Virgil van Dijk's impressive early goal was enough to defeat St Johnstone and move Celtic 11 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

The Dutch defender beat several St Johnstone players on his way to firing Neil Lennon's side ahead.

Anthony Stokes had a shot blocked as the visitors dominated the first half.

Saints improved after the interval and Gwion Edwards tested goalkeeper Fraser Forster with a powerful shot from inside the penalty area.

But the Perth side could not find a leveller and points dropped by Aberdeen, Dundee United and Inverness allowed Celtic to stretch their advantage.

Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring for Celtic against St Johnstone

Van Dijk celebrates his winning goal

The hosts tried to break quickly using the pace of Stevie May in the first few minutes but it was his marker who opened the scoring.

Van Dijk collected the ball on the halfway line, waltzed past a handful of players as he dribbled forward and drilled a low shot past goalkeeper Alan Mannus.

The net bulged again when Stokes converted Scott Brown's low cross but the offside flag had been raised against the latter, although television replays suggested the Celtic captain may have been onside.

Celtic continued to exert control and Stokes latched on to a long ball and got past the advancing Mannus only to have his shot blocked as St Johnstone players tried frantically to get back.

And van Dijk threatened a second when he headed wide from a corner.

St Johnstone knew they had to improve in the second half and Tommy Wright sent on winger Edwards in place of defender Gary Miller.

May went down in the box as he tussled with van Dijk but referee Craig Thomson was unmoved by the forward's penalty appeal.

A nice turn and pass by Nigel Hasselbaink created a shooting opportunity for Brian Easton on the left angle of the box but van Dijk got across to block.

Edwards was next to have a run at the Celtic defence and, after speeding down the left and cutting inside, his fierce drive had to be dealt with by Forster.

Celtic's play was lacking the fluency so apparent in the first half but Kris Commons almost doubled their lead with an excellent snapshot that Mannus kept out with an equally impressive save.

And there was to be no further scoring as the visitors saw out victory.

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (6)

St Johnstone

  • 01 Mannus
  • 02 Mackay
  • 24 Easton
  • 19 Miller (Edwards - 45' )
  • 25 Jahic
  • 05 Wright Booked
  • 10 Wotherspoon Booked (Croft - 74' )
  • 08 McDonald
  • 17 May
  • 18 Davidson Booked
  • 11 Hasselbaink (Kane - 81' )

Substitutes

  • 03 Scobbie
  • 04 Cregg
  • 06 Anderson
  • 14 Edwards
  • 15 Banks
  • 22 Croft
  • 41 Kane

Celtic

  • 01 Forster
  • 41 Fisher Booked
  • 03 Izaguirre
  • 08 Brown
  • 04 Ambrose
  • 05 van Dijk
  • 02 Matthews (Forrest - 55' )
  • 16 Ledley
  • 10 Stokes
  • 15 Commons (Baldé - 87' )
  • 09 Samaras (Biton - 70' )

Substitutes

  • 06 Biton
  • 17 Baldé
  • 20 Pukki
  • 24 Zaluska
  • 37 Atajic
  • 49 Forrest
  • 53 Henderson
Ref: Craig Thomson
Att: 7,034

Match Stats

Shots

3 15

On target

1 5

Corners

5 12

Fouls

19 4

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, St Johnstone 0, Celtic 1.

90:00 +4:03 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, St Johnstone 0, Celtic 1.

90:00 +3:16

Foul by Amido Baldé (Celtic).

90:00 +3:16

Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +2:35

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +2:35

Foul by Gary McDonald (St Johnstone).

90:00 +0:35

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +0:35

Foul by Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone).

86:38 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Amido Baldé replaces Kris Commons.

86:00

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

85:54

Foul by Christopher Kane (St Johnstone).

83:45

Attempt missed. Efe Ambrose (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

83:31

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Brian Easton.

82:06

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

80:18 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Christopher Kane replaces Nigel Hasselbaink.

79:21

Joe Ledley (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

79:21

Foul by David Mackay (St Johnstone).

78:54

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Alan Mannus.

78:37

Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

77:20

Anthony Stokes (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

77:20

Foul by Gary McDonald (St Johnstone).

76:46

Attempt saved. Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is saved in the top centre of the goal.

75:14 Booking

Booking Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

75:05

Nir Biton (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

75:05

Foul by Murray Davidson (St Johnstone).

73:32 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Lee Croft replaces David Wotherspoon.

72:55

Attempt blocked. James Forrest (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

72:30

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Wotherspoon.

70:57

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Sanel Jahic.

69:39 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Nir Biton replaces Georgios Samaras.

66:17

Anthony Stokes (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

66:17

Foul by Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone).

65:30 Booking

Booking Darnell Fisher (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

65:23

Foul by Darnell Fisher (Celtic).

65:23

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

62:05

Attempt missed. Darnell Fisher (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

61:00

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

61:00

Foul by Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone).

59:46

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Virgil van Dijk.

59:25

Attempt blocked. Brian Easton (St Johnstone) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

58:27 Booking

Booking Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

58:22

Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

58:22

Foul by Frazer Wright (St Johnstone).

57:37

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Joe Ledley.

54:01 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. James Forrest replaces Adam Matthews.

49:52

Attempt missed. Adam Matthews (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

49:16

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Brian Easton.

48:18

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

48:18

Foul by Gary McDonald (St Johnstone).

45:00

Second Half begins St Johnstone 0, Celtic 1.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Gwion Edwards replaces Gary Miller.

45:00 +1:02 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, St Johnstone 0, Celtic 1.

45:00 +0:42

Joe Ledley (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

45:00 +0:42

Foul by Murray Davidson (St Johnstone).

44:43

Attempt missed. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) header from the centre of the box misses to the right.

44:25

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Alan Mannus.

44:02

Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

41:38 Booking

Booking David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

41:32

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

41:32

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).

40:37

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

40:37

Foul by Gary McDonald (St Johnstone).

35:47

Attempt missed. Joe Ledley (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

35:34

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

35:08

Attempt blocked. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

33:50

Attempt blocked. Gary Miller (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

33:13

Attempt missed. Scott Brown (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

30:26

Attempt saved. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

29:15

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

27:00

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

27:00

Foul by Gary Miller (St Johnstone).

22:57

Attempt missed. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

22:00

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

21:53

Foul by Brian Easton (St Johnstone).

21:21

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Frazer Wright.

20:56

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

19:33

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Sanel Jahic.

17:38

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Efe Ambrose.

13:00

Hand ball by Joe Ledley (Celtic).

11:01

Attempt saved. Scott Brown (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

10:18

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

10:18

Foul by Murray Davidson (St Johnstone).

9:44

Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

9:44

Foul by Gary Miller (St Johnstone).

9:11

Foul by Georgios Samaras (Celtic).

9:11

Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

8:43

Joe Ledley (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

8:43

Foul by Gary Miller (St Johnstone).

7:57

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Fraser Forster.

4:48 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! St Johnstone 0, Celtic 1. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

3:17

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Virgil van Dijk.

2:21

Attempt missed. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

1:27

Hand ball by Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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