Scottish Premiership
St Johnstone0Celtic1

St Johnstone 0-1 Celtic

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.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon

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Interview - Celtic manager Neil Lennon

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.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 2Mackay
  • 24B Easton
  • 19MillerSubstituted forEdwardsat 45'minutes
  • 25Jahic
  • 5WrightBooked at 59mins
  • 10WotherspoonBooked at 42minsSubstituted forCroftat 74'minutes
  • 8McDonald
  • 17May
  • 18DavidsonBooked at 76mins
  • 11HasselbainkSubstituted forKaneat 81'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Scobbie
  • 4Cregg
  • 6Anderson
  • 14Edwards
  • 15Banks
  • 22Croft
  • 41Kane

Celtic

  • 1Forster
  • 41FisherBooked at 66mins
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 8Brown
  • 4Ambrose
  • 5van Dijk
  • 2MatthewsSubstituted forForrestat 55'minutes
  • 16Ledley
  • 10Stokes
  • 15CommonsSubstituted forBaldéat 87'minutes
  • 9SamarasSubstituted forBitonat 70'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Biton
  • 17Baldé
  • 20Pukki
  • 24Zaluska
  • 37Atajic
  • 49Forrest
  • 53Henderson
Referee:
Craig Thomson
Attendance:
7,034

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home36%
Away64%
Shots
Home3
Away15
Shots on Target
Home1
Away5
Corners
Home5
Away12
Fouls
Home19
Away4

Live Text

Match ends, St Johnstone 0, Celtic 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St Johnstone 0, Celtic 1.

Foul by Amido Baldé (Celtic).

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

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

Foul by Gary McDonald (St Johnstone).

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

Foul by Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone).

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Amido Baldé replaces Kris Commons.

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

Foul by Christopher Kane (St Johnstone).

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

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Brian Easton.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

Substitution

Substitution, St Johnstone. Christopher Kane replaces Nigel Hasselbaink.

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

Foul by David Mackay (St Johnstone).

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Alan Mannus.

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

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

Foul by Gary McDonald (St Johnstone).

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.

Booking

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

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

Foul by Murray Davidson (St Johnstone).

Substitution

Substitution, St Johnstone. Lee Croft replaces David Wotherspoon.

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

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Wotherspoon.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Sanel Jahic.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Nir Biton replaces Georgios Samaras.

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

Foul by Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone).

Booking

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Darnell Fisher (Celtic).

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

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

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

Foul by Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone).

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Virgil van Dijk.

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

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLGDPts
1Celtic1714302745
2Motherwell181116-234
3Inverness CT1710341133
4Dundee Utd189541932
5Aberdeen1810261032
6St Johnstone17647422
7Hibernian18567-421
8St Mirren17548-919
9Kilmarnock185310-618
10Partick Thistle17368-1315
11Ross County173212-1711
12Hearts183312-20-3
View full Scottish Premiership table

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