Scottish Premiership
St JohnstoneSt Johnstone0CelticCeltic3

St Johnstone 0-3 Celtic

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at McDiarmid Park
Ciftci took his tally to four goals for the season
Ciftci took his tally to four goals for the season

Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Premiership to four points with victory against St Johnstone in Perth.

Nadir Ciftci and Dedryck Boyata scored from close range either side of the half-time break to put the visitors into a commanding lead.

In-form Saints came painfully close to pulling one back when Brian Easton's shot from distance hit a post.

Ciftci headed his second just after the hour to secure a seventh win in eight league matches for the champions.

Aberdeen, who beat Hearts 1-0 on Saturday, are second in the table, having played one game more than Celtic.

On the face it, a 3-0 win looked a rout for Celtic, but that would be to do Saints a small injustice. They did much to add to what was a good contest for a chunk of the afternoon.

As early as the first minute they had a wonderful opportunity to open the scoring when Stefan Johansen lost the ball and Steven Maclean put Michael O'Halloran through on Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal.

Boyata headed Celtic 2-0 in front
Boyata headed Celtic 2-0 in front

The attacker's shot was indecisive and Gordon managed to turn it away for a corner.

Gordon's saves - and St Johnstone's profligacy - would become one of the themes of the day.

In those early minutes, the hosts had a bite about them that troubled Celtic. They hustled and harried. Celtic did not get into the pitch of it until midway through the half. When they did, it was Tom Rogic, more than anybody else, who got them there.

Rogic was impressive throughout. He put Ciftci in for a fine chance just before the half-hour but the Turk's shot was saved by Alan Mannus.

Credit to Ciftci - when another chance came his way, he buried it. Callum McGregor's corner fell kindly to him. He controlled the ball on his thigh and then thumped it home from inside the six-yard box.

And there was another theme - Saints' vulnerability so close to their own goal. Boyata could have scored from a corner soon after.

Saints are dogged competitors. Sure, they succumbed to Celtic's quality later on, but they had chances before the goals arrived.

Murray Davidson and David Wotherspoon forced saves from Gordon just before the break and O'Halloran curled one narrowly wide directly after.

Even after Boyata thundered home a header from McGregor's corner to make it 2-0, there were signs of life. Easton's lusty hit from distance came off Gordon's left-hand post.

Celtic closed it out from there. And they were excellent. Rogic had a chance, then Ciftci scored his second after a precise cross from Mikael Lustig.

It was fine tribute to Ronny Deila's team that once more they responded to European disappointment with domestic dominance.

Ciftci celebrates scoring his second and Celtic's third
Ciftci celebrates scoring his second and Celtic's third

This was the 10th match in a row where Celtic have won, having played in Europe earlier in the week.

They were clinical and professional against a team that had been flying - nine wins in 11 games in all competitions - before this swatting by the champions.

The fact that the previously beleaguered Ciftci doubled his Celtic tally - from two to four - was an extra plus on a pleasing day for the visitors.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 14Shaughnessy
  • 2MackayBooked at 45mins
  • 6Anderson
  • 24Easton
  • 10WotherspoonBooked at 63mins
  • 7MillarSubstituted forCaddisat 34'minutes
  • 8Davidson
  • 26Craig
  • 29O'Halloran
  • 9MacLeanBooked at 45minsSubstituted forKaneat 81'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Scobbie
  • 11Sutton
  • 12Clark
  • 15McKay
  • 16Caddis
  • 25Kane
  • 27Thomson

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 23Lustig
  • 20Boyata
  • 5Simunovic
  • 3IzaguirreBooked at 23mins
  • 25JohansenBooked at 59mins
  • 18RogicSubstituted forColeat 81'minutes
  • 49Forrest
  • 14ArmstrongSubstituted forCommonsat 72'minutes
  • 42McGregor
  • 7CiftciSubstituted forAllanat 89'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Ambrose
  • 15Commons
  • 16Mackay-Steven
  • 19Allan
  • 24Cole
  • 26Bailly
  • 63Tierney
Referee:
Crawford Allan
Attendance:
6,418

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home38%
Away62%
Shots
Home10
Away9
Shots on Target
Home4
Away6
Corners
Home3
Away8
Fouls
Home7
Away15

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

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

  4. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Carlton Cole (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Scott Allan replaces Nadir Ciftci.

  6. Post update

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

  7. Post update

    Foul by Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic).

  8. Post update

    Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).

  9. Post update

    James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).

  11. Post update

    Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Carlton Cole replaces Tomas Rogic.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, St. Johnstone. Christopher Kane replaces Steven MacLean.

  14. Post update

    Liam Caddis (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  15. Post update

    Foul by James Forrest (Celtic).

  16. Post update

    Liam Caddis (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Kris Commons (Celtic).

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Kris Commons replaces Stuart Armstrong.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

  20. Goal!

    Goal! St. Johnstone 0, Celtic 3. Nadir Ciftci (Celtic) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mikael Lustig with a cross.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic17133144123242
2Aberdeen18122428181038
3Hearts1794429181131
4St Johnstone189363529630
5Ross County187382826224
6Hamilton176472225-322
7Inverness CT175571923-420
8Partick Thistle175571823-520
9Dundee184862330-720
10Motherwell175391624-818
11Kilmarnock184591932-1317
12Dundee Utd1823131334-219
View full Scottish Premiership table

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