Celtic win at Dundee, go seven points clear
© Getty Images

Celtic had to weather a second-half storm as they increased their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to seven points with a hard-fought 2-0 win over bottom of the table Dundee at Dens Park.

Tony Watt had come close and Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose saw an effort come off the bar before a superbly-hit overhead kick from Georgios Samaras gave Celtic a 16th-minute lead.

However, Dundee rallied after the break and Fraser Forster made a magnificent point-blank save to deny a Colin Nish header before John Baird's effort was blocked by Emilio Izaguirre.

With the home side pushing forward looking for a leveller the defence switched off, and Gary Hooper took advantage of this to latch on to a through ball from Mikel Lustig and lob former Hoops keeper Rab Douglas to make it 2-0 in the 71st minute.

The win is Celtic's fifth in a row in the league and sees them seven points clear of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who could only manage a 2-2 draw with St. Mirren earlier in the day, and leaves Dundee nine points adrift at the bottom.

Teenage striker Watt was handed a rare start for Celtic and he raced into the box to get on the end of an Izaguirre cross, but his left-foot effort was scrambled round the post by Douglas.

Celtic nearly took the lead from the resultant corner when Ambrose connected with Charlie Mulgrew's inswinging effort with his thigh, but the ball crashed off the bar before Victor Wanyama volleyed the rebound over.

A spectacular effort from Samaras opened the scoring in the 16th minute. Another inswinging corner from Mulgrew was met by Watt at the back post and Douglas could only parry the ball as far as the Greek forward, who hit a superb overhead kick from eight yards out.

Just before the break Ambrose cut in from the right and fired in a shot that Douglas plucked out the air in a comfortable save.

Dundee emerged after the break looking like a different team and only a fantastic save from Forster in the 50th minute kept the Hoops in front.  Ryan Conroy lifted the ball into the box from left wing and Forster made a point blank save to deny Nish's bullet header.

Minutes later Conroy's free-kick was cleared by Ambrose only as far as Kevin McBride who lashed a first-time shot just wide. Celtic were on the back foot and only the out-stretched leg of Izaguirre denied Dundee a leveller when the Honduran defender blocked Baird's fierce strike.

The Hoops slowly started to find a way back into the game and Douglas had to be alert to make a save from team-mate Kyle Benedictus who diverted substitute Mikel Lustig's cross towards goal under pressure from Hooper.

A moment of slackness in the Dundee defence handed Celtic a two-goal cushion in the 71st minute.  Lustig pinged the ball up the inside right channel and the English striker managed to evade the Dundee defence and took a touch before lifting the ball over Douglas and into the net from 12 yards out.

Dundee didn't give up and Forster had to scramble to tip a looping header from Nish over the bar two minutes later.