St Johnstone 1-4 Celtic: Hoops go nine points clear of Rangers

St Johnstone 1-4 Celtic: Ange Postecoglou’s side move nine points clear of closest Scottish Premiership rivals Rangers with comfortable win

  • Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table on Sunday 
  • Ange Postecoglou’s side confidently beat St Johnstone 4-1 at McDiarmid Park
  • Kyogo, Mooy and Turnbull scored for the Hoops after a Considine own goal

Ange Postecoglou is adamant that he won’t set points targets for his Celtic players this season in case it distracts them from the job at hand.

Heaven help the rest of the league if the Australian belatedly decides that such a ploy is needed in order for his squad to find something extra.

It seems there’s just no stopping them at this moment in time. Whatever questions Rangers are asking of them by taking care of their business, the answers Postecoglou’s men are providing continue to be resounding.

With just 13 games of the league campaign to go, it’s getting increasingly harder to see where exactly the banana skins are going to come from.

This latest assignment was ticked off with considerable ease. Having dropped just five points in their campaign to date, Celtic remain on course to accrue more points than the 106 Brendan Rodgers’ Invincibles managed in 2016-17. 

Celtic thrashed St Johnstone 4-1 on Sunday to extend their lead at the top of the league table

Saints defender Andrew Considine (second left) scored an early own goal to make it 1-0

Forward Kyogo Furuhashi then doubled the advantage for the Hoops at McDiarmid Park

Aaron Mooy made it 3-1 shortly before half-time, after Drey Wright struck to pull one back

Their consistently is simply remarkable and will surely see a second successive title confirmed in due course.

They again made light work of the task they faced in Perth. Andrew Considine’s own goal came after a promising start by St Johnstone but Kyogo Furuhashi’s second soon after gave Callum Davidson’s men a mountain to climb.

Drey Wright made a game of it with a swerving strike but an excellent finish by Aaron Mooy quickly restored Celtic’s two-goal advantage before the break.

Match Facts: St Johnstone 1-4 Celtic at McDiarmid Park

St Johnstone (4-2-3-1): Matthews; Brown, Mitchell, Considine, Gallacher; MacPherson, Phillips (Hallberg 79); Wright (Wotherspoon 69), Carey (Bair 84), McLennan (Murphy 84); May (Rudden 79).

Substitutes not used: Sinclair; Gordon, O’Halloran, Crawford.

Goals: Wright 25.

Yellow cards: McLennan 78, Brown 89.

Red cards: Considine 90+1. 

Manager: Callum Davidson.

Celtic (4-3-3): Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; Mooy (Turnbull 79), McGregor, Hatate (O’Riley 69); Jota (Haksabanovic 87), Furuhashi (Oh 79), Maeda (Abada 69). 

Substitutes not used: Bain; Kobayashi, Iwata, Forrest. 

Goals: Considine (OG) 13, Furuhashi 22, Mooy 38, Turnbull 90+3.

Yellow cards: Jota 41, Taylor 72. 

Manager: Ange Postecoglou.

Referee: David Dickinson (Scotland).

Although it took until injury time at the end of the second half for David Turnbull to claim the fourth, Postecoglou’s side were in complete control of the game. There was never much danger of Saints preventing their winless run against the Glasgow side extending to 26 matches and across almost seven years.

You had to tip your hat to the way Postecoglou’s side went about their business on a bumpy surface that could have proven extremely problematic. They didn’t compromise on their passing game in the slightest. Once they got into their stride, they truly could have had any number of goals.

Furuhashi has rightly been lauded for his handsome goal return to date but he is so much more than a penalty-box predator.

It was the Japanese that instigated the move that handed Celtic the lead inside 13 minutes. Dropping into his own half to receive the ball, a neat swivel preceded a sumptuous 30-yard diagonal which Daizen Maeda took in his stride on the right touchline.

Maeda ate up the ground and fed Mooy. The Australian’s smart footwork allowed him to thread a cute pass in behind the Saints’ defence.

Furuhashi’s intent was to cross the ball for one of the arriving cavalry. Considine couldn’t apply the brakes and guided the ball beyond Remi Matthews. It was an inauspicious way to mark your 600th appearance in senior football.

On a rutted surface, Saints had actually started well, although nothing had come from the string of set pieces they forced.

With Maeda and Jota constantly swapping sides, the heads of Callum Davidson’s men must have been spinning as the visitors belatedly got into their stride. A Maeda cross from the left proved just too heavy for the Portuguese as he arrived on the scene.

Arriving midway through the first-half, Celtic’s second was a curious affair. When Jota gathered Mooy’s long pass on the right, the vast majority inside the stadium assumed an offside flag was in the post.

Jota, naturally, didn’t hang about. His cross allowed Furuhashi to take one touch to settle himself before firing his 23rd goal of the season high behind Matthews.

The celebrations were somewhat subdued until referee David Dickinson provided confirmation of the goal. It was going to take something spectacular for Saints to get back into the game. Wright certainly provided that three minutes later.

Opting to try his luck 25 yards from goal, the winger’s right-foot strike had pace and movement. For all that, Joe Hart may feel he could have got a hand to it as he conceded for the first time since January 2 at Ibrox.

You’ve got to hand it to Celtic, though. They were totally unruffled by seeing their lead halved and immediately set about restoring their two-goal cushion.

The third was simply delightful for in its build-up and its execution. Furuhashi seemed to be everywhere. A clever pass in a congested area picked out Jota.

Considine was then sent off for fouling Oh Hyeon-gyu on the defender’s 600th appearance

The winger’s chipped pass took out the entire Saints’ back-line. Mooy could have put his laces through the ball but beat Matthews with a fabulous lob.

The points looked all but safe at the interval. A fourth goal for Postecoglou’s side would certainly have confirmed it.

Jota came closest to finding it, striking the bar from the edge of the box after a textbook pass and move sequence that saw the visitors play their way through the visitors from the edge of their own box.

Only Matthews’ outstretched arm prevented Mooy from turning another flashing Maeda cross home.

Davidson cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines. Even more so when Connor McLennan wasn’t alert to two Carey crosses from the left that caught the Celtic defence napping.

Ange Postecoglou’s men are nine points clear of rivals Rangers in the Scottish Premiership

Another chance came and went after Cammy MacPherson’s mazy run drew a foul from Greg Taylor 25 yards out and central. The midfielder’s free-kick didn’t even clear the defensive wall.

The introduction of Liel Abada and Matt O’Riley was designed to see Celtic over the line, although the Israeli’s first involvement didn’t go to plan. Taking the ball off Mooy’s toe when the Australian looked set to score again, he lashed high over the top from close range.

Considine’s landmark day was one to forget. As the game entered stoppage time, he impeded Hyeon-gyu Oh as the Celtic substitute threatened to go clear on goal. Dickinson had no choice but to produce the red card.

The veteran defender was spared the sight of Turnbull thumping home the fourth after O’Riley had nudged a short free-kick in his direction.

St Johnstone kept going but never looked like avoiding going down to an eighth loss in nine in all competitions. The fact that none of the sides beneath them in the Premiership took a point this weekend will be some consolation.

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