Scottish Premiership
St Johnstone2Celtic4

St Johnstone 2-4 Celtic

Celtic maintained their 100% start to the domestic season after surviving a late St Johnstone comeback in Perth.

The champions scored three goals in 16 minutes before half-time, Leigh Griffiths rifling home a volley before Scott Sinclair tapped in a rebound.

James Forrest's superb run and finish effectively settled matters, but Saints rallied with two late goals.

Danny Swanson converted a penalty before Steven MacLean bundled in, but Ryan Christie sealed it in injury time.

The substitute's smartly taken goal ensured Celtic claimed their second win from two games.

Their focus will now turn to reaching the Champions League group stage, with Brendan Rodgers' side preparing to fly out to Israel for Tuesday's second leg of their play-off against Hapoel Beer Sheva with a 5-2 lead in the tie.

Griffiths 'had no need to dive'

In the opening 25 minutes, Celtic's most productive attacker was not Griffiths or Sinclair or any of their other go-to forwards, it was Kieran Tierney, their young full-back.

He put in two crosses that caused Saints bother, then he won a free-kick that Sinclair fizzed just past a post. His key play was in the build-up to the opening goal, causing the panic down that left side, from which Griffiths sent Celtic on their way.

On his 26th birthday, Griffiths was again terrific. Count his assists during the course of the season and it won't be a millions miles off his goals tally.

There was a negative here, though. He got booked for diving - and rightly so. Does that make him a cheat in Scott Brown's world?

Hearts fans will holler - and they already have - that what Brown said about Jamie Walker he should also be saying about Griffiths. The striker had no need to do it.

Leigh Griffiths goes down in the St Johnstone box, but was booked for diving
Leigh Griffiths went down in the St Johnstone box, but was booked for diving

Celtic 'so dangerous in attack'

There's a far greater speed of thought in Celtic's attack. Their second goal came from a turnover in midfield.

Celtic came alive in those moments and Saints - terribly weakened by the loss of injured defenders - were a confused mess at the back.

Poor Alan Mannus made two fine saves in the midst of this rapid Celtic attack, first from Forrest and then Griffiths. He couldn't make a third. Sinclair put it away.

What a dangerous attack Celtic have now. So much pace and goal-threat when opposing teams lose concentration.

Reborn Forrest back to form

James Forrest scores Celtic's third goal after a mazy run
Forrest's sumptuous finish with the outside of his right foot put Celtic in command

Nowhere is the Rodgers effect more evident than in the return to form of Forrest, who took Griffiths' beautifully cushioned delivery and ran and ran to score the third.

This was the Forrest of old, reborn as a winger with elan and confidence.

At the end of last season he looked to be finished at Celtic. Now he looks a big threat to Patrick Roberts on the right-hand side of Rodgers' midfield.

Celtic's Achilles heel

Credit Saints for the fightback and for shining a light on the big Achilles heel in this Celtic team.

Hapoel scored two swift goals midweek and there were two more here - the 82nd-minute Swanson penalty, after a clumsy challenge from Liam Henderson, and the 89th-minute goal for Maclean after more weakness at the back from Celtic. Unbelievably, they were now hanging on.

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright went for the equaliser, going 3-4-3 at the end, but it backfired when Christie drilled in the fourth.

Saints' mettle is beyond question, as is Celtic's capacity to construct goal mountains.

Post-match reaction:

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright: "There is no doubt Celtic were excellent, particularly first half, but we contributed to that.

"The three goals were all poor goals from our point of view. We gave the ball away cheaply on the halfway line, we don't win the second ball in midfield, something we are brilliant at, and the third goal...we should deal with the problem on the halfway line and we don't.

"That's not taking away anything from Celtic, they were magnificent. We showed character in the second half and were better and if we had maybe a bit more time we might have pulled off an unbelievable result."

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers: "I thought 99.9% of that game we were outstanding. The quality of our football, in particular the first half, was excellent. I don't think the scoreline reflected the game if I am honest.

"We got four goals and we maybe could have got another four, which is a huge compliment to the players because this is a St Johnstone team that has done really well under Tommy Wright."

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 19Foster
  • 14Shaughnessy
  • 15McKaySubstituted forCumminsat 90'minutes
  • 24Easton
  • 18PatonBooked at 45mins
  • 8DavidsonBooked at 58mins
  • 4AlstonSubstituted forCraigat 54'minutes
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forKaneat 65'minutes
  • 11Swanson
  • 9MacLeanBooked at 86mins

Substitutes

  • 12Clark
  • 23Gordon
  • 25Kane
  • 26Craig
  • 29Cummins
  • 32McLaren
  • 39Comrie

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 22JankoBooked at 43mins
  • 2K Touré
  • 34O'Connell
  • 63Tierney
  • 8Brown
  • 6BittonBooked at 59minsSubstituted forHendersonat 60'minutes
  • 49ForrestBooked at 45minsSubstituted forChristieat 71'minutes
  • 18Rogic
  • 11Sinclair
  • 9GriffithsBooked at 38minsSubstituted forDembeleat 55'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Izaguirre
  • 10Dembele
  • 17Christie
  • 28Sviatchenko
  • 38Fasan
  • 42McGregor
  • 53Henderson
Referee:
Craig Thomson
Attendance:
6,823

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home32%
Away68%
Shots
Home7
Away19
Shots on Target
Home5
Away5
Corners
Home1
Away6
Fouls
Home12
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 4.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 4.

Kolo Touré (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 4. Ryan Christie (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Graham Cummins replaces Brad McKay.

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 3. Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Danny Swanson.

Booking

Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

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

Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).

Eoghan O'Connell (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).

Attempt missed. Liam Henderson (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner.

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 1, Celtic 3. Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.

Penalty conceded by Kolo Touré (Celtic) after a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty St. Johnstone. Danny Swanson draws a foul in the penalty area.

Attempt blocked. Kieran Tierney (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Joe Shaughnessy.

Foul by Liam Henderson (Celtic).

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

Attempt missed. Ryan Christie (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Ryan Christie replaces James Forrest.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Joe Shaughnessy.

Attempt blocked. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Liam Craig.

Attempt blocked. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Richard Foster.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Christopher Kane replaces David Wotherspoon.

Attempt blocked. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Foul by Scott Sinclair (Celtic).

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

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Liam Henderson replaces Nir Bitton.

David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

Booking

Nir Bitton (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

Booking

Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Saidy Janko (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).

Eoghan O'Connell (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Rangers32105327
2Celtic22006336
3Ross County32016516
4Aberdeen31202115
5Hearts31116334
6Dundee31115414
7St Johnstone311145-14
8Partick Thistle21013213
9Motherwell310245-13
10Kilmarnock310235-23
11Hamilton302134-12
12Inverness CT3003310-70
View full Scottish Premiership table

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