IT was a day, in the end, for Celtic to remember. With the touching pre-match tribute to the late Wim Jansen, they warmly remembered a manager who brought them glory in the past. With their late, late win over Dundee United – coupled with Rangers dropping points at Ross County – it may also be a day that will be remembered as a pivotal one as they look to bring the league title back to Celtic Park once more.

For the longest time, it looked as though Celtic would miss the opportunity to cut the gap to Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership to just two points ahead of the meeting between the Glasgow giants on Wednesday night, a game which now takes on even further mouth-watering allure.

They came up against a well-drilled and competitive Dundee United side, who had already taken a point from Celtic Park this season, but their struggles here were chiefly of their own making.

Giorgos Giakoumakis was the chief offender, squandering numerous opportunities to score. The striker couldn’t be faulted for effort, but he was out of sorts after his recent upturn in form and fortunes.

Celtic also ended the game with 10 men, Nir Bitton being dismissed by referee Euan Anderson – who was hardly the toast of Celtic Park prior to sending the midfielder packing – after picking up a second booking with 10 minutes remaining. In fairness to the official, you couldn’t really argue with either call.

Celtic continued to huff and puff but just couldn’t knock the United door down. Then, a minute into stoppage time, Jota clipped the ball into the area, the United defence momentarily switched off, and Liel Abada was the coolest man in the ground as he took a touch and crashed the ball high into the United net.

He wasn’t cool for long. The scenes of utter jubilation from players and fans told you exactly how significant a moment this was, and could eventually be come the end of the season. What Celtic had lacked in guile, the made up for in guts, and that hunger may prove critical.

There was another link to Celtic’s past with former manager Brendan Rodgers in the crowd as an interested spectator. What he witnessed might not have been the sort of free-flowing attacking football associated with both him and the man now in his old seat, but he would have seen the same sort of adulation pouring down towards Ange Postecoglou at the end that he once enjoyed around these parts.

Postecoglou had decided to rotate his side, perhaps with an eye on that clash with Rangers on Wednesday night, and just about got away with it. There was no doubt though that it was the introduction of the rested Jota from the bench that eventually made the difference.

The full-backs had also been swapped out, with Anthony Ralston and Liam Scales in for Josip Juranovic and Greg Taylor, but the latter two would also be on before the end as Postecoglou tore up what could be considered Plan B and reverted to Plan A.

United were carrying a threat on the counter early on that lingered for most of the afternoon, and after some hesitation in the home defence, Adrian Sporle cracked a fizzing effort just wide of the far post from the left side of the box.

There was hesitation at the other end from Celtic too, as the misfiring Giakoumakis got in behind the United defence but waited an age for the ball to come down, allowing Callum Butcher to get back and nick the ball off his toe with a last-gasp sliding challenge.

Celtic were needing a spark, and Abada almost gave them it as he danced into the area following a crunching Anthony Ralston challenge and brought out the first save from Benjamin Siegrist, the keeper getting a strong right hand out to repel his effort.

Siegrist had to be brave to then deny Giakoumakis at the front post as the latched onto Abada’s low cross and attempted to repeat his trick from Tynecastle on Wednesday night, the ball spinning up off the United number one and landing just the wrong side of the post from a Celtic perspective.

Matt O’Riley was looking impressive yet again for Celtic, but the midfielder passed up the best opportunity of the half as James Forrest put the ball on a plate for him as he arrived in the area, but from 12 yards he placed his shot just wide of the left-hand post.

There was something missing from the Celtic performance though as we approached the interval, and their manager recognised it, going to the bench at the break to replace Scales with Juranovic and Forrest – who was ineffective playing off the left - with Jota.

Straight away, the Portuguese winger fashioned an opportunity with an in-swinging cross that was glanced at goal by the head of O’Riley, Siegrist doing well again to palm away to safety.

Quite how Celtic didn’t take the lead when Jota then teed up Giakoumakis inside the area, only Siegrist himself knows. It looked like the Celtic forward couldn’t miss, and the whole stadium waited for the net to bulge as he placed his effort from eight yards back across the keeper, but Siegrist stuck up a trailing leg and the ball found it, squirming up and over the bar.

There was a moment to remember for young Ben Doak as he came on along with Taylor to offer some renewed energy to the Celtic side, but United stood firm, and their cause appeared to be aided when Bitton was forced to take one for the team after Taylor was caught on the ball on the edge of his own box.

The Israeli hauled down Marc McNulty, and having earlier picked up a caution for cynically halting a United counter with a foul on Ilmari Niskanen, there was only going to be one outcome.

From there, it appeared a goalless draw was the only outcome for the match, but as the clock ticked over the 90 minute mark, Jota conjured up the cross that eventually saw the visiting defence buckle.

Abada controlled, steadied himself, and blew the roof off Celtic Park. He may just have blown the roof off the title race too.