midfielder’s equaliser with 10 minutes to play.

He said: "We didn’t play well but Nakamura came to the fore. He is a genius. I don’t know what more he can do apart from carrying the players on his shoulders and playing at the same time.

"His personality today decided that we weren’t going to get beat. Some of the other players were maybe thinking that it might not be our day. That’s when you need big personalities who can say: ‘we can get something from this.’

"He is just a fantastic player."

Dundee United manager Craig Levein admits the result left him with a split personality.

He said: "I don’t know if you can have two different emotions but I’m delighted that we got a point and gutted that we didn’t get all three."

CELTIC: Boruc, Telfer, Balde (O’Dea 39), McManus, Naylor, Nakamura, Sno, Gravesen, McGeady (Riordan 61), Zurawski, Jarosik (Miller 56).

DUNDEE UTD: Stillie, Conway, Kenneth, Mair (Proctor 85), Duff, McCracken, Kerr, Smith (Cameron 84), Robertson, Robson, Samuel.

Referee: B Winter (Scotland).