Scottish Premiership
St JohnstoneSt Johnstone0CelticCeltic3

St Johnstone 0-3 Celtic

By Cheri BurnsBBC Scotland

Celtic got their Scottish Premiership title defence off to a winning start with victory over St Johnstone.

Anthony Stokes opened the scoring with an assured finish from a tight angle after a defensive error by Steven Anderson.

And, a penalty from Nir Biton and strike by Callum McGregor were enough to ensure they took all three points.

St Johnstone felt aggrieved when Dave Mackay was not awarded a penalty, with the captain later sent off in the incident that led to Biton's spot-kick.

Mackay went down after a challenge by Virgil van Dijk in the box when the score was 1-0.

And, later, the right-back was dismissed for a challenge on Derk Boerrigter, though replays suggested there had been little contact.

The result means Ronny Deila's men look to Saturday's visit of early league leaders Dundee United with renewed vigour as they aim to stamp their authority on the division from the outset.

After a far from ideal introduction to his new club, courtesy of the ongoing controversy surrounding their Champions League tie against Legia Warsaw and the below-par performances that preceded the off-the-field drama, the man in the visiting dugout needed nothing less than a victory in his first domestic outing.

With players such as Fraser Forster having exited during the summer, the onus was on this crop - which included the England international's replacement, Craig Gordon - to produce the type of performance that would instil confidence in the new regime.

Dave Mackay shown straight red by John Beaton
Mackay was dismissed after Boerrigter fell in the penalty area

They started brightly, with Emilio Izaguirre and Kris Commons - making his 100th appearance - looking lively.

And could have taken the lead when neat play from Commons allowed James Forrest to find space, but he could only drag his shot wide.

The Perth men - who took to the pitch on the back of an opening day win against Ross County - were largely penned in during the opening exchanges and struggled to make an impression.

That was until they came close, against the run of play, when Steven MacLean hammered in a shot from the edge of the box that stung the palms of Gordon.

Stokes had Celtic's best chance of the first half when his free-kick went narrowly wide.

After the break, St Johnstone's Michael O'Halloran fired an effort that cannoned off team-mate MacLean and went inches past Gordon's right-hand post.

Having kept their opponents at bay for so long, the hosts caused their own undoing when Anderson dwelt on the ball and Commons was able to send Stokes through.

The striker then rounded Alan Mannus and rolled the ball into the net.

Saints did not let their heads go down, and Mackay ventured into the Celtic area, only to be closed down by Van Dijk. However, referee John Beaton allowed play to go on after the home fans shouted for a foul.

And Mackay's night went from bad to worse when he was adjudged to have tripped substitute Boerrigter and was dismissed by Beaton.

Biton converted the resulting penalty confidently to double the visitors' lead.

Dutchman Boerrigter, who had earlier threatened with a venomous free-kick that looked destined for the target but for a solid Mannus save, was causing problems with his pace and the stretched home backline lost a third late on.

After a flowing move, McGregor added to the tally with a fizzing shot that squirmed under Mannus and rolled over the line.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

Formation 4-5-1

  • 1Mannus
  • 2MackayBooked at 75mins
  • 24Easton
  • 7Millar
  • 6Anderson
  • 3Scobbie
  • 22Croft
  • 16CaddisSubstituted forWotherspoonat 45'minutesBooked at 69mins
  • 9MacLean
  • 8McDonaldSubstituted forMillerat 78'minutes
  • 29O'HalloranSubstituted forMorganat 60'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Wright
  • 10Wotherspoon
  • 11Morgan
  • 15Banks
  • 19Miller
  • 20Brown
  • 25Kane

Celtic

Formation 4-4-2

  • 26Gordon
  • 2Matthews
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 6Biton
  • 23Lustig
  • 5van Dijk
  • 49ForrestSubstituted forBoerrigterat 58'minutes
  • 15CommonsSubstituted forBergetat 66'minutes
  • 25JohansenBooked at 51mins
  • 10StokesSubstituted forKayalat 73'minutes
  • 42McGregor

Substitutes

  • 4Ambrose
  • 11Boerrigter
  • 16Berget
  • 20Pukki
  • 22Denayer
  • 24Zaluska
  • 33Kayal
Referee:
John Beaton
Attendance:
6,890

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home6
Away16
Shots on Target
Home1
Away8
Corners
Home3
Away6
Fouls
Home12
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, St. Johnstone 0, Celtic 3.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 0, Celtic 3.

  3. Post update

    Attempt saved. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) header from very close range is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Steven Anderson.

  5. Post update

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

  6. Post update

    Foul by Jo Inge Berget (Celtic).

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Derk Boerrigter (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Alan Mannus.

  9. Post update

    Attempt saved. Callum McGregor (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Chris Millar (St. Johnstone).

  11. Post update

    Stefan Johansen (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Gary Miller.

  13. Goal!

    Goal! St. Johnstone 0, Celtic 3. Callum McGregor (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Adam Matthews.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Callum McGregor (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

  15. Post update

    Steven Anderson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Celtic).

  17. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Brian Easton.

  18. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Tam Scobbie.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, St. Johnstone. Gary Miller replaces Gary McDonald.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jo Inge Berget (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.