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Title Triumphs: The Games That Clinched The League

Number 4: Dundee United 2 Celtic 3 April 22nd 1981

Billy McNeill and John Clark are carried shoulder high by the Champions

Our series focusing on the games that won the league goes back to 1981 and an emotional night at Tannadice

The early 80s were extremely competitive in Scottish football. It may be hard for people to believe but Aberdeen and Dundee United were Celtic's regular challengers for trophies in those and actually won the league title on occasion. Our old pals Rangers were usually languishing in third or fourth place.

This season, 1981-82, was no different as both Dundee United and Aberdeen pushed Celtic hard during the season. Indeed, United knocked Celtic out of both domestic cups this season.

However, by April the contenders had fell away and Celtic had once more managed to get on top of the league, with Aberdeen's challenge all but ending after a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park and the title was all but sealed with a 1-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox on April 18th, with a nineteen year old Charlie Nicholas scoring the only goal of the game.

Celtic only needed a point to mathematically clinch the title, and four days later went to a Tannadice Park which had been taken over by Celtic fans, as also happened in 2008.

Celtic started with a bang, and after only two minutes went into the lead with a powerful Murdo MacLeod header. Untied equalised in the sixteenth minute when Willie Pettigrew took advantage of some poor Celtic defending. Celtic weren't to be denied however, and Frank McGarvey restored the lead with a poacher's goal from inside the six yard box, and the score remained 2-1 at Celtic at half-time despite both sides having chances in the rest of the first half.

The second half began with Dundee United on top and putting Celtic under serious pressure, but they were unable to get a goal Celtic went further ahead just before the hour mark with a fine goal. Tommy Burns took a MacLeod pass in his stride, gave his marker twisted blood on the edge of the box and swept the ball into the top corner. 3-1 to the Champions!

Dundee United pulled a goal back with through Paul Sturrock but Celtic were never in danger of not getting the point needed, and as the final whistle blew Celtic were Champions for the third time in five years.

The final whistle brought scenes of - that's right - wild celebrations as first captain Danny McGrain, then manager Billy McNeill and his assistant John Clark were carried shoulder high by the players in front of the adoring fans. Indeed, so great were the scenes at the end of the game the notoriously taciturn Dundee United manager Jim McLean was moved to praise the Celtic fans. "With supporters like that how can you fail to become Champions?" How indeed, Jim.