Wednesday 25th January
a 72nd minute header from Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata gave his side the three points in a match Saints more than matched the hosts for most of the encounter.
Danny Swanson and Steven Anderson came closest to opening the scoring but couldn't find a way past Craig Gordon.
After Saturday’s 2-0 win against Stenhousemuir in the Scottish Cup, Saints travelled to the east end of Glasgow to take on the Celtic for their first Ladbrokes Premiership match of 2017. Tommy Wright made four changes to the side that started at the weekend as Brian Easton, Blair Alston, Steven MacLean and Graham Cummins all dropped to the bench and were replaced by Tom Scobbie, Paul Paton, Chris Kane and Liam Craig. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers made one change to the Celtic side that defeated Albion Rovers 3-0 on Sunday as Jozo Simunovic came in for Mikael Lustig.
Danny Swanson got the match underway with Saints shooting towards the ‘Steven MacLean’ end of Celtic Park.
Celtic were awarded a free kick after 2 minutes as Paul Paton fouled Nir Bitton from about 25 yards out. The free kick was taken by Bitton who sent it inches wide.
Saints then went straight up the other end and Swanson did well to win Saints a corner. Liam Craig took the corner and his deep ball into the box found Steven Anderson whose header went narrowly over.
The home side had the ball in the net on 10 minutes after Scott Sinclair had headed home a James Forrest cross however, the goal was ruled out as the Main Stand linesman put his flag up to indicate that Forrest had ran the ball out of play before crossing.
The home side had a big scare on 16 minutes as Swanson sent a corner over from the right which Craig Gordon came to gather however, he fumbled the ball and it dropped to Anderson who sent a lofting shot towards goal which had Gordon back tracking to tip over.
Zander Clark was called into action on 19 minutes as he tipped over a Stuart Armstrong strike from 25 yards and then David Wotherspoon cleared a Dedryck Boyata header off the line from the resultant corner.
Saints came even closer to breaking the deadlock a minute later as Celtic struggled to clear a Saints corner the ball then fell to Swanson who unleashed a great strike which cracked off the post with Gordon beaten.
With just over half an hour played some good work by Sinclair down the left saw him beat his man before cutting back to Moussa Dembele who couldn’t get his effort on target. Then on 38 minutes Sinclair again got down the left before cutting the ball back to Dembele who fired well over.
Clark made another good save to deny Forrest on 40 minutes as he turned the wingers’ effort behind for a corner which was cleared by Paul Paton.
Saints started the second half well with their strong defensive play limiting the Champions to opportunities in front of goal.
On 58 minutes Celtic skipper Scott Brown, who was making his 400th appearance for the Glasgow side, setup Forrest however, the winger blasted well over.
Saints then made a change as Blair Alston was introduced into the action replacing David Wotherspoon.
Celtic continued to try and find a way past the stubborn Saints defence and on 61 minutes a low 25-yard strike by Brown was saved by Clark. Then 2 minutes later Clark made a great save this time denying Stuart Armstrong.
Patrick Roberts was then introduced into the action for the home side and he almost made an immediate impact as on 65 minutes his cutback was flicked on by Dembele to Sinclair who couldn’t convert.
On 69 minutes Gamboa had a shot from distance which didn’t trouble Clark. Celtic eventually found the breakthrough on 72 minutes as Boyata powered home a header from a corner.
Saints were claiming for a penalty on 74 minutes as Brown pushed Anderson in the box as he went for the ball however, referee Andrew Dallas waved play on.
As the match entered 3 minutes of stoppage time Brown skipped his way into the Saints box before unleashing a left footed shot which went over. Then a mix-up between Sviatchenko and Gordon at the back presented Saints with one final chance however, Saints couldn’t take advantage as the home side cleared their lines.
Man of the Match: Steven Anderson
Celtic: Gordon, Simunovic, Bitton, Brown, Dembele (Griffiths 75), Sinclair, Gamboa (Sviatchenko 83), Armstrong, Boyata, Forrest (Roberts 63), Tierney Unused Substitutes: De Vries (GK), Izaguirre, Griffiths, MacKay-Steven Booked: Gordon Scorers: Boyata (72)
Saints: Clark, Scobbie, Anderson, Millar, Wotherspoon (Alston 58), Swanson (Cummins 79), Shaughnessy, Paton, Watson, Kane (MacLean 79), Craig Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), Davidson, Easton, Thomson Booked: Craig, Paton
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Match Report by Daryl Scott
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