Published: 11th May 2014

In a typical end of season game United went down to a 3-1 defeat at Celtic Park. With the scores level at half time, Stokes and Samaras had the home side two ahead after an hour. A deflected Mackay-Steven cross pulled one back for United but Chris Commons put the result beyond doubt with ten minutes left. United looked impressive at times ahead of the big game next week.

Unsurprisingly Jackie McNamara rang the changes for United's final game of the Premiership campaign against Champions Celtic. First team regulars Robertson, Ciftci, Mackay-Steven and Armstrong all started in the bench. Returning to the starting eleven following the home defeat to Aberdeen were Cierzniak, Gauld and the influential midfield partnership of Paul Paton and John Rankin. With the game being played at Parkhead this was an ideal preparation for next weekend's Scottish Cup Final being played at the same venue.

First Half:

United had an early chance to test Fraser Forster when they won a free kick at the edge of the Celtic penalty box but Gunning fired his shot against the wall. Paton then crossed into the Celtic box but the ball cleared the head of El Alagui. Shortly after a Brown pass into the United box was just too long for Griffiths. With 20 minutes on the clock a flowing United move could have resulted in the opener but Van Dijk managed to thwart Dow just as he was about to shoot. At the other end Cierzniak then did well when he came off the line to block a Griffiths effort. Griffiths then had another shot saved after taking advantage of confusion in the United box but again Cierzniak did well. The home side were beginning to have more of the possession and twice within a minute Cierzniak again had to be alert, saving from both Stokes and Griffiths. Three minutes before the break United had another decent effort when, after good work from Gomis, Paton curled an effort just over the crossbar.

Second Half:

With five minutes of the second half gone United had their best chance of the afternoon to take the lead. Gauld forced a corner and after Wilson took a short kick he got the ball back and tested Forster with a low shot. The ball was parried into the path of El Alagui who shot over from close range. Just after that the home side thought they were ahead when Griffiths shot past Cierzniak but the linesman had already called an offside decision. With an hour gone Celtic went close again but Cierzniak saved well at the near post from a Commons shot. Two minutes later they did however take the lead. The ball was played out to Commons on the right and his cross found the head of Stokes who this time made no mistake. Commons was next to test Cierzniak who did well to save a powerful shot. With 20 minutes left United had a great chance to draw level. The ball was played up from the back and was flicked on brilliantly by El Alagui into the path of substitute Armstrong. The United youngster cut inside Van Dijk and sent in a low shot that Forster tipped round the post. Shortly after that the home side doubled their lead. Samaras beat the offside trap and cut inside Gunning. Cierzniak came off his line and fouled the Greek forward and the referee pointed to the spot. The Celtic forward took the spot kick himself and sent the United keeper the wrong way. United weren't giving up though and were back in the game with 12 minutes remaining. Armstrong played a great ball to Mackay-Steven who crossed into the Celtic box and the ball was deflected past Forster by the unfortunate Twardzik. Any hopes of a comeback were halted three minutes later when Commons capitalised on a Watson slip and he lofted the ball past the advancing Cierzniak. In the dying minutes Kayal had a great chance for a fourth but with the goal gaping he screwed his shot wide.

Summary: United put in a decent showing on an afternoon when they had very little to gain as far as the league was concerned. In spells they looked very lively moving forward and will go into next week's final in a confident mood.

Man of the match: With places up for grabs for next Saturday, Morgaro Gomis did his chances no harm with a tireless display in midfield.


Celtic : Forster, Ambrose, Van Dijk, Brown, Stokes, Commons, Mulgrew, Lustig (Kayal 76), Johansen, Griffiths (Samaras 57) Twardzik (Pukki 83)
Subs: Zaluska, Mouyokolo, Boerrigter, Henderson

United : Cierzniak, Wilson, Watson, Gunning, Dillon, Paton, Rankin (Fraser 82) Gomis, Dow (Armstrong 67) Gauld (Mackay-Steven 57) El Alagui
Subs : McCallum, Robertson, Graham, Ciftci

Referee: Willie Collum