Champions Celtic collect 28th victory of Scottish Premiership season at Dundee United
Last Updated: 06/04/14 5:08pm
Anthony Stokes: Nips in for Celtic's second at Tannadice
Early first-half strikes from Georgios Samaras and Anthony Stokes earned Scottish Premiership champions Celtic a 28th league victory of a stellar season in a 2-0 win over Dundee United at Tannadice.
Samaras struck with a powerful volley after just five minutes before Stokes doubled the champions' advantage with a cool finish (24) ahead of Neil Lennon's men comfortably seeing out the game for another three points.
Top-scorer Kris Commons endured a rare scoreless 90 minutes but ably assisted in both goals, the first a swinging free-kick which Greece international Samaras blasted on the full past exposed United keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak despite the attention of centre-half Sean Dillon.
Commons was also to the fore when playing a one-two with Republic of Ireland forward Stokes for the Irishman to stroke past Cierzniak for a sixth goal in the past six outings with the Tangerines.
The visitors had taken the lead with the first effort on goal of the game after Tannadice striker Brian Graham had clipped the heels of Beram Kayal, preventing the Israel midfielder burrowing towards the United box.
When Commons curled the free-kick into the box Samaras won the race to the ball with a clutch of other players and volleyed into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
The goal knocked the home side of their slumber and they began to make inroads into the game, with defender Gavin Gunning driving high over the bar from inside the box.
However, Celtic asserted themselves and their second goal came after a spell of good possession ended with Stokes playing a one-two with Commons and driving into the box past weak United attempts to intervene before slamming his shot high past Cierzniak.
It was all too comfortable for the Hoops who cruised to the interval, Stokes having another effort which Cierzniak saved.
Former Celtic defender Jackie McNamara introduced Gary Mackay-Steven for Graham after the restart as he sought to get his United side into the game and aid their claim for European football after the league split.
Honduras left-back Izaguirre moved quickly to snuff out a home attack instigated by the replacement before Ryan Dow put the ball in Forster's net, but the forward had strayed offside.
Young midfielder Liam Henderson, on a yellow card, made way for Leigh Griffiths as Celtic sought a third and the Scotland international was almost immediately clear on goal, from Efe Ambrose's pass, but Cierzniak was quick to snuff out the danger.
The vastly-improved Taysiders came closest to reducing the deficit when Keith Watson's left-footed shot from 14 yards slipped past the far post while Celtic sub Griffiths curled a shot inches wide just after the hour before keeper Cierzniak saved superbly at the feet of Commons.
Forster had saves from Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong in the final stages but Celtic were far from hanging on and strolled to the finish line with the hosts seemingly having one eye on the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers at Ibrox next weekend.
Lennon's team, meanwhile, stayed on course to break the magical 100-point barrier, on 88 with five games remaining.