Larsson goal keeps Bhoys on title trail

Celtic 1 Dunfermline 0

The Swedish striker pounced with a first half goal to keep the Hoops on Premier League leaders Rangers’ tail.

Larsson won the Golden Shoe award with his 53 goals in their first title-winning triumph under the Parkhead boss and, injuries permitting, O’Neill still believes that feat can be matched.

O’Neill said: “It was a brilliant goal. You still have to squeeze it in between the two of them. It was exquisite without a doubt.

“If he stays clear of injury then he could do as well as he did two years ago. He’s been terrific for us.

“He’s got a long way to go to reach that tally and, after the Aberdeen game on Thursday, he’ll be thinking about a family holiday before going away with the team.”

However, Larsson and his team-mates looked as though the winter break could not come quick enough and O’Neill conceded his side looked drained after their gruelling schedule so far this season: “It was hard work for us and I have to admit we looked a bit tired. I’m obviously pleased to have won the game and Dunfermline always had a chance at 1-0.

“We have just one more game to go at Aberdeen and, after that, we will start thinking about the refreshing break.

“It was very difficult as it was our 10th game in 35 days or so and it’s beginning to take its toll on the players so I’m delighted to have won, but I am looking to one more game against Aberdeen and then having time to recover.”

However, furious Dunfermline manager Jimmy Calderwood vented his anger at referee Stuart Dougal and linesman Stuart Logan after Craig Brewster appeared to be pulled back by Joos Valgaeren during the second half.

The veteran Pars forward was left furious after the 56th minute incident and Calderwood maintains the decision cost him his first ever point against Celtic since taking charge at East End Park.

Calderwood fumed: “The referee didn’t give the free-kick. It’s hard enough against the Old Firm and I thought Craig was through even though he isn’t the quickest.

“He pulled him back and he was straight through. That was a bad decision and he (Dougal) didn’t want to discuss it after.

“That was important because I felt at that time Celtic were on the rack and the longer the game went on we looked more confident.

“Celtic looked tired but again we haven’t done it here when it was there for the taking.

“We didn’t create that many opportunities but our keeper didn’t have that many saves to make.

“It is always difficult here with the quality they have and quality delivery but I don’t want to get into any trouble. Everybody saw it and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened had it been at the other end.

“It’s difficult for the referee and they’re only human and John Underhill was tremendous last week at Partick for holding his hands up to a mistake.

“If Stuart Dougal admits to making a mistake, then I can live with that.

“Maybe he never saw anything but what is somebody with the flag doing?”

CELTIC: Hedman, Mjallby, Balde, Valgaeren, Agathe, Lambert, Petrov (Guppy 61), Sutton, Thompson, Larsson, Hartson (McNamara 75).

DUNFERMLINE: Stillie, Skerla, Walker (Dair 77), Scott Wilson, Bullen, Nicholson, Scott Thomson, Mason (Dempsey 53), McGroarty, Crawford, Brewster (Hampshire 83).

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