St Mirren 0-2 Celtic

Celtic enjoyed their first win in four outings thanks to a Gary Hooper double at St Mirren Park.

The striker opened the scoring in Paisley in the sixth minute after being set up by strike partner Anthony Stokes.

Six minutes later a mistake by former Celtic player Paul McGowan allowed Hooper to slip a second past St Mirren goalkeeper Craig Samson.

The result moves Celtic to within a point of Rangers and Motherwell.

Manager Neil Lennon made two changes to the side who were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday, with Stokes and midfielder James Forrest replacing Joe Ledley and Georgios Samaras, who dropped to the bench.

And Stokes appeared to have opened the scoring when he hit the back of the net in the early stages, but referee William Collum judged him to have fouled Saints defender Marc McAusland beforehand.

Celtic's breakthrough came just seconds later when Stokes and Hooper worked a one-two at the edge of the box to allow Hooper to drill the ball past Samson.

And things were to get worse for the St Mirren defence when a catalogue of mistakes in the 12th minute, culminating in McGowan passing straight to Hooper's feet, allowed the Englishman to run through and slip the ball into the St Mirren net.

Gary Hooper
Hooper's brace gave Celtic their first win in four matches

But after a poor start, the Paisley side began to show flashes of the brand of football manager Danny Lennon has established in the early part of the season.

And McGowan had the chance to make amends soon after his error when Nigel Hasselbaink provided a fine pass, but his effort from 16 yards was saved by Forster.

Hasselbaink continued to cause problems for Celtic defender Daniel Majstorovic, with Dutchman Jeroen Tesselaar also threatening to create an opening for the home side as St Mirren increased the pressure towards the end of the first half.

After the restart, it was Stokes who again looked dangerous, going on a solo run and sending in a low drive to force a terrific save from Samson.

But there were chances for St Mirren too, Tesselaar whipping a free kick round Celtic's wall in the 55th minute; Forster forced to make a scrambling save by his near post.

The impressive Tesselaar also did his share at the other end of the park, denying Scott Brown a close-range chance seconds later.

Celtic's Kelvin Wilson looked more jittery in front of goal and endured a heart-stopping moment as he sent a defensive header just inches past his own goal in the 66th minute.

That fell at the end of a period of sustained pressure for St Mirren, who but for a poor start may have expected more from the game.

But in the later stages it was Celtic who looked more likely to add to their advantage, the removal of Gary Teale in the 71st minute restricting St Mirren's creativity in midfield.

Ki Seung-Yeung came close in the 78th minute when he found himself one-on-one with Samson inside the box, his low shot blocked by the St Mirren keeper's legs.

Forrest also came close with two minutes remaining when he was played in by Charlie Mulgrew but the winger was denied by Samson who delivered another great save at his near post.

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