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Dundee United 0 Celtic 0: Tangerines’ top six hopes all but dashed as draw with Celtic means Rangers are champions

Dundee United midfielder Calum Butcher competes with Mohamed Elyounoussi for possession.
Dundee United midfielder Calum Butcher competes with Mohamed Elyounoussi for possession.

Dundee United won a heard-earned point from Celtic as Rangers were confirmed as champions.

The Terrors and the Hoops played out a goalless draw in Dundee that leaves United three points behind St Mirren in sixth and means Rangers are Premiership winners for the first time in a decade.

United showed one change from last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock, with Nicky Clark coming in for Adrian Sporle, who dropped to the bench after recovering from a heel injury.

Peter Pawlett’s return to the matchday squad after serving a two-game suspension was a boost for Micky Mellon’s men as they welcomed the Bhoys to Tannadice.

United stand firm against wave after wave of green and white attack

Motivated by the thought of preventing arch-rivals Rangers from being crowned champions, the Hoops came out the traps flying as a Light Blues-mandated message soared overhead.

A plane flew over Tannadice with a message from Rangers fans aimed at their great rivals Celtic as the Light Blues closed in on the their first top-flight title in a decade.

Far from the red arrows, it was green and white waves United had to contend with in the opening period.

Terrors stopper Benjamin Siegrist was a busy boy between the sticks, performing heroics to keep the Celts at bay.

After three minutes his save from Mohamed Elyounoussi’s header was comfortable but, soon after, a Diego Laxalt volley required two strong hands to punch clear as the visitors washed over the Tangerines.

The right flank was a clear target area, with Jonjoe Kenny and Ryan Christie wreaking havoc and striking fear into Ian Harkes and Jamie Robson.

Ryan Edwards got down well to block a goal-bound Odsonne Edouard strike and seemed, no matter how much United pressed Celtic, there was always a man in hoops free with infinite time on the ball.

United skipper Mark Reynolds closes down Odsonne Edouard.

What chances the Terrors did have they spurned, however they were encouragingly high in quantity.

Harkes chested down well before seeing his volley caught by Hoops No 1 Scott Bain before Siegrist denied Edouard on the counter.

Soon after, it was Harkes again with the chance up the other end but his deflected effort was easily saved by Bain.

Turnbull, Edouard and Laxalt all tried their luck before the break but to no avail before Marc McNulty lashed a half-chance well wide for United.

Terrors continue to fight and frustrate visiting Celts in much-improved second-half display

Mellon’s side would have been happy to go in goalless at the interval but it was much the same story as the second 45 got under way, with United remaining under the cosh.

Siegrist had to look alive again to denied Stephen Welsh’s header with his feet from a Turnbull corner.

Turnbull continued to play the role of tormentor, picking out Elyounoussi, but Siegrist was a match for it once more.

Callum McGregor’s effort just before the hour mark was comfortably caught before Edwards made an excellent last-ditch tackle to slow down the Celtic onslaught.

United had their first clear-cut chance of the half on 68 minutes as, closing in on the Celtic goal with a three-on-two break, McNulty elected to go it alone and forced a good save out of former Dundee goalie Bain.

Stephen Welsh came close to opening the scoring for Celtic.

On 74 minutes, Elyounoussi missed a glorious opportunity to head home the opener but took his eye off the ball as the cross floated behind for a United goal kick.

With time ticking away, United grew in belief as Celtic looked increasingly desperate.

Norway international Elyounoussi continued to look to most likely to break the deadlock as he flashed another past the post.

Logan Chalmers made his long-awaited return from injury, replacing Harkes on 79 minutes, to make his first appearance since hurting his ankle against Aberdeen in October last year.

Entering the final 10 minutes, with the injection of pace and energy brought by Chalmers and fellow-subs Pawlett and Louis Appere, the Tangerines looked the most likely to grab a late winner.

Rangers champions as United sit three points off sixth spot with a game to go

However, it was not to be, and United now prepare to welcome Aberdeen to Tannadice in two weeks’ time for their final pre-split fixture.

With St Johnstone a point ahead and both the Buddies and the Perth Saints possessing far greater goal differences, the top six looks an impossible dream for the Terrors.

As for Celtic, it was despair – their mission to win 10 league titles in a row finally confirmed as a failure, with Rangers unassailable at the top.

Dundee United (4-1-3-2): Siegrist (GK); L Smith, Edwards, Reynolds (C), Robson; Butcher; Fuchs, Clark (Pawlett 62), Harkes (Chalmers 79); McNulty (Appere 71), Shankland.

Subs not used: Deniz (GK), Sporle, Connolly, Hoti, Bolton, and Neilson.

Celtic (4-2-3-1): Bain (GK); Kenny, Ajer, Welsh, Laxalt; Brown (C) (Forrest 78), McGregor; Christie, Turnbull (Rogic 63), Elyounoussi (Griffiths 84); Edouard.

Subs not used: Barkas (GK), Duffy, Ajeti, Klimala, Soro and Montgomery.

Referee: Kevin Clancy.