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Celtic keep up chase


Celtic's Giorgios Samaras and Dundee United's Willo Flood battle for possession yesterday

Celtic's Giorgios Samaras and Dundee United's Willo Flood battle for possession yesterday

Lynne Cameron

Celtic's Giorgios Samaras and Dundee United's Willo Flood battle for possession yesterday

Dundee United 0 Celtic 1: Neil Lennon revealed he will be looking to offer Daniel Majstorovic a new contract if the Hoops stopper continues his current form at the heart of the Celtic defence.

The Sweden international has not always been a fans' favourite but was again solid as Gary Hooper's first-half strike was enough to beat Dundee United at Tannadice to cut the gap behind Clydesdale Bank Premier league leaders Rangers to four points.

Skipper Scott Brown signed an extended contract which keeps him at Celtic Park until 2015 and the Celtic boss will consider extending Majstorovic's current deal, which ends at the end of the season.

“The only people we will be speaking to are players who are out of contract at the end of the season,” said Lennon.

“As regards the rest of the squad we will see how see the season pans out.

“I think Majstorovic has been a really consistent performer in the last five or six games and that has given us an air of solidity at the back.

“I will speak to him in January and we will see how he is feeling.

“He is enjoying it here, that's for sure and if he keeps playing the way he is playing it will be difficult not to offer him something.

“He has shown tremendous character.

“He was a wee bit up and down but he has found his form now.

“He had a family bereavement not so long ago and I think that might have knocked him out of kilter a bit, which is totally understandable but we always knew that he could come back to the player that we want.

“He is experienced, assured, strong, dominant in the air and is dealing with things earlier and you can see the players getting a lift.”

Brown, who returned as a second-half substitute against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League in midweek following an ankle injury, was again on the bench, coming on for Glenn Loovens after the break. And Lennon is in no rush to bring the Scotland midfielder back into his starting XI.

He said: “He was always committed to the club and I was always confident that we would get him signed up and I'm absolutely delighted and I just want to get him playing again.

“But he has been out for two and a half months and we are on a decent run.

“There is a bit of football to get in him before we think about starting him.

“He did well when he came on and we will have a bounce game on Wednesday for him.”

Lennon was pleased that his side kept the pressure on Rangers, saying: “It was a great three points.

“I thought the first-half was as good as we have played away from home in terms of the pace and intensity.

“We pressed them really well, got a great goal and could have been two or three up at half-time.

“We were sloppy in the final third in the second half.

“But I thought Gary was great. I thought he was our most consistent forward, he is such an intelligent player and his first touch is very good.

“He has quick feet around the box and he is a good finisher and you could see that with the goal.”

For Dundee United manager Peter Houston it was an afternoon of “wrong decisions” and “bad choices” amid unusual incompetence. “Technically it was a really poor performance from us”, he said. “We let ourselves down and we didn't create too many chances.

“I had no complaints about the work-rate and effort but you expect that.

“But today the players took a touch and the second touch had to be a tackle.

“It is unlike our players to be knocking the ball out the park with nobody near them.

“The other side is, did the boys believe in themselves and I don't think we did as much as we did at Ibrox recently when we got beat 3-1 but played well.

“You can handle that.”

Belfast Telegraph