Celtic warm up for Scottish Cup final with closing win
Celtic ended a run of six away matches without a win as they warmed up for the Scottish Cup final with a comprehensive 4-0 defeat of Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday
With places in next weekend's showpiece final up for grabs a strong Celtic side impressed from the start as the champions brought down the curtain on a successful Scottish Premier League campaign.
Kris Commons opened the scoring in the 11th through a long-range free-kick that took a slight deflection before Georgios Samaras added another in the 17th minute.
Samaras had an effort ruled out for offside before he headed in a third in the 27th minute as Celtic dominated.
Celtic continued their onslaught in the second half and Gary Hooper thought he had added a fourth in the 53rd minute but his effort was also chalked off after the striker had strayed offside.
Substitute Anthony Stokes put the icing on the cake for Celtic in the 85th minute when he tried his luck from distance, and for the third time in the match, United keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak was beaten by a deflection.
The result and performance will give the Hoops a boost as they bid to complete a domestic double against Hibernian in the Scottish Cup final next Sunday at Hampden.
Elsewhere, Inverness Caledonian Thistle lost out on an historic first foray into European competition following a 1-0 defeat in the Highland derby against Ross County.
Canadian international Andre Hainault's first half volley was enough to deny Terry Butcher's side third place as goals from Liam Craig and Nigel Hasselbaink saw St Johnstone defeat Motherwell and leapfrog Inverness into the European spots.
At Victoria Park, Paddy McCourt, who is set to be released at the end of the season, was handed a rare start by manager Neil Lennon in what was an otherwise familiar starting line-up.
The Hoops hadn't tasted victory away from Celtic Park since the end of February but they looked determined to put an end to that record from the start with Commons getting Celtic off to a flier.
Jon Daly gave away a free-kick about 30 yards out and Commons drilled a low powerful effort past keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak with the aid of a slight deflection.
Samaras added a second when he found room for a shot which took a big deflection off John Souttar as it looped into the top corner.
The Greek striker had the ball in the net just over a minute later but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Samaras wasn't to be denied though and he got on the end of a Commons free-kick to nod past Cierzniak from four yards out for his second of the match.
Celtic carried on after the break and soon had the ball in the net again when Samaras drilled a left-foot shot to the back post for Hooper to tap in, but the flag was up for offside.
Joe Ledley came close as he bulleted a header towards the top right hand corner from a Commons corner but Cierzniak somehow managed to claw it away.
Celtic keeper Fraser Forster denied Daly and Stuart Armstrong before Stokes finished the scoring as his deflected shot flew into the bottom left-hand corner.