Albian Ajeti produced a strong contender for miss of the season as Celtic slipped up again in the Premiership with a 1-1 home draw against Dundee United.
Ajeti blazed over from two yards and Celtic’s day might have been worse, with United adamant they should have had a first-half penalty when Cameron Carter-Vickers bundled over Nicky Clark.
Celtic took the lead early on through Liel Abada, but Ian Harkes levelled two minutes later to keep United one place above their hosts, who stay sixth, six points behind the leaders, Rangers.
David Turnbull, Tom Rogic and Jota hit the bar for Celtic but they failed to reproduce the form that had seen them score 26 goals in seven consecutive home wins, and have dropped more points than they have gained in the league. The full-time whistle was met by loud jeers.
Ange Postecoglou was without eight players, most of them attackers, and the only player he brought into the side, Josip Juranovic, limped off in the 26th minute.
“It’s quite remarkable that seven games in people are calling the title already,” Postecoglou said. “It’s just not how I work. I’m not pulling up stumps after seven games just because other people seem to think there is some sort of insurmountable challenge out there for us.
“If we weren’t playing well, if we were struggling through things, then by all means I would be looking at things a lot differently. With the efforts we are putting in at the moment, and the football we are playing, and the chances we are creating, and what we have got to come back into the team, I just see it totally differently.”
Celtic took the lead in the 16th minute when Abada got in front of his marker to head home Jota’s cross from six yards.
But United levelled with a similar goal. Ilmari Niskanen emerged with the ball on the left wing after Anthony Ralston’s sliding challenge and whipped in a cross which Harkes headed into the corner of the net from six yards.
Celtic should have hit back instantly from the same source as their opener. Abada brought down Jota’s far-post cross and squared for Ajeti but the striker blazed over from two yards right in the middle of the posts.
The next big talking point soon came after Celtic lost possession on the edge of their box. Carl Starfelt did not look comfortable receiving a Rogic pass and was robbed by Peter Pawlett before the ball fell for Clark. Carter-Vickers appeared to barge the forward on the back and Clark lost his footing, and the United players and bench were stunned when referee Kevin Clancy played on.
The Aberdeen manager, Stephen Glass, warned his players they were in danger of being dropped after going down 3-2 to St Mirren. The Dons have not won in eight games and Glass blamed individual errors for costing them the win in Paisley.
Aberdeen were 2-1 up through goals from Scott Brown and Christian Ramirez when Teddy Jenks was sent off early in the second half. Connor Ronan scored his second of the game and Marcus Fraser got the winner.
Glass said: “If you are a footballer, it comes down to your individual performance … You cannot continue making mistakes and expect to stay in the team.”
Hibernian ended a run of four straight defeats against St Johnstone with a hard-fought 1-0 home win thanks to Martin Boyle’s second-half penalty. The winger scored in the 61st minute after Jamie McCart was adjudged to have handled his shot.
McCart then collected a second booking 15 minutes from time for sarcastically applauding the far-side assistant referee. The result lifted Hibs back to second on goal difference, ahead of their rivals Hearts, while St Johnstone remain ninth.