Our series leading up to this weekend's Scottish Cup semi final continues with the all conquering Celtic side of 2001.
Some of the games in this series so far - 1995 and 2005 - for example, featured Celtic teams with obvious flaws, neither of which won the title in that particular season. This isn't the case with the Celtic team featured in today's article though. The Bhoys of 2000-2001 had already won the league cup and clinched the league - shades of 2017 - before this game took place. And look at the players in the team, Sutton, Larsson, Lambert, Lennon, Thompson, Moravcik, Mjallby...perhaps one of the greatest Celtic squads of the last thirty years.
Despite all of it's quality, Celtic began the game on the back foot, and United had the first chance of the game when Charlie Miller shot over the bar. Celtic gradually started to take control of the game, and almost took the lead in the 26th minute, when a Chris Sutton header hit the bar with Paul Gallacher beaten. The opening goal was only delayed by six minutes though, and what a goal it was.
A Mjallby ball found its way to the goal line and before it went out for a goal kick Chris Sutton manged to swing a leg at the ball and get the cross into the penalty box, where Henrik Larsson, stretching at full length and with Jim Lauchlan marking him, flashed a header into the top corner before Gallacher even had a chance to react. Perhaps one of the best goals of Larsson's entire career.
1-0 to Celtic at half-time, and early in the second half Larsson almost got his second, but his shot curled just wide of goal. A rare United chance occurred when Rab Douglas completely misjudged a Buchan cross but Valgaeren managed to clear the ball away.
The game was made safe in the 78th minute. Larsson was tripped in the box by Griffin, then stepped up and blasted the penalty straight down the middle and into the net. 2-0 to Celtic.
A minute later it was 3-0. a Larsson pass put McNamara through on goal and he finished in style, giving Gallacher no chance. In the 84th minute Lilley pulled a goal back for United but that was unable to take the off what was another very good Celtic performance. Two weeks later Celtic won at Ibrox for the first time in six years and stood on the verge of a first domestic treble in 22 years, an incredible about turn from a club which seemed in crisis only a year earlier.
Celtic 3 (Larsson 32' 78'(Pen) McNamara 79') Dundee United 1 (Lilley 84')