Saints 2-4 Celtic (20.8.16)

St. Johnstone couldn't recover from trailing 3-0 at the interval despite a spirited fight back at the end of the second half.

First half strikes from Leigh Griffiths, Scott Sinclair and James Forrest gave the Glasgow side a dominating lead but goals from Danny Swanson (penalty) and Steven MacLean pulled it back to 3-2 before Ryan Christie scored in injury time as Saints pushed for an equaliser.

FULL MATCH REPORT

Saints headed into Saturday’s clash with Celtic looking to extend their lengthy unbeaten run. New signing Richard Foster came in for Steven Anderson, and Paul Paton came in for Chris Kane for the hosts.

Celtic kicked off, shooting into the Ormond Stand, but after a quiet opening spell, Danny Swanson mustered up the first effort of the match, blasting straight at Gordon from distance.

After debutant Foster conceded a free kick on the left hand edge of the box, Scott Sinclair blasted an ambitious effort past everyone and out for a goal kick.

And a powering run from his own half by Rogic was only thwarted by Mannus as the Hoops tried to work theior way into the match.

Foster then came to the rescue, as he blocked a Sinclair shot from inside the six yard box to prevent the visitors from taking the lead.

After a mazy run from Swanson, Murray Davidson dragged his shot wide from the edge of the box; Tommy Wright’s men eager to give the champions a run for their money.

Joe Shaughnessy then blocked Rogic from close range, as the Saints defence matched the Australian international again.

But Brendan Rodgers’ side took the lead through a deflected Leigh Griffiths strike which went in off the underside of the bar. 0-1.

Saints did all they could to get back in the game, and a Wotherspoon free kick on half an hour was tipped over by Gordon.

And the resulting corner was volleyed at goal by Brad McKay but MacLean could only deflect the effort into Gordon’s arms.

Leight Griffiths was shown a yellow card for diving as he leapt over a Brad McKay challenge in the box in front of Thomson, much to the striker’s frustration.

But Celtic doubled their lead after 39 minutes as Leigh Griffiths was twice denied by Mannus inside the six yard box, but the European Championships star couldn’t prevent Scott Sinclair smashing in the third effort. 0-2.

And it was three before half time, as Paul Paton couldn’t prevent James Forrest from bursting through in a quick counter attack to finish powerfully. 0-3.

In injury time, Mannus parried away a driven Griffiths free kick, and Thomson blew for half time with Saints trailing, and it would take a significant change in Saints’ fortunes in the second half if they were to take anything from the match. HT: St Johnstone 0-3 Celtic.

The second half opened quietly, until Rogic hit the bar from the edge of the box, as Celtic weren’t resting on their laurels.

Saints brought on Liam Craig for Blair Alston and Cletic switched Griffiths for Dembele on 54 minutes.

Celtic then switched Bitton for Henderson on the hour.

Saints retaliated by bringing on Chris Kane for Wotherspoon, desperate to reduce the deficit.

Celtic switched Forrest for Christie with 20 to go in their final change of the match.

After a quiet spell, Danny Swanson was awarded a penalty for being tripped in the box, which he dispatched with aplomb. 3-1.

And it was 3-2 moments later as Macca smashed across Craig Gordon who fumbled the ball into his own net. Game on, 3-2.

Saints brought on Cummins for McKay in injury time as the Saints looked to grab a late point.

But Saints were caught at the back and Ryan Christie made it four for the hosts, wriggling away from Foster. 4-2.

And that was how it finished, as Saints’ unbeaten run came to an end. Full time, St Johnstone 2-4 Celtic.

Saints: Mannus, Alston (Craig, 54), Davidson, MacLean, Wotherspoon (Kane, 64), Swanson, Shaughnessy, McKay (Cummins, 90), Paton, Foster, Easton, Unused subs: Clark, Gordon, McLaren, Comrie.

Goals : Griffiths (28), Sinclair (39), Forrest (43), Christie, (90)

Celtic: Gordon, Janko, Toure, O’Connell, Tierney, Forrest (Christie, 70), Brown, Bitton (Henderson, 60), Rogic, Sinclair, Griffiths (Dembele, 54). Unused subs: Fasan, Sviachenko, Izzaguire, McGregor.

Goals: Swanson (82), MacLean (87)

Attendance: 6824 Referee: Craig Thomson Man of the match: Danny Swanson

Match report by Ross Gardiner.