Match ends, Celtic 3, St Johnstone 0.
Celtic 3-0 St Johnstone
A hat-trick of fine finishes from Anthony Stokes gave Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic a comfortable victory over St Johnstone.
The striker fired home from outside the penalty area to give Neil Lennon's side the lead following a pass from Leigh Griffiths.
Captain Scott Brown's inventive chip was the catalyst for Stokes' second, the 25-year-old volleying into the net.
And a low drive completed an impressive day's work for Stokes and his team.
Kris Commons and Brown both hit the post in what was a dominant display from Lennon's men, who remain unbeaten in the league and re-establish a 21-point lead.
However, the visit of Saints came off the back of a Scottish Cup defeat by Aberdeen while the Perth side had been buoyed by their progress to that tournament's quarter-finals.
Indeed Saints enjoyed a positive opening spell and it was not until Griffiths headed wide from an offside position that Celtic began to impose themselves.
Griffiths was making his first start since joining from Wolves and played his part in the opening goal, laying on for Stokes to work the space and release a shot past Alan Mannus from 20 yards.
Commons was also in the mood for a goal and his superb 30-yard strike rattled the post.
Saints were restricted to long-range efforts as they toiled at the start of the second half with neither David Wotherspoon nor Brian Easton able to trouble Fraser Forster, who has not conceded a league goal since November.
Stokes may have been awarded a penalty following a challenge by Steven Anderson right on the edge of the box but referee Steven McLean awarded a free-kick that the striker fired off target.
However, he did not have to wait long for his second goal with Brown dinking the ball across the six-yard line for Stokes to control and blast home on the turn.
And Stokes netted again by beating Mannus at his near post from near the 18-yard line.
There was little respite for St Johnstone and Brown's low shot at the end of a driving run fizzed along the turf and came back off the post.
Forster then used his foot to secure a record-equalling clean sheet and spared the blushes of a team-mate in the process.
The goalkeeper, who matches former Aberdeen stopper Bobby Clark's run of 12 league shut-outs, blocked after Efe Ambrose had turned Nigel Hasselbaink's low cross towards goal.
With time running down, Griffiths found the net with a clipped shot past Mannus but the offside flag ensured a further wait for the Scotland international's first Celtic goal.
- 3IzaguirreSubstituted forFisherat 21'minutes
- 5van Dijk
- 8BrownSubstituted forBoerrigterat 72'minutes
- 10StokesSubstituted forPukkiat 89'minutes
- 7MillarSubstituted forHasselbainkat 61'minutes
- 22CroftSubstituted forO'Halloranat 67'minutes
- 12DunneSubstituted forCreggat 78'minutesBooked at 82mins
- Steven McLean
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Celtic 3, St Johnstone 0.
Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Darnell Fisher.
Substitution, Celtic. Teemu Pukki replaces Anthony Stokes.
Attempt missed. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Attempt saved. Darnell Fisher (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.
Stefan Johansen (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone).
Attempt missed. Nir Biton (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.
Substitution, St Johnstone. Patrick Cregg replaces James Dunne.
Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Gary McDonald (St Johnstone).
Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).
Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Derk Boerrigter (Celtic) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left misses to the right.
Foul by Efe Ambrose (Celtic).
Michael O'Halloran (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.