Islam Feruz scored his first ever competitive goal to seal Celtic’s 2-0 win over Dundee United today.
The 15-year-old was sent on as an 83rd minute substitute for Bahrudin Atajic and showed a cool head to net from 15 yards out as United pushed furiously for an equaliser.
Despite a four week lay off Celtic dominated the first half with some great passing movements but were fortunate not to conceded a goal after the break as the visitors pressed for an equaliser.
Atajic gave Celtic the lead in the 33rd minute finishing off a great passing move involving Callum McGregor and Patrik Twardzik but the homeside should have had more to show for their efforts.
The win maintains Celtic’s 100% record with four wins out of four with Robbie Thompson also recording his fourth consecutive clean sheet.
“They’ll go away thinking that they deserved something from the game but I think we deserved our win,” coach Stevie Frail claimed. “We were the better team and showed that in the first half, they got a reaction from what was said at half time and you’d expect that.
“We’re not happy with the way that we played in the second half but I felt that we merited the three points. We know that we can do better and the players were a little bit subdued after the match- they know that they can do better.
“We were really pleased with our first half performance, we played well, had a lot of possession and good passing. The tempo was good and we got the goal at a good time.
“In the second half we just never got going properly, all it would have taken would have been a shot or a deflection and the ball could have ended in the back of the net. They could have had a penalty in the second half, a goal would have changed the whole game.
“We are at the players all the time that even if they don’t play well all they have to make sure that they are hard to beat. The players dug in, showed some character and got the second goal.”
McGregor was the first player to threaten the United goal when he jinked in from the right flank in the tenth minute but after creating space in the penalty box he shot into the side net.
Celtic were dominating the possession with full backs Stephen O’Donnell and Kieran Brennan pushing forward at every opportunity to stretch the United defence.
Just past the half hour mark Celtic made the breakthrough when McGregor cut out a pass 25 yards from goal. Looking up he spotted Patrik Twardzik in space in the box with Atajic anticipating the pass across goal to glide the ball into the net from six yards out.
“It was a good goal and a nice move,” Frail added. “We work Bahrudin hard every day in training. We’re at him every day because he is a talent.
“Some of his touches are excellent but he needs to do it all the time and be a threat. He’s better than he showed today and the same could be said for one or two other players.”
United almost equalised straight away from a free kick that forced Thompson into a good instinctive save.
Straight from the kick-off to the second half McGregor was the victim of a heavy foul in the centre circle but after lengthy treatment he was back in action as United pressed Celtic further and further back.
The United bench were angry when a penalty was denied in the 80th minute then saw a close range indirect free kick graze the bar and go over for a corner.
Thompson palmed a close range header over the bar two minutes later as United pressed for a point.
In the 89th minute of normal time Feruz showed his eye for goal by controlling a pass from Brennan and striking the ball across the ‘keeper in one movement to seal the points.
“People expect a lot from Islam but he’s only a kid of 15,” Frail added. “He is a talent and it’s good for him to be in our squad, you could see how happy he was with his goal.
“I told him to go play more central and we put Callum McGregor out wide again. Callum and Liam Gormley used their pace out wide and we told Islam to try and pick up in some areas and he produced a great finish.
“It’s been a few weeks since we last had a competitive game, we’re delighted to get the points and we can now look forward to playing St Mirren next week.”
CELTIC: Thompson; O’Donnell, Toshney, Hughes, Brennan; Lowdon, Bagshaw; McGregor, P Twardzik, Ordish; Atajic
SUBS Hart, Gormley (Ordish 73), Feruz (Atajic 83) Fisher, Heron, Chalmers, Fraser