Sunday, January 11, 2009

Prodigal Son Returns as Celtic Beat Dundee To Advance in Scottish Cup

Aiden McGeady returned from club suspension to score the winning goal as Celtic progressed in the Scottish Cup at the expense of Dundee yesterday.

In a miserable day where football was restricted because of the weather, McGeady came up with a moment of brilliance to ease Celtic's hearts and keep them in the hunt for the double of league and cup...

Dundee took an early lead through Colin McMenamin after another Arthur Boruc howler, the Polish international came for the ball and missed it completely to leave McMenamin with an easy finish.

Boruc's form has been poor this season, and yesterdays mistake was another to add to his growing catalogue. It is a surprising dip for the 'keeper who was rated as one of Europe's finest only two seasons ago, when clubs like AC Milan began to monitor his progress following impressive exploits in the Champions League.

Only last week Joe Kinnear made it known that he would like Boruc to replace Shay Given at Newcastle, should the Irishman move on as expected this January.

But the real story at Celtic Park yesterday was the return of Aiden McGeady.

He had been suspended and fined by Gordon Strachan following a dressing room bust up a little under a month ago, and as his suspension had ended last week he was expected to resume his part in the team. However Strachan left him out for the 2-2 draw with Dundee Utd.

This further escalation in the suspension sent British printing presses into overdrive as the diminutive winger was linked with a number of big money moves to clubs south of the border.

However, Strachan returned McGeady to the starting line-up yesterday, and in treacherous conditions the Irishman put in a man of the match performance and came up with the winning goal.

With Dundee taking an early lead and threatening to turn this Prodigal son returning story into one of a huge cup upset, Celtic had to win this game the hard way.

After starting badly Celtic continued to stutter and they struggled to create any clear cut chances. Scott McDonald missed a couple as the Glasgow side began to get on top.

Coming towards the end of the first half, Celtic's dominance paid dividends as Dundee began to wane under the intense pressure.

Brown got down the left and pulled the ball back to McDonald who shot first time. But he had miscued badly and as the ball took off an a trajectory that would have brought the ball wide, it deflected off a number of Dundee players before settling nicely in front of Brown who stroked it home with aplomb.

With Celtic back on level terms, it was only a matter of when they scored next, and McGeady came up with that bit of magic as the clock counted down for the first half.

Jinking in from the left, McGeady ghosted past a couple of Dundee players before he curled a superlative shot into the top corner of the far post, Douglas in the Dundee goal might as well have been a spectator.

The second half kicked off with Celtic in much better mood, and they looked like putting the game beyond doubt before you could see a Dundee goal.

Aiden McGeady, clearly enjoying life back in the starting XI, made light of the poor conditions to go close on a number of occasions. Douglas tipping the pick of McGeady's chances over the bar at full stretch.

Jan Vennegoor of Hessilink also went close after he had been played through by Shunsuke Nakamura. Celtic were piling on the pressure as the match moved into the final third, but they were almost caught napping as McMenamin broke free of his markers to graze Boruc's post from outside the box.

As the game moved into the last couple of minutes Celtic went close again, this time Nakamura going inches wide. And just to show that Celtic's dominance and lack of goals meant the game was still alive, Arthur Boruc made another calamitous error.

This time luck smiled on the brave, but Gordon Strachan knows he'll have to deal with Boruc sooner rather than later if Celtic are to hold off Rangers expected late run at the title.

On a day where all the focus began on McGeady's future at Celtic, it ended with the spotlight on Boruc and the likeable Pole has it all to do if he is secure his future at Celtic.

twitter / WillieGannon