Celtic 0-0 Saints

Sunday 18th February

Saints put in a great team performance this afternoon as they earned a point at Celtic Park for the second time this season.

Saints created the better chances during the first half which included a David Wotherspoon header going narrowly over Dorus de Vries’ goal.

The hosts were much improved after the break however, Saints keeper Alan Mannus was in good form saving well to deny both Charly Musonda and Scott Sinclair.

MATCH REPORT

Saints returned to league action this afternoon following last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Hearts in the Scottish Cup as they travelled to the east end of Glasgow to take on the champions Celtic. Tommy Wright made three changes to the team that started at Tynecastle Park last Saturday as Scott Tanser, Chris Kane and Matty Willock all dropped to the bench. They were replaced by Blair Alston, Steven MacLean and George Williams, who was making his first start for the club after joining on loan from Fulham last month. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers made seven changes to the team that defeat Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 on Thursday evening in their first leg last 32 Europa League match at Celtic Park. Out went Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic, James Forrest, Scott Brown, Oliver Ntcham, Kieran Tierney and Moussa Dembele. They were replaced by Jack Hendry, Scott Sinclair, Cristian Gamboa, Tom Rogic, Odsonne Edouard, Calvin Miller and Charly Musonda.

The Glasgow side got the match underway and after 5 minutes they were awarded a free kick out on the left after Cristian Gamboa had been fouled by Jason Kerr. The free kick was delivered into the box by Charly Musonda which picked out Kristoffer Ajer in the six-yard box and the Norwegian bulleted a header towards goal that was brilliantly palmed away by Alan Mannus.

Saints were pressing the champions well and they almost took advantage of it on 14 minutes when Dorus de Vries scuffed his clearance and the ball was picked up by Steven MacLean who slipped it into the path of George Williams however, Ajer got back to knock the ball behind for a corner which came to nothing.

Saints came close to opening the scoring on 29 minutes when David Wotherspoon saw his header from a Blair Alston cross go inches over. Then a minute later Saints were awarded a free kick just outside the box after Williams had been fouled. Wotherspoon took the free kick and he played it short to Richard Foster whose shot went just over de Vries’ bar.

Celtic were awarded a free kick on 39 minutes following a foul on Scott Sinclair by Chris Millar. It was taken by Odsonne Edouard however, he put his effort wide of the target.

Then 2 minutes later Saints were awarded a free kick, after MacLean had been fouled by Eboue Kouassi, which was taken by Alston. However, the midfielders dipping effort went narrowly over.

Celtic created the first chance of the second half as Sinclair won the ball off Chris Millar in midfield before breaking. The midfielder then laid the ball off to Edouard whose shot took a deflection before being gathered by Mannus.

Then a minute later Saints just about broke the deadlock as Williams was inches away from making a connection to a Richard Foster cross.

It was a lively opening 5 minutes to the second half as on 49 minutes Mannus was quick out of his area to clear another Celtic attack. Williams latched onto the clearance before forcing a corner which was comfortably dealt with by the home defence.

On 59 minutes Saints were forced to make their first change of the match as Scott Tanser came on for the injured Richard Foster.

On 62 minutes Celtic were awarded a free kick just outside the box after Millar had fouled Edouard. Musonda curled the free kick over the wall aiming for the bottom corner however, Mannus got down well to save and the Saints number 1 was up quickly to gather Sinclair’s cross from the rebound.

Saints made their second change of the game on 65 minutes as Matty Willock came on for Williams and the on-loan Manchester United midfielder almost made an immediate impact as he beat his man on the by-line before breaking into the box and cutting the ball back to Wotherspoon. However, Ajer got back just in time to knock the ball behind for a corner just as Wotherspoon was about to shoot.

Celtic continued to look for a way past a well organised Saints defence and Mannus made another good save on 77 minutes when he got down well to a low Sinclair strike.

Then 5 minutes later Willock setup Alston whose shot from the edge of the box was defected for a corner which came to nothing.

Celtic continued to press and in the final minute of normal time it looked like the hosts would snatch all three points as Moussa Dembele broke into the box however, Jason Kerr got back to make a great tackle to deny the French striker as Saints saw the final minutes out to secure a well-deserved point.

Celtic: de Vries, Hendry, Sinclair, Gamboa, Rogic (Forrest 61), Edouard (Dembele 74), Ajer, McGregor, Miller (Tierney 80), Musonda, Kouassi

Unused Substitutes: Bain (GK), Simunovic, McInroy, Ralston

Booked: None

Saints: Mannus, Alston, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Millar (Craig 89), Davidson, MacLean, Wotherspoon, Williams (Willock 65), Kerr, Foster (Tanser 59)

Unused Substitutes: Clark (GK), Johnstone, McClean, Kane

Booked: Foster, Davidson, Wotherspoon, Alston

Referee: John Beaton

Match Report by Daryl Scott

Picture: George Williams in action