Scottish Premiership
St Johnstone1Celtic2

St Johnstone 1-2 Celtic

  • Premiership leaders Celtic move six points clear
  • Leigh Griffiths scores after 35 seconds
  • Stefan Johansen also on target for Celtic
  • Michael O'Halloran scores first goal against Celtic in 2015

Celtic survived a late scare at St Johnstone to make it eight straight wins in 2015 and establish a six point lead at the top of the Premiership.

With the home defence dozing, Leigh Griffiths raced clear to slot home after just 35 seconds.

Stefan Johansen stretched Celtic's lead with a neat finish on 52 minutes.

But Saints' Michael O'Halloran knocked in a loose ball and Celtic keeper Craig Gordon needed to make an outstanding save to deny Dave Mackay an equaliser.

Mackay looked certain to score as he hammered in a shot from 10 yards following Gordon's stop from a Brian Graham header but the keeper somehow throw up a hand to push the ball over the crossbar.

Ronny Deila' men were hanging on at the end, having dominated for long spells and getting off to a perfect start.

Just as they did at Partick Thistle on Wednesday, Celtic opened the scoring inside the first minute.

Nir Bitton clipped a straight ball through the middle from inside his own half and three defenders in blue were left stranded as Griffths ran in to stroke a first-time finish past advancing goalkeeper Alan Mannus.

Griffiths, who missed the midweek win at Firhill with an ankle injury, was a lively presence as the home side found themselves pinned back.

A Virgil van Dijk header from corner landed at the striker's feet but he could only touch it into the arms of Mannus.

The hosts' best chance of the first half came from a great O'Halloran cross which was headed narrowly wide by Chris Kane, on as an early replacement for the inured Murray Davidson.

Mannus used an outstretched foot to thwart Griffiths, who raced onto a smart pass from Johansen, and the Northern Irish keeper pushed away a fierce rising shot from the same player soon after.

He then produced an excellent flying save to keep out a powerful 25-yard strike from Gary Mackay-Steven that looked destined for the top corner.

Saints worked hard to deny Celtic space after an early battering but their graft could only stem the flow until seven minutes into the second half when Johansen finished off a neat move in style.

Griffiths headed a lofted pass from Stuart Armstrong into the Norwegian's path and the midfielder controlled with his chest before keeping the ball up with his left foot and smashing in a right-foot finish from close range.

St Johnstone pair Brian Easton (left) and Simon Lappin crowd out Gary Mackay-Steven
St Johnstone have now gone five games without a victory

Celtic withdrew Griffiths and Armstrong, perhaps with an eye on Thursday's Europa League meeting with Inter Milan.

And St Johnstone took advantage of a drop in intensity from the visitors to reduce the deficit on 72 minutes.

Tam Scobbie's low cross from the left was stabbed towards goal by a lunging Kane at the near post and Gordon could not gather, with O'Halloran slamming the rebound off the keeper's knee high into the net.

Liam Henderson went close with a shot on the turn from the edge of the penalty box and the Celtic substitute was denied a tap-in by a Brian Easton block.

Gordon should have done better at the St Johnstone goal but atoned with his double save on 88 minutes - stopping Graham's close-range header before making a fabulous reflex save from Mackay's powerful follow-up.

There was still time for a James McFadden free-kick to get round Celtic's defensive wall but Gordon was right behind it to secure victory for his side.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 2Mackay
  • 6Anderson
  • 3Scobbie
  • 24Easton
  • 22CroftBooked at 67minsSubstituted forMcFaddenat 67'minutes
  • 7Millar
  • 18DavidsonSubstituted forKaneat 14'minutes
  • 4Lappin
  • 29O'Halloran
  • 9MacLeanBooked at 51minsSubstituted forGrahamat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Wright
  • 14Graham
  • 15Banks
  • 16Caddis
  • 17McFadden
  • 19Miller
  • 25Kane

Celtic

  • 26Gordon
  • 2Matthews
  • 22DenayerBooked at 89mins
  • 5van Dijk
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 8BrownBooked at 77mins
  • 6Bitton
  • 16Mackay-StevenSubstituted forAmbroseat 82'minutes
  • 14ArmstrongSubstituted forHendersonat 68'minutes
  • 25Johansen
  • 28GriffithsSubstituted forStokesat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Ambrose
  • 9Guidetti
  • 10Stokes
  • 12Scepovic
  • 24Zaluska
  • 42McGregor
  • 53Henderson
Referee:
Kevin Clancy
Attendance:
6,727

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home9
Away19
Shots on Target
Home7
Away8
Corners
Home5
Away9
Fouls
Home8
Away17

Live Text

Match ends, St. Johnstone 1, Celtic 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 1, Celtic 2.

Attempt saved. James McFadden (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Brian Graham (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Celtic).

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Craig Gordon.

Attempt saved. David Mackay (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner.

Attempt saved. Brian Graham (St. Johnstone) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Booking

Jason Denayer (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jason Denayer (Celtic).

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Adam Matthews.

Attempt blocked. Liam Henderson (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Brian Graham (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic).

Foul by Chris Millar (St. Johnstone).

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

Attempt saved. David Mackay (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Efe Ambrose replaces Gary Mackay-Steven.

Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jason Denayer (Celtic).

Attempt missed. Liam Henderson (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nir Bitton (Celtic).

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Adam Matthews.

Booking

Scott Brown (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Brian Graham replaces Steven MacLean.

Foul by Steven Anderson (St. Johnstone).

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

Attempt blocked. Gary Mackay-Steven (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Foul by James McFadden (St. Johnstone).

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

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 1, Celtic 2. Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Tam Scobbie with a cross.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Steven Anderson.

Attempt blocked. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Liam Henderson replaces Stuart Armstrong.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. James McFadden replaces Lee Croft.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic24183348133557
2Aberdeen24163541212051
3Inverness CT25163637231451
4Dundee Utd24143748331545
5Hamilton2612593932741
6Dundee269983838036
7St Johnstone25104112227-534
8Kilmarnock2595112632-632
9Partick Thistle2567123232025
10St Mirren2653182143-2218
11Motherwell2553171849-3118
12Ross County2536162451-2715
View full Scottish Premiership table

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