MICKY Mellon admitted tonight that Dundee United had paid the price for their lack of belief up front in their 3-0 Premiership defeat to Celtic at Parkhead.

Mellon was unhappy that United failed to trouble their hosts’ defence in the first-half and then passed up two excellent scoring opportunities in the second when they were trailing 2-0. 

The Scot also felt that referee Willie Collum should have awarded the visitors a penalty before half-time when centre half Christopher Jullien appeared to handle a Diego Laxalt clearance inside his own area.

“I was disappointed about the belief in the first half,” he said. “That surprised me. I think we could have shown more.

“The ball was getting into the final third, but we didn’t have people laying a glove on people. You have to be able to do that at places like Celtic. When we got possession back we also had to be better with the ball.

Mellon added: “We came out in the second half and showed a wee bit more and created two fantastic chances for Nicky Clark and Marc McNulty.

“If you are going to get anything from a place like Celtic Park you have to take them.

“You have to have a winning instinct to come here and do well, then believe you can do better.

“We should aim, when we come to places like this, to be more of a problem for teams like Celtic.”

Asked about the penalty claim that Collum dismissed, Mellon said: “My gut instinct right away was that it was a handball. You saw the reaction of all the players at the same time. They believed the same as me. I was certainly surprised it never went our way.”