Celtic save blushes with two-goal comeback

Celtic came from two behind against Dundee United to rescue a point in a dramatic Bank of Scotland Premier League clash at Parkhead.

Celtic 2 Dundee Utd 2

Celtic came from two behind against Dundee United to rescue a point in a dramatic Bank of Scotland Premier League clash at Parkhead.

Goals by David Robertson and Collin Samuel looked like giving the visitors their first SPL win at Celtic Park in 14 years.

But in a second-half turnaround substitute Darren O’Dea, who had replaced Bobo Balde, grabbed a goal with 12 minutes remaining before Shunsuke Nakamura curled in a delightful equaliser two minutes later.

It was a more than creditable comeback from the champions who, at one point, looked to be heading for their first home SPL defeat this season.

United may feel they should have hung onto their two-goal lead but in the end they were probably happy to leave with the point.

After a nervy start Celtic carved out the first good chance of the afternoon in the seventh minute when left-back Lee Naylor put Nakamura through on the left-hand side of the United penalty area but the Japanese midfielder drove inches past the far post with Tannadice keeper Derek Stillie beaten.

In the 15th minute Jarosik did well to win the battle with United defender David McCracken on the edge of the United penalty area and then appeared to be held down but referee Brian Winter played on.

And two minutes later the Celtic faithful had more to complain about when the visitors took a shock lead.

Midfielder Barry Robson played the ball to Lee Mair on the right whose cross to the back post was met by Robertson who planted his close-range header past Hoops keeper Artur Boruc.

As the home side pressed for the equaliser Mair came to the rescue of United when his perfectly-timed block tackle on Maciej Zurawski prevented the Poland striker almost certainly equalising.

And in the 26th minute, Robson almost added to growing frustration inside Celtic Park when his curling shot from the edge of the Hoops’ penalty area went just a foot over.

With United’s offside trap remaining intact, the Celtic players struggled to make any real headway towards Stillie.

More woe visited the champions in the 37th minute when defender Bobo Balde injured his leg over-stretching to clear at the edge of his own box and had to be carried off.

Four minutes into the second half, after Robson had clattered Evander Sno to win the ball, Grant Smith sent a shot from 30 yards just past Boruc’s left-hand post.

Moments later Celtic defender Paul Telfer carelessly lost possession to Samuel in his own penalty area but Smith’s effort was saved by the keeper.

At the other end, Aiden McGeady’s cross from the left was missed by Tannadice defender Garry Kenneth and the ball ran across the six-yard box before rolling past the far post.

Miller replaced the ineffective Jarosik in the 56th minute but a minute later the home side were two down.

A Robson free-kick from the right was headed down at the back post by Kenneth and quickly swept across goal by Craig Conway to Samuel who prodded the ball in from six yards.

Derek Riordan replaced McGeady on the hour mark as manager Gordon Strachan tried desperately to get his side back in contention.

Riordan was denied by an outstanding Stillie save, the United keeper diving low to his left to turn the Hoops’ midfielder’s right-footed drive from 12 yards past the post.

But a dramatic two-minute spell brought the home side back into the game.

O’Dea gave the Hoops hope in the 78th minute when he knocked home a Nakamura free-kick from six yards.

The home side were level when the Japanese midfielder took a Riordan pass and floated a delightful chip from 20 yards over the despairing Stillie.

Celtic pressed hard for the winner and in injury time Riordan’s effort from outside the box hit the post before rolling to safety with Stillie well out of his goal.

It was United, so comfortable for most of the match, who were hanging on desperately and grateful to hear the final whistle.

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