Keane: Pressure is on Rangers
Robbie Keane insists the pressure is now on Rangers after his winning goal against Dundee United took Celtic to within seven points of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders ahead of next week's Old Firm derby at Ibrox. Keane's first goal for the Hoops at Parkhead since arriving on loan from Tottenham Hotspur in January helped Tony Mowbray's men take advantage of Rangers' game at St. Johnstone being called off earlier in the day due to a frozen pitch.
With the chance of the gap being cut further to four points next Sunday, the Irishman said: "If you look at the points difference, Rangers are still in control of the situation. It's Rangers (title) to throw away. Of course it's going to be difficult at Ibrox, they are doing well at the moment, but the pressure is all on them.
"Sometimes its better to be chasing because we have absolutely nothing to lose. There is still a long way to go, but we will be going there to win the game."
The Irishman turned in a man-of-the-match performance and was coolness personified in the 21st minute when he raced on to a through ball from Diomansy Kamara to slot the ball past Tannadice goaleeper Dusan Pernis. Keane would love to add to his tally at Ibrox, but insists three points are more vital.
"It would mean a lot to me, but it's not about Robbie Keane, it's about Celtic," he said. "It's about every player that goes on to the park. We know we are chasing, so it's up to every individual to stand up and be counted.
"Of course, as a striker, you are judged on goals and you want to score goals, but I will be happy to come away with a 1-0 win from Ibrox with someone else scoring."
Tony Mowbray believes a win at Ibrox would "put some doubts in the minds of a few people". The Celtic manager started the post-match press conference with a gentle dig at the media, saying; "I didn't think you were interested in performances, generally." He then went on to say: "Today was about getting the points and moving on to next week. The good thing about next week is that we can influence it.
"I understand that, psychologically, if we can win, it will put some doubts in the minds of a few people. It could be four points by the end of next week and they still have to come here and then it could be one point. Everything else in between, we will have to wait and see what happens. There are lots of points to be played for."
Teens Thompson, Rogne shine
Mowbray was pleased with teenagers Josh Thompson and Thomas Rogne, whom he had to partner at the heart of his defence due to injuries and suspensions. He said: "They were thrown in to do a job and kept a clean sheet and stood up to the physical task that was in front of them.
"Looking at the team Dundee United put out, they thought there would be a weakness there. They had strong, physical guys up front, but they handled it well."
Darren O'Dea will be back from suspension next week, but Mowbray acknowledged that Glenn Loovens and Jos Hooiveld are still battling to recover from their hamstring injuries. He said: "Are we likely to have them back for next week? I don't know. They will both be chasing I would suggest.
"The bottom line is that they will only have a chance when they get their boots on and get on the training ground. The clock doesn't stop for anybody, we will wait and see."
United manager Peter Houston told his players at half-time that he would rather lose 7-1 than play as they had before the break. "It was disappointing because in the first half we just didn't create enough, keep the ball well enough or put the ball in the box - all the things that we asked of the players," he said.
"I said to them at half-time I would rather see us getting beat 7-1 by having a go because we came here with two strikers and two wide players who are like wingers. But I felt the second half was different, we created a couple of half-chances and we might have snatched a draw. It was a frustrating afternoon I have to say."
United captain Andy Webster returned from injury and would have impressed the watching Scotland coach Craig Levein, who will on Monday pick his first squad to play the Czech Republic in a friendly at Hampden next month.
Webster, who played under Levein at Hearts and Dundee United, played the prospect down, saying: "It's all hypothetical. Everyone wants to play for their country at the highest level and I'm no different. But my main focus is on doing well at Dundee United and take it from there."