Saints 0-2 Celtic

Saints headed into Sunday’s clash with champions Celtic looking to take something from the Parkhead side after coming close midweek.

Midway through a glut of fixtures against Brendan Rodgers’ side, Saints started brightly, but play was quickly halted after Kristoffer Ajer picked up a nasty knock.

Saints had a gilt-edged chance inside five minutes when a mazy run by Kennedy culminated in a one-two with Murray Davidson, but Scott Bain blocked the resulting shot. Tony Watt was unable to get the rebound on target.

Celtic burst into the box for the first time on ten minutes but Joe Shaughnessy’s commanding tackle stopped the visitors in their tracks.

Saints countered up the left and Scott Tanser’s low cross found Watt who squiffed his strike from close range.

Celtic were enjoying the lion’s share of possession but were unable to challenge Zander Clark in the Saints goal. The Glasgow side’s first real chance came when an Oli Burke run was cleared off the line by Richard Foster, as Saints held on well throughout the opening half hour.

Saints were presented with a good opportunity in injury time as Ross Callahan’s half volley was blocked and Emilio Izaguirre committed a foul going for the second ball.

Debutant Sean Goss swung in a dangerous free kick but Bain scooped up the ball after good Saints pressure. Half time: 0-0

The visitors got the second half underway and came out of the blocks all guns blazing, and Clark brilliantly denied Burke with a low diving save less than five minutes after the restart.

Saints matched the Hoops like for like and Matty Kennedy’s cross somehow evaded Watt in what looked like the best opportunity of the match after Saints had been camped in the Celtic box for around five minutes.

Danny Swanson was first to go into the book for a tug on James Forrest’s shirt, but Ryan Christie skied the resulting free kick.

The winger made way for David Wotherspoon just after the hour mark as Tommy’s first change. Celtic brought on Odsonne Edouard for Burke after the on loan striker had a good effort saved by Clark.

And moments later, Clark again was quick to react ending a surging run from Jozo Simunovic.

The stopper made it a hat trick of saves by stopping Edouard as the sub struck on the turn just moments on the field.

Celtic were the dominant side and Christie found the side netting from the edge of the area on 66 minutes.

Clark and captain Shaughnessy combined spectacularly to deny Christie and Edouard, with the two Celtic players coming off worst and requiring treatment.

Sub Edouard then had to be replaced, with Timo Weah replacing the Frenchman.

With just under 15 minutes left on the clock, comer Rangers striker Michael O’Halloran was brought on to replace the ever-energetic Kennedy.

However that was when Celtic took the lead as James Forrest slotted beyond Clark.

Saints looked to grab a late leveller and brought on Callum Hendry for Goss after the QPR loanee was booked for an altercation with Scott Brown.

Celtic finished the game with ten men as Forrest limped up the tunnel with all substitutions used on 82 minutes.

Saints pressed for an equaliser but when Tanser’s corner was cleared, a three-on-one counter attack culminated in Weah smashing home a second for Celtic, putting the game to bed.

Ajer was sent off for denying Hendry a clear goal scoring opportunity and Saints had a free kick in a dangerous position against nine man Celtic, but Tanser’s effort was inches wide.

It finished 2-0 again to Celtic for the second time in five days, with Saints looking to bounce back against Hamilton midweek.

Saints: Clark, Foster, Kerr, Shaughnessy, Tanser, Callachan, Davidson, Goss (Hendry, 81), Swanson (Wotherspoon, 63), Kennedy (O’Halloran, 77), Watt. Unused subs: Bell, Keown, Gordon, Craig.

Booked: Swanson, Goss

Celtic: Bain, Lustig (Toljan, 46), Ajer, Simunovic, Izaguirre, McGregor, Brown, Forrest, Sinclair, Christie, Burke (Edouard, 65 (Weah, 73)). Unused subs: Gordon, Bitton, Hayes, Johnston.

Goals: Forrest (77), Weah (89)

Booked: Forrest, Weah, Ajer (sent off)

Attendance: 6242

Referee: Willie Collum

Man of the Match: Zander Clark

Match report by Ross Gardiner.