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Ronny Deila's delight as Celtic power towards another Scottish Premiership title

Dundee 1-2 Celtic

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic discarded their treble disappointment to beat Dundee 2-1 and go eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Ronny Deila's side had lost 3-2 to Inverness in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday and it took a while for them to get going at Dens Park before former Dundee United winger Gary Mackay-Steven opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a drive.

In the 63rd minute Virgil van Dijk, like he did against Caley Thistle, fired in a wonderful free-kick for his 10th goal of the season and, although Dees midfielder Jim McAlister pulled a goal back with three minutes remaining, it was not enough to stop the Scottish League Cup winners increasing their table-topping advantage over Aberdeen with five games remaining.

Deila said: "We were ready for the game and we won it. We deserved to win it.

"The fans made it almost better than playing at home and it was a very good night.

"We're in a good position now. Five games and eight points and we just have to put pressure on Aberdeen. You always get a bit nervy at the end but they didn't really have many chances.

"We won the game and that's what counts."

On Van Dijk's goal, the Hoops boss added: "Virgil showed last season he can do free kicks and he shows it in training too. We have to use it more."

The victory was a tonic for Celtic following their Hampden humbling and few would bet against them going all the way to their fourth successive title.

Mackay-Steven and fellow former United team-mate Stuart Armstrong were cup-tied for the Caley Thistle game but were drafted back in along with defender Efe Ambrose. Kris Commons dropped to the bench with Adam Matthews and Stefan Johansen out altogether.

Dundee midfielder Paul McGowan missed the match due to the curfew he is under following his recent conviction for police assault and he was one of three home changes with Paul Heffernan, Alex Harris and Northern Ireland's James McPake coming in and Iain Davidson and David Clarkson among the substitutes.

Celtic nudged ahead after referee Calum Murray belatedly awarded them a free-kick after Dens defender Thomas Konrad had crunched Mackay-Steven.

When Armstrong flighted the ball into the box Van Dijk's header at the back post landed at the feet of Mackay-Steven who controlled before firing high into the net.

And the Hoops were coasting after McPake was booked for a foul on Armstrong 25 yards from goal, providing the opportunity for Van Dijk to power the ball high into the net.

McAlister gave Dundee a glimmer of hope when he slid in a Paul McGinn cut-back but it was too little too late for the home side.

Dundee: Bain, Paul McGinn, Konrad, McPake, Dyer, Ferry (Davidson 69), McAlister, Harris (Tankulic 59), Stephen McGinn, Stewart, Heffernan.

Goal: McAlister 87

Subs not used: Letheren, Clarkson, Black, Wighton, Colquhoun

Celtic: Gordon, Ambrose, van Dijk, Denayer, Izaguirre (Tierney 81), Biton, Brown, Forrest (Commons 76), Armstrong, Mackay-Steven, Griffiths (Guidetti 76).

Goals: Mackay-Steven 32, Van Dijk 63

Subs not used: Stokes, Scepovic, Zaluska, Fisher

Rating: 6/10 Referee: Calum Murray

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