Hooper: I'm still beating Stokes in goal stakes

Gary Hooper reminded Celtic boss Neil Lennon and strike partner Anthony Stokes what he is all about yesterday with the winning goal against Dundee United at Tannadice which cut the gap behind Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Rangers to four points.

Gary Hooper reminded Celtic boss Neil Lennon and strike partner Anthony Stokes what he is all about yesterday with the winning goal against Dundee United at Tannadice which cut the gap behind Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Rangers to four points.

The former Scunthorpe striker, 23, was dropped to the bench for the Europa League defeat to Atletico Madrid at Parkhead in midweek but returned to the starting eleven to score his 13th goal of the season.

In the 12th minute, in typical Hooper style, he took a James Forrest pass inside the United box before drilling the ball low past Dusan Pernis.

Despite a dull second half it was a deserved win for the visitors to keep the pressure on the champions with Hooper going two clear of Stokes in their personal competition.

“That’s 13 goals now, 10 in the league,” said Hooper. “My aim is to be top scorer and I am still beating Anthony Stokes. It is all friendly, we get on with it but we are here to score goals and we are doing that.

“He is trying to catch me and I am trying to get away from him but the main thing is getting the three points.

“It was disappointing (to get left out against Atletico) but I showed yesterday what I can do. I am here to score goals.”

Hooper admitted that Celtic fell away after the break but insists the win was all-important ahead of the game against Hearts at Celtic Park next week.

“We started off well in the first half and James and I linked up well and got the goal,” he said.

“The second half wasn’t as good as the first but we got the three points and that is the gap down to four points. We got the clean sheet as well so we are looking forward to next week now.”

Dundee United manager Peter Houston bemoaned a “technically poor performance” after 90 minutes in which they failed to really test Hoops keeper Fraser Forster and he believes it is time to address the lack of potency.

“We were losing too many goals a while back and we decided to work very hard on the defensive side of things,” he said.

“I think after yesterday, we will have to work on the other side. It was very disappointing day for us.”

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