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Van Dijk calls for final Celtic flourish

By Robert Jones

Virgil van Dijk is looking for Celtic to finish the season on a "beautiful" high against Dundee United at Parkhead on Sunday after an unpleasant failure to reach and breach the 100-point mark in the Scottish Premiership this season.

When the Dutch defender scored in the second half to put the champions 3-1 up against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night, it looked like Celtic would move on to 98 points with one game remaining.

However, sloppy defending in the final stages saw Saints midfielders Scott Brown and Michael O'Halloran grab goals to earn a point for the Scottish Cup finalists and leave Neil Lennon's side unable to make the century mark.

Celtic will be presented with their trophy after the United match and Van Dijk is hoping by then the Hoops will have reinforced their status as the top team in the land.

The 22-year-old former FC Groningen player said: "It was very disappointing, 3-1 up and we still gave it away. I don't think we deserved to win.

"It would have been nice to have 100 points and 100 goals as well, that was definitely something that we wanted to do.

"The first half was very bad. I don't know the reason behind that. The second half was a little bit better but we shouldn't give it away like we did.

"We know we can do better and we need to do better. We have one more game left.

"So we want to make it a beautiful day on Sunday. We need to bounce back and show everyone and the fans why we are the champions of Scotland."

Both teams were much changed for their penultimate league fixture, Lennon looking to give some of his fringe players a game and Saints boss Tommy Wright with one eye on the upcoming cup final against Dundee United, and it made for an exciting encounter.

Defender Tim Clancy gave the home side the lead in the eighth minute.

Kris Commons, on for Derk Boerrigter for the start of the second half, levelled from the spot in the 53rd minute with his 31st goal of the season before striker Teemu Pukki and Van Dijk added further goals before their late collapse.

Former Celtic youth player O'Halloran was one of the St Johnstone players picked out for praise and he is hoping to have done enough to earn his cup final place against United at Celtic Park.

"The manager told us before the game we were playing for places" he said. "I want to be playing, I hope I've made my mark."

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