Celtic: Brendan Rodgers says fatigue was evident against St Johnstone

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was pleased with his side's second-half performance

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers admitted his team was suffering the after-effects of their Champions League exertions as they dropped two points against St Johnstone.

Rodgers felt his side toiled in the first half of the 1-1 draw because of the return journey from Kazakhstan after Tuesday's game against Astana.

"We were a bit slow in the first half," Rodgers said.

"It was the travelling having an effect on our energy and speed."

Steven MacLean opened the scoring for the visitors at Celtic Park just before half-time, but substitute Callum McGregor struck late on to extend the home team's run of unbeaten domestic games to 53.

'St Johnstone are a very tough team to play against'

Celtic also hit the woodwork twice, through Scott Sinclair and Mikael Lustig, although MacLean did miss a clear chance to double St Johnstone's lead when he sent a free header straight at Craig Gordon.

The Celtic goalkeeper was culpable for the opening goal, gifting St Johnstone possession inside the area with a poor kick, but Rodgers absolved him of blame.

"The goal is my responsibility," Rodgers said.

"I ask the players to play and take the ball under pressure. Ninety-nine percent of the time they work their way out of the pressure.

"The reaction from half-time was amazing. We brought some energy in with [substitutes] Jonny [Hayes] and Stewart [Armstrong], which gave us impetus. Then we threw even greater risk into the game, changed the shape, and created so many chances.

"In this league, coming back from a Champions League game, St Johnstone are a very tough team to play against. We showed wonderful endeavour in the second half."

Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor and goalkeeper Craig Gordon
Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon, whose error led to St Johnstone's goal, congratulates Celtic scorer Callum McGregor

Rodgers also said he is hopeful of making further signings before the end of the transfer window on Thursday, with Celtic still pursuing the loan signing of Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts.

"We've still some work to do in order to have the squad how I want it," Rodgers said.

"[In the international break], you need to rest and reflect. Then we'll come back and look forward to a real good number of games in the league and Champions League."

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright initially thought his side's opening goal was offside

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright praised his side's defending and the "fitness levels" of his players, and admitted his initial reaction to MacLean's goal was that the player was offside.

"I couldn't see [Anthony] Ralston," Wright said.

"[MacLean also thought he was offside], he told us at half time that he was only messing about putting it in the net, so it was lucky that it went in."

Wright also said that midfielder Murray Davidson, who was stretchered off in the opening minutes after a head clash knocked him out, was expected to leave hospital.

"We think he's getting out now," Wright said.

"He wasn't unconscious for the full six minutes, he regained consciousness when he left the pitch. He's got a sore head and he's lost one or two teeth. It's an unfortunate incident.

"We're just pleased that the medical team did very well to get him sorted and off the pitch."

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