St Mirren 0-4 Celtic: Rogic, Edouard, Christie and Turnbull all on the scoresheet as Neil Lennon’s side cruise to Scottish Premiership win
- Tom Rogic fired Celtic into the lead after 16 minutes with an excellent finish
- Odsonne Edouard netted a penalty 11 minutes from time to seal all three points
- Ryan Christie made it three in the 82nd minute with a finish in off the post
- David Turnbull finished cooly into the corner as St Mirren collapsed late on
Even amid the snowfall presently sweeping across Scotland’s central belt, the green shoots of Celtic’s recent progress remain visible.
For the first time this year, Neil Lennon’s men are able to reflect of three successive league victories.
Ordinarily a feat of little consequence, in this cursed campaign, it’s as close to a purple patch as they are likely to find.
Tom Rogic opened the scoring for Celtic against St Mirren with a neat finish in the penalty box
It was a much-needed win for Neil Lennon’s Celtic in the Scottish Premiership on Wednesday
St Mirren: (3-4-3) Alnwick 5, Fraser 5, Shaughnessy 5, McCarthy 5, Flynn 5 (Erwin 81) Doyle-Hayes 5, McGrath 3 (McAllister 15) Erhahon 4, Connolly 5 (MacPherson 72) Obika 5, Durmus 4.
Subs not used: Lyness, Tait, Mason, Finlayson, Henderson, Jamieson.
Booked: Obika, Fraser.
Celtic: (4-4-2) Bain 7, Kenny 7, Welsh 6 (Duffy 68) Ajer 7, Taylor 7, Brown 7, McGregor 7, Turnbull 7 (Griffiths 84) Rogic 8 (Elyounoussi 84) Edouard 7 (Klimala) Ajeti 7 (Christie 68).
Subs not used: Barkas, Soro, Johnston, Laxalt.
Scorers: Rogic 15, Edouard (pen) 79, Christie 82, Turnbull 83.
Referee: Don Robertson.
Man of the match: Tom Rogic.
For a manager who seemed to be living day-by-day as the Dubai fiasco bled into on-field affairs, there is at last some shelter from the storm.
Beating a bullish St Mirren side to reduce the gap at the top of the table to 18 points will have no appreciable impact on the title race but Celtic have at least reminded themselves and the watching world of their true worth.
While a successful defence of the Scottish Cup is the only realistic chance of silverware, there is much to be said for ensuring that a sense of credibility accompanies their remaining league fixtures.
On nights such as these, the gargantuan gap separating Celtic from Rangers is something of a mystery.
Displaying an appetite not always seen this season, Lennon’s men were fluent and ruthless – even if they did rely on a late flourish to put the issue to bed.
Tom Rogic, so often a let down this season, was just one of many excellent performances with the Australian opening the scoring with a thunderous strike in the first half.
St Mirren were game but lacked potency in the final third. For all their commendable efforts, they fell apart badly in the final 12 minutes with an Odsonne Edouard penalty preceding a quick double by Ryan Christie and David Turnbull. The scoreline may have flattered Celtic but the victory did not.
Jim Goodwin will console himself with the knowledge that his side simply had the misfortune to run into a Celtic side of old. Lennon’s men simply produced a different level of performance so so much of what they’ve turned in this term.
Lennon, unsurprisingly, named the same side which had defeated Motherwell at the weekend with Albian Ajeti free to play after winning his appeal against an SFA charge of simulation at Kilmarnock last week.
Ryan Christie netted Celtic’s third as Neil Lennon’s side find their goalscoring touch late on
Jak Alnwick returned in goal for the Buddies after his two-game suspension with Jim Goodwin also promoting Ryan Flynn and Dylan Connolly from the bench.
The Saints boss had made no secret of his intention to attack Celtic in the same manner which had recently resulted in their first victory at Parkhead in 31 years and he wasn’t bluffing.
Shaping with an ambitious 3-4-3, the Buddies asked questions from the outset. When Greg Taylor lost an early aerial challenge on the edge of his box, he was relieved to see Jamie McGrath’s strike land on top of the net.
Ryan Flynn then spun smartly away from Callum McGregor on the right. Presented with multiple options, he erred and allowed Stephen Welsh to toe his cross to safety.
Goodwin’s plans and his side’s momentum were upset by McGrath’s early withdrawal through injury, the Irishman damaging his left arm in a tussle with Welsh.
It seemed to spook his team-mates. Within a minute they were behind as Celtic capitalised on a momentary lapse in concentration.
Jonjoe Kenny, already evidently a more rounded full-back than Jeremie Frimpong, executed a simple pass to Rogic on the right which initially appeared to present little danger.
Winding the clock back a year or so, the Australian dropped a shoulder and danced his way towards goal. Rendering two opponents statuesque, his left-foot finish from the edge of the box was exquisite, nestling low in the far corner of Alnwick’s net with pin-point accuracy.
Rogic’s goal set the champions on their way to what was in the end a comfortable victory
As harsh as it was on St Mirren, Celtic had begun to wake up to the challenge. As the profiles of Turnbull and Callum McGregor rose in the game, Edouard began to take the ball in threatening positions and test the mettle of the Saints’ defence.
The Buddies remained busy but in need of a final ball. A string of set pieces came and went without forcing Scott Bain into a meaningful save. Dylan Connolly scuffed a shot wide from 12 yards when he should have done better.
Ajeti looked more like the player who’d started the season purposefully. Dropping deep, the Swiss became the link man in a move which allowed Rogic to get another shot away just before the break. This time his only reward was a corner.
St Mirren restarted brightly with Jon Obika drawing a foul from Turnbull in a dangerous area. To Goodwin’s dismay, Ryan Flynn’s free-kick crashed straight into the defensive wall.
Rogic was in the mood here. Popping up on the right, his dancing feet played in Callum McGregor with the midfielder spurning a fine chance to all but win the game.
There was more tempo to Celtic’s play in the second period. A sumptuous move featuring Turnbull, Rogic and Edouard ended with the Frenchman being denied his 18th goal of the season by a deflection.
Star striker Odsonne Edouard netted Celtic’s second from the penalty spot late in the day
Turnbull then went close twice in quick succession before Rogic dragged a strike narrowly wide. Lennon roared his approval.
The Buddies were seeing less and less of the ball. Not that that was any excuse for Obika’s cumbersome late foul on Welsh which saw the young centre half stretchered off and the striker booked.
Shane Duffy was called from the bench with Ryan Christie also replacing the tiring Ajeti. The Irishman’s first involvement was an important on as he stepped in to block Kyle McAllister’s ambitious drive.
Not only did St Mirren stay alive, they came again. Joe Shaughnessy got his head onto Cammy McPherson’s floated free-kick but there was real purchase on his effort and Bain gathered easily.
How the ceiling fell in on Goodwin’s wide in the closing stages, however.
Marcus Fraser’s clumsy challenge on Greg Taylor with 12 minutes remaining proved to be the catalyst. Edouard powerfully drilled the ball past Alnwick to keep his fine recent run going.
David Turnbull also got in on the act as St Mirren’s defence fell apart in the closing stages
Five minutes later, Christie scored the third – perhaps the pick of the bunch. Shielding the ball from his opponents, he found a majestic finish in off the far post with his left foot.
Still Celtic weren’t done. Turnbull claimed the fourth within 60 seconds when he calmly slotted home Christie’s delicate chip ver the top before taking a well earned rest.
It was harsh in St Mirren but was a reminder of what Celtic are still capable of doing to you when they are in the mood. It’s been some time since Lennon’s players felt this good about themselves.
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