against celtic. Scottish Premiership.
12.30 p.m., Sunday, December 26th, 2021.
McDiarmid Park Presence: Attendance500.
Liel Abada scored twice when Celtic beat St. Johnstone 3-1; Chris Kane withdrew a goal for the Perth team; Celtic maintains pressure on Premiership leaders Rangers; St. Johnstone remains at the bottom two points behind
Celtic returned to winning ways with a 3-1 win over St. Johnstone at McDiarmid Park to keep the pressure on Premiership leaders Rangers.
Liel Abada scored twice at the start when Celtic started the game at McDiarmid Park with real intent after losing points the last time at St. Mirren.
Illness and injury resulted in coach Ange Postecoglou’s five Made changes for the game and then dealt him another blow when striker Kyogo Furuhashi was injured after just 14 minutes.
Chris Kane returned to the St. Johnstone squad after self-isolation and the substitute’s header in the second half gave hope to the Perth side.
But Nir Bitton scored a rare late goal to secure victory for Celtic, leaving St. Johnstone without a win in their last eight Premiership games back.
Celtic were eight players short before Scott Bain, Callum McGregor, Anthony Ralston, Greg Taylor and Liam Shaw were eliminated. The Hoops then debuted their 18-year-old former Scunthorpe striker Joey Dawson to replace Furuhashi in the 15th minute.
St. Johnstone boss Callum Davidson made two changes: Ali Crawford and Viv Solomon-Otabor arrived into the starting XI, Murray Davidson and Michael O’Halloran are eliminated. Chris Kane was available after the isolation and starts on the bench.
Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi was back in the starting line-up. The biggest surprise was that Vasilis Barkas started in goal. Carl Starfelt returned from suspension, Josip Juranovic and James McCarthy also started.
With the entry into force of the new 500 audience limit in Scotland, the successful Saints season ticket holders suffered an eighth consecutive defeat.
After his team failed to implement 31 shots in a goalless tie against Covid hit St. Mirren in the middle of the week, Celtic coach Postecoglou brought Furuhashi back after the Japanese striker missed games on both sides of his victorious League Cup final double. Celtic had Carl Starfelt back in a three-man chain after a suspension and Vasilis Barkas in goal in a newly designed starting XI that was full of recognizable players. Their bench had little experience and included 16-year-old Ben Doak, who wanted to become the club’s youngest ever player.
Saints had a new Covid absence. Murray Davidson was absent, while Kane was only fit for one seat on the bench after becoming the first of four other players to go out of self-isolation.
It took Celtic nine minutes to calm the nerves of his fans from home from watching or listening, and the dozen or so trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on from a hill and even a tree outside of McDiarmid Park.
In their own half, the Saints lost the ball twice in quick succession and Josip Juranovic delivered a perfect flat cross for Abada. The Israeli winger’s first shot was brilliantly blocked by Elliott Parish, but the Celtic player hit the rebound in the midst of bodies and threw it into the net. He was able to push the ball into the corner for Abada.
Juranovic had saved a try before Parish made a better stop after Bitton Abada played clean.
Parish blocked Liam Scales from close range and Abada had two more openings before the break, but was ultimately ousted by the Saints defense.
The half-time whistle was met with boos from the fans, whose only glimmer of hope was a cross leading to a lengthy Stevie May header.
Little changed at the beginning of the second half. Parish made another excellent stop after Rogic’s pass to defeat Abada, and Liam Gordon steered Scales’s cross just over his own bar under pressure from Abada.
Saints improved and came back in the 69th minute into play after Starfelt released the ball. Kane ran to Viv Solomon-Otabor’s cross and headed a header into the far top corner.
Jacob Butterfield shot from distance for the hosts, but Celtic generally held the ball after Kane’s goal.
In In the 82nd minute they ended the game after a phase of possession on the left. Scales passed the ball in for Bitton and the midfielder placed the ball from 16 yards inside the near post.
Callum Davidson, St. Johnstone boss: « It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks. I told the players there, that some of you have to go and see yourself. «
» We have to find a way to get some quality players to get out of this mess with the players we have here.
« We conceded a goal easily in the first 10 minutes after we had possession and that was the hunt for the game. We made all three goals way too easy for them. «
He added: » With a few quality players – seven or eight starters missing today – a little more luck and more quality, I firmly believe that we will do a lot play better.
« The basics are the greatest. We did really well last season and had fantastic successes. The players have to get better, otherwise they won’t play. Easy. »
Celtic- Boss Ange Postecoglou: « The last few days have been pretty chaotic, as you can imagine and we just had to keep going.
» To be fair, it was a challenge from the moment I stepped here it was just different challenges.
« I keep telling the players that, we didn’t apologize or feel sorry for ourselves all the time, we just kept going. Every challenge we faced, we have largely mastered a test of the character within the group. «
The winger stepped in as a striker at McDiarmid Park and took his chances, with St. Johnstone goalkeeper Elliot Parish giving him more than once denied a hat trick.
After the winter break, St. Johnstone will travel to Hearts on Tuesday, January 18 (7:45 pm), while Celtic will visit Hibs on Monday, January 17 (7:45 pm).
Another Saturday, another chance to win £ 250,000 on Super 6. Play for free, entry until 3pm.
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