Celtic went back to the top of The SPL with a 2-1 win over Dundee United that not only put the pressure back on Rangers, but was crucial in their hopes of defending the title.
Craig Levein’s side managed to carve out an early chance and test Artur Boruc, but Craig Conway’s low drive went wide of the target, however there was no real danger for Celtic as Boruc had his near post well covered.
Scott Brown, who completed his two-match ban after missing the Old Firm clash at the weekend, was restored to the heart of the Celtic midfield in the hope he could help Gordon Strachan’s side record their first win of the season in open play over the Tannadice side.
Celtic’s first real chance came after fourteen minutes and Georgios Samaras was very unlucky to see his shot ping an upright as Lukasz Zaluska could only watch in vain, as he was well beaten by the effort from the former Manchester City striker.
Dundee United’s first effort on target came from Francisco Sandaza and the Spanish striker’s header looked goal-bound until Boruc produced a superb save to deny him, but Celtic’s response to that was to launch a very quick counter attack and from it, the deadlock was broken.
Glenn Loovens converted a Shunsuke Nakamura corner to grab his fourth of the season and Parkhead erupted in the 22nd-minute.
Scott McDonald almost doubled the lead after some good play by Brown, but the Australian fired well wide of the mark as he tried to chip the United keeper.
Levein’s side were clearly rattled by the goal from Loovens and looked very nervous in possession as Celtic dominated the game, but the contest was starting to look very similar to their previous encounters.
United almost gave Celtic the second goal they were searching for as Lee Wilkie very nearly put a Samaras cross into his own net in a desperate attempt to keep out McDonald and at times they were their own worst enemy.
Like the previous league games this season, United always threatened whenever they could, Morgaro Gomis had Boruc scrambling backwards to keep out a cross that almost dipped in behind him, which would have been embarrassing for the Polish international, but he managed to hook the ball away to safety.
Garry Kenneth had the perfect opportunity to cancel out Looven’s first half goal, but for some unknown reason, he mis-hit his shot with not one Celtic player within a three-yard radius.
Things took a turn for the worse for Levein’s team early in the second half as Samaras increased Celtic’s lead thanks to a cruel deflection off United skipper Lee Wilkie, but could Celtic maintain the lead unlike before and take all three points?
Just seconds before the United manager decided to switch personnel in response to going two goals down, David Robertson pulled one back for the Tannadice side in the 57th-minute and again questions had to be asked over Celtic’s defending.
Danny Swanson was replaced by Andis Shala who’s first touch of the ball very nearly dragged the visitors level, and that again left the Celtic defence arguing amongst themselves.
Right before the supporters' eyes things were disintegrating on the park as Celtic, obviously stunned by Robertson’s goal, lost their composure and discipline.
Twice Bauben was left in acres of space and on both occasions he missed.
This had the Celtic faithful on their feet in anger as their team struggled to cope with a revitalised Dundee United.
Celtic’s problems were all of their own making and, in an attempt to add a third goal in order to restore their two-goal advantage, they looked nervous and fragile at the back.
For the neutral watching, the game was exciting and very entertaining, but with so much at stake for both teams it was obvious neither could contemplate drawing, or losing the game and that alone had everyone in the stadium on the edge of their seats.
Celtic went back to the top of the table and the display from The SPL champions was less than convincing, but then again, at this stage in the season, any side will sacrifice performances for points, and that is what Celtic did on the night.