Celtic clinch SPL crown

Vennegoor of Hesselink secures win over Dundee United

Celtic completed a hat-trick of SPL titles with a 1-0 win at Dundee United as Old Firm rivals Rangers lost at Aberdeen.

Gordon Strachan's side headed into the final game of the season knowing victory at Tannadice was likely to be enough to retain their domestic crown.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink scored the only goal of the night, with the Dutch striker's thumping header sandwiched between two goals for Aberdeen against Rangers.

The Bhoys had been particularly determined to wrap up another title in tribute to club legend Tommy Burns, who passed away last week at the age of 51.

Though Celtic pressed early, the first clear chance fell to United on six minutes when Noel Hunt stole a march on the visiting defence before firing straight at Artur Boruc.

The Pole's compatriot Lukasz Zaluska was soon tested at the opposite end as Shunsuke Nakamura picked out Aiden McGeady unmarked and his shot was superbly tipped over the bar by the United keeper.

Zaluska was quickly called into action again as Nakamura whipped in a cross from the right and former United midfielder Barry Robson saw his near-post header tipped onto the crossbar.

The home side responded on 25 minutes when Willo Flood swung in a deep cross from the right flank, but Daniel Swanson mis-timed his finish at the far post and saw his shot fly over the bar.

Celtic midfielder Paul Hartley picked up on a loose ball on 36 minutes and fired over before United had a chance to take the lead two minutes later.

Flood fed Mark de Vries with a fine pass into the box, but after creating a yard of space, the Dutch striker smashed a wayward shot off target.

With Rangers also going into the break scoreless at Pittodrie, Celtic started the second half in search of a goal which would give them some breathing room.

Just four minutes into the second period, Celtic screamed for a penalty after Nakamura was caught by Daniel Grainger, but the Japanese star's exaggerated reaction only brought a yellow card for diving from referee Stuart Dougal.

United came back into the game and De Vries showed much greater purpose with a burst down the right before cutting into the box and seeing his shot deflect off Stephen McManus into the side-netting.

Celtic keeper Boruc was then almost caught out by Swanson's volley from the angle of the box before Vennegoor of Hesselink flicked the ball goalwards after tangling with Zaluska, only for his attempt to lack sufficient pace to trickle over the line.

Rangers fell behind in their game at Aberdeen on 63 minutes and, in the 72nd minute at Tannadice, Celtic made sure of a third consecutive title.

Hartley curled in a corner from the left and Vennegoor of Hesselink rose powerfully to head past the helpless Zaluska from inside the six-yard box.

The Bhoys were able to coast through the final stages of the game after Rangers conceded a second goal, with Darren Mackie's goal sparking wild celebrations from Celtic fans.