Scottish Premiership
St Johnstone2Celtic5

St Johnstone 2-5 Celtic

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Highlights: St Johnstone 2-5 Celtic

Substitute Moussa Dembele scored a hat-trick as Celtic came from behind to beat St Johnstone and go 27 points clear at the top of the Premiership.

Liam Henderson's goal for the visitors was cancelled out by Keith Watson's header and David Wotherspoon's effort went in off Celtic's Dedryck Boyata.

Dembele converted a controversial penalty to equalise and then fired the visitors ahead.

And further strikes by Scott Sinclair and Dembele followed.

Brendan Rodgers remains unbeaten by domestic opponents as Celtic manager and his side have now won 19 league games in a row.

St Johnstone trail fourth-placed Hearts by three points but remain 10 ahead of Motherwell.

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Wright critical of ref against Celtic

Sizzling start

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright was determined to snuff out the danger posed by Celtic youngster Kieran Tierney and so pushed Richard Foster into the midfield to keep him company but it was another Celtic youngster who helped the champions draw first blood.

Liam Hendreson, Patrick Roberts and Gary Mackay-Steven all started with real drive and intent for the visitors and after Zander Clark pulled off two good saves from Roberts and Mackay-Steven, Henderson curled the ball beautifully past the Saints number one.

Liam Henderson scores
Henderson (far right) scored his first Celtic goal in over two years

It was just reward for a sizzling start and at that stage the home side were struggling to deal with Celtic's energy in midfield.

But this St Johnstone side, the last to beat the champions way back at the end of last season, rarely buckles and that is down to belief.

Saints fight back

As expected, Celtic were enjoying most of the possession, but after the goal they were wasteful with their chances and the home side started to venture out with the odd probing counter attack and were rewarded from a set play.

Danny Swanson curled in a sumptuous corner from the right and Watson's sheer will took him above the Celtic defence where he bulleted a header past goalkeeper Craig Gordon, with the ball taking a nick of Celtic captain Scott Brown's head.

The champions were rocked but there was worse to come for them before the break as Saints sensed some rare vulnerability.

Again Swanson was the man who provided the inch-perfect cross, this time from the left on the counter attack. His ball found the head of Wotherspoon inside the box and he deftly flicked it backwards where it bounced off Boyata and into the net.

St Johnstone score against Celtic
Boyata had scored the winner in Celtic's last game against St Johnstone

They got the breaks they needed but it was no more than their efforts deserved in the first half.

Spot-kick controversy

Fearing for their unbeaten run, Celtic came out in the second half determined to turn the screw and poured forward in waves. Saints were holding them at bay, though, until a penalty award that infuriated Wright and his St Johnstone players.

Tierney left Foster on the floor with some trickery at the edge of the box but his cross was cut out at close range by Watson, who twisted his body away as he fell, and referee Craig Thompson immediately pointed to the spot for handball.

It looked harsh but despite the protests, Dembele, just on for Mackay-Steven, stepped up and blasted high past Clark to level.

Moussa Dembele scores a penalty
Dembele came on after missing Celtic's last two games

Celtic class

The home side knew they now had a mountain to climb as Celtic sensed the tide turning - and turn it most certainly did.

Top scorer Dembele's low drive from 16 yards after fabulous build-up play put them ahead before Sinclair made it four after good running from Roberts.

With the game won it was showboating time and the fifth was simply sublime.

Mikael Lustig's rabona inside the box found sub Callum McGregor, who had a flick of his own into the path of Dembele and the Frenchman smashed in his hat-trick and 23rd goal of the season.

It was hard to take for the St Johnstone fans who thought for a time that the seemingly impossible might just be possible but it was a thing of beauty to seal Celtic's 29th unbeaten domestic game since the start of the season.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 12Clark
  • 19FosterBooked at 60minsSubstituted forMacLeanat 78'minutes
  • 14Shaughnessy
  • 3Scobbie
  • 24Easton
  • 22Watson
  • 8Davidson
  • 18PatonBooked at 58mins
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forAlstonat 70'minutes
  • 11SwansonSubstituted forCraigat 86'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 29Cummins

Substitutes

  • 1Mannus
  • 4Alston
  • 7Millar
  • 9MacLean
  • 15Smith
  • 26Craig
  • 27Thomson

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 23LustigBooked at 90mins
  • 20Boyata
  • 28Sviatchenko
  • 63Tierney
  • 6Bitton
  • 8Brown
  • 27RobertsSubstituted forCiftciat 86'minutes
  • 53HendersonSubstituted forMcGregorat 72'minutes
  • 16Mackay-StevenSubstituted forDembeleat 59'minutes
  • 11Sinclair

Substitutes

  • 5Simunovic
  • 7Ciftci
  • 10Dembele
  • 12Gamboa
  • 24de Vries
  • 42McGregor
  • 49Forrest
Referee:
Craig Thomson
Attendance:
6,548

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home34%
Away66%
Shots
Home5
Away17
Shots on Target
Home1
Away12
Corners
Home5
Away6
Fouls
Home11
Away9

Live Text

Match ends, St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 5.

Booking

Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Booking

Mikael Lustig (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 5.

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

Attempt missed. Nir Bitton (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.

Foul by Joe Shaughnessy (St. Johnstone).

Scott Sinclair (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Liam Craig replaces Danny Swanson.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Nadir Ciftci replaces Patrick Roberts.

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 5. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Callum McGregor.

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 4. Scott Sinclair (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Patrick Roberts.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Erik Sviatchenko.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Dedryck Boyata.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Steven MacLean replaces Richard Foster.

Graham Cummins (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Dedryck Boyata (Celtic).

Attempt saved. Kieran Tierney (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 3. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Mikael Lustig.

Paul Paton (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Dedryck Boyata (Celtic).

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Callum McGregor replaces Liam Henderson.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Blair Alston replaces David Wotherspoon.

Attempt saved. Nir Bitton (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Hand ball by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Murray Davidson.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Murray Davidson.

Foul by Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone).

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 2, Celtic 2. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top left corner.

Penalty conceded by Richard Foster (St. Johnstone) with a hand ball in the penalty area.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Moussa Dembele replaces Gary Mackay-Steven.

Booking

Paul Paton (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Paul Paton (St. Johnstone).

Nir Bitton (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Scott Brown.

Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Mikael Lustig (Celtic).

Attempt missed. Gary Mackay-Steven (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Joe Shaughnessy.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic24231065164970
2Aberdeen23134640202043
3Rangers2412753226643
4Hearts24107745311437
5St Johnstone249783130134
6Motherwell2366112739-1224
7Ross County2459102742-1524
8Kilmarnock235992038-1824
9Partick Thistle2458112432-823
10Dundee2365122333-1023
11Hamilton2431292535-1021
12Inverness CT2439122845-1718
View full Scottish Premiership table

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