Wednesday 30th January
Saints were defeated 2-0 by Celtic in the east end of Glasgow this evening.
The hosts enjoyed a lot of possession during the first half but Zander Clark had only one save of note to make as the sides went in all square at half time.
However, the second half was a different story as Callum McGregor put the champions ahead on 53 minutes when he fired low into the far corner of the net 8 minutes into the half. Then 2 minutes later Celtic doubled their lead as Ryan Christie curled in a second for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
The sides meet again this Sunday as Saints host Celtic in a lunchtime kick off.
Saints headed to the east end of Glasgow this evening to take on the champions Celtic. Tommy Wright made four changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Hearts on Saturday as Liam Gordon, Ross Callachan, Matty Kennedy and Tony Watt dropped to the bench. They were replaced by Blair Alston, David Wotherspoon, Danny Swanson and Michael O’Halloran, who was making his first start since re-joining the club earlier this month. Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side that defeated Hamilton Accies 3-0 at Celtic Park at the weekend. Out went Filip Benković, Mikey Johnston and Timothy Weah to be replaced by Jozo Simunovic, James Forrest and Oliver Burke.
Saints got the match underway but on a bitterly cold evening it took a bit of time to warm up. The first chance of the game came after 13 minutes as the hosts were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area after James Forrest had been fouled by Murray Davidson. The free kick was taken by Ryan Christie and the midfielder did well to get the ball up and over the wall however, his curling effort went inches wide.
Then on 18 minutes a slack ball by Liam Craig was picked up by Oliver Burke and the on-loan attacker burst forward and into the Saints box before seeing his effort deflected for a corner, which was comfortably dealt with by the Saints defence.
A minute later Saints were awarded a free kick after Murray Davidson was brought down by Emilio Izaguirre. Craig took the free kick and his deep ball into the box was knocked behind for a corner which came to nothing.
As the match approached the half an hour mark Izaguirre delivered a good ball into the box which was met by the head of Scott Sinclair who sent a powerful header goal wards but Zander Clark made a fantastic point-blank save to deny the midfielder.
On 33 minutes Burke flashed an effort wide of the target as Celtic continued to press for the opening goal. Then with 6 minutes of the first half remaining the Hoops captain Scott Brown had a shot from distance but his effort didn’t trouble Clark as it went well over.
Celtic’s dominance eventually told on 53 minutes. Mikael Lustig played the ball to Callum McGregor and he advanced towards the Saints box before firing into the far corner of the net to put the hosts a goal up.
Then it was two 2 minutes later as Lustig was again the provider this time setting up Christie who sent a great looping effort past Clark.
The one-way traffic continued as Christie saw his effort go inches wide on 58 minutes. Then shortly after Brown had a shot which went well over.
Saints made a double change on 65 minutes as Tony Watt and Ross Callachan came on for Michael O’Halloran and Danny Swanson.
However, the pressure continued as a Sinclair free kick on 72 minutes was well held by Clark. The Saints number one was called into action again on 76 minutes as he got down well to hold a strike from Celtic substitute Timothy Weah.
2 minutes later Clark and Shaughnessy combined to turn a Odsonne Édouard effort behind from a corner. Christie’s delivery from the left was cleared by Saints and they broke up field through Callachan who tried to play in Watt but Izaguirre got back to clear the danger.
Despite being well in control of the game Celtic pushed for more goals and on 84 minutes Brown sent a good pass through to McGregor who came close to a third as he had a shot at goal but Clark made a fine save to prevent the Hoops from further extending their lead.
Celtic: Bain, Izaguirre, Simunovic, Brown, Sinclair (Weah 74), Christie (Bitton 81), Lustig, Burke (Edouard 68), Ajer, McGregor, Forrest
Unused Substitutes: Gordon (GK), Hayes, Henderson, Johnston
Scorers: McGregor (53), Christie (55)
Saints: Clark, Tanser, Alston (Kennedy 81), Shaughnessy, Davidson, Wotherspoon, Swanson (Callachan 65), Kerr, O’Halloran (Watt 65), Foster, Craig
Unused Substitutes: Hurst (GK), Hendry, Gordon, Keown
Referee: Greg Aitken
Match Report by Daryl Scott
Picture: Richard Foster and Scott Sinclair challenge for the ball
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