Callum McGregor steals the show at Tannadice to send Celtic back to Hampden

By David Walton

March 14, 2022

Once again, Celtic captain Callum McGregor proved to be the main man for the Hoops in a confident 3-0 Scottish Cup victory over Dundee United at Tannadice.

With Jota and Liel Abada out, the onus was on the likes of Daizen Maeda, James Forrest, and Giorgos Giakoumakias to bring the performance levels necessary to blow the Arabs away and secure our place in the semi-finals.

But the man who stole the show was undoubtedly midfielder McGregor. He was, in every sense, the man who set tone for what was needed tonight.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

McGregor bossed the midfield battle after a hectic first 10-minute spell. His composure and care in possession allowed Celtic to settle. From there, he was at the heart of everything. Whether it be driving Celtic forward or breaking up United attacks, McGregor was absolutely everywhere.

The protection he gave the back 4 tonight was absolutely imperative. With United looking to put a high press on, it was down to McGregor as the number 8 to provide an efficient and tidy outlet to bring the ball out.

His close control was also superb on the night. This was a key reason as to why the likes of Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley found themselves in so much space at differing periods tonight. McGregor was consistently able to bring the ball forward, attract Utd players to the ball, and then shift it on to others who utilised the space.

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Callum McGregor set the standard as Celtic bag huge win over Dundee United

McGregor’s ability to keep the ball under pressure really did drain United of their spirit at key stages of the match. It became clear from an early stage that he would be bossing the midfield battle, and United looked resigned to that themselves.

Callum was also a real goal threat tonight. He showed e clever initiative for the opener in which he was part of a clever short-corner move that led to him drilling into the far corner. In addition to that, his drive also led to another great chance in the first 45 which he curled over.

But perhaps most importantly, McGregor ensured we were never in any danger after our opener. United couldn’t break beyond him and seriously work the Celtic defence as they would’ve liked.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Instead, the Tannadice outfit were forced to resort to long balls and crosses into the penalty box. Callum’s dominance tonight was everywhere to be seen.

On several occasions, United tried to build a head of steam. But whenever McGregor was intercepting the ball, he always looked to calm things down and ensure we regained our control. You can’t understate how important he was tonight.

Ange Postecoglou has recently been lauding Callum as “outstanding” [Daily Record]. On account of his performance tonight? No wonder.

In other news, Celtic boss Ange delivers perfect response to Ben Doak question; update on Jota and Abada