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Dundee Were Right To Go For It According To Bain


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Source: The Courier

Dundee may have shown more attacking intent than Celtic encountered in the Old Firm League Cup semi-final.

But the Hoops’ 2-0 Scottish Cup win at Dens Park over the Dark Blues was every bit as stress-free as the defeat of Rangers by the same scoreline had been the week before. Keeper Scott Bain had to be at his best to make this a respectable scoreline for Paul Hartley’s men on a day that the gameplan didn’t work.

The impressive former Alloa man insisted though that there were no regrets in the Dundee dressing room that the team was set-up (with three attackers) to take the match to their in-form opponents.

“You can sit in but eventually they’ll get a chance and pick you off over the 90 minutes,†Bain pointed out. “You might as well go for it and see it you can get a goal and hang on to it. We gave them too much time on the ball which made it easier for them than it should have been. They’re a good side. They pass the ball quickly and press you high.

“They keep hold of it and even when you’re pressing them they seem to come out the other side. It was always going to be tough if they played well.â€

Teenager Craig Wighton was a surprise starter up front, where he was joined by the more experienced Greg Stewart and Luka Tankulic. But none of the trio were able to make their mark.

Bain admitted: “It was hard for the strikers against people like van Dijk and Denayer. I think they strolled it today. We didn’t do enough to get their noses out of joint and make it a hard day for them. We’re disappointed that we’re out of the cup and that we didn’t give it a better go.â€

The Dundee formation was designed to push Celtic back but it was the Parkhead side, with their one out and out striker, who took control of the game and never let it go. It took just seven minutes for them to score.

Former Dundee favourite Lee Griffiths found the net with a lovely glancing header after he had timed his run to perfection, and Mikael Lustig had been equally accurate with his cross from the right.

Bain reflected: “We didn’t start the game as well as we have done over the last few weeks. It was a blow to lose a goal so early, and it was a bad one from our point of view. We never got going after that.â€

The chances just kept coming after that. Stefan Johansen thrived in the number 10 role behind Griffiths and would have scored three minutes later but for a fine last-gasp James McPake interception.

Mid-way through the half Johansen turned provider and, after Dundee’s midfield had coughed up possession, slipped the ball to James Forrest to his left. It should have been a simple finish but he shot straight at Scott Bain.

Dundee won a couple of corners around this time, and from one of them Kostadin Gadzhalov struck his volley well and it narrowly missed Craig Gordon’s left hand post.

It was a brief riposte though and that was as good as it got in terms of sustained home pressure.

Johansen had a chance of his own after holding off McPake, but Bain was again at the top of his game.

After being over-run for 44 minutes, Dundee nearly scored an equaliser in the 45th. Paul McGowan’s shot from the edge of the box seemed to come at Craig Gordon in slow-motion but he ended up having to be at full stretch to claw it away. That late scare for Celtic didn’t create self-doubt. It fired them up to put the game to bed. Which they did two minutes after the break.

Lustig crossed to the back post. A downward header from Griffiths was parried by Bain but Johansen gave him no chance with the re-bound. Bain couldn’t prevent that one but he was able to tip a Johansen cross that turned into a shot on to the bar, and from then neither team came close to altering the scoreline.

The 23-year-old is confident that Dundee will be able to get back to the sort of form that produced a six-game unbeaten league run when they return to Premiership action against Partick Thistle on Saturday.

“We need to keep the consistency that we had in the league before this game,†he said. “We’ve gone through a few sticky patches in the season and come out of them. I think we’re just a point off the top six and that’s what we’ll be pushing for during the rest of the season. There are a few big games in the next few weeks.â€

Dundee are only fighting on one front now, but Celtic are fighting on four. And a mouth-watering Europa League clash with Inter Milan on February 19 is looming large.

Their man of the match at Dens, Johansen, said: “Inter is going to be really good. They are a very good team, but, of course, I believe we can beat them. “If I didn’t think that, there would be something wrong with me. But it’s small differences and small things which can decide those games and we have to be ready, but the two league matches are most important now.â€

He added: “I speak for myself, but I feel how close we are to doing something special. We have a final against Dundee United and now we are in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup. The league is also going to be very tough, but we are in everything and I believe if we take one game at a time, it’s the best thing to do. I’m happy we have signed two good quality players (Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven) who can come in and complete the squad. They have done well in training and for sure will help us. At the moment, things are very good. We also kept the players we had and that just shows the gaffer means business and he’s serious about what’s he’s said. I’m the guy who talks one game at a time. We are still in everything and want to go as far as possible in Europe, but we know it’ll be tough. We just need to keep going with the form we are showing at the moment.â€

Dundee boss Paul Hartley acknowledged that his players were well below the standard they had set in the last few weeks and in their two previous games against Celtic this season.

He commented: “We said that if we’re going to go out of the Scottish Cup let’s go out having a real go. We talked about it all week. But we just didn’t perform. I think we only had one shot. I tried to stop Celtic playing from the back and press them high up but it didn’t work. And we thought we’d throw a spanner in the works in terms of playing young Wighton and giving it a different approach.â€

Even a fire alarm going off in their Dundee hotel in the early hours of the morning couldn’t knock Celtic off their stride.

Manager Ronny Deila is more content than he’s ever been with his team.

He said: “I’m very happy with the performance, the team spirit and the energy. We seem very quick and sharp, and I saw that in training last week. We are improving all the time. If we needed it, we had another level to go to. Today we won in a very good way, Dundee is not an easy team to beat and they have very good confidence now - they hadn’t lost for a few matches and I can see why.â€

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