Francisco Sandaza's penalty was enough to give St Johnstone an efficient win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle that lifts the Perth side into fourth spot.

The Spanish striker netted his 18th goal of the season in the 41st minute after Gregory Tade fouled Liam Craig.

Tade had earlier missed the hosts' best opportunity of the first half when he fired wide from eight yards.

Billy McKay also missed chances for the hosts both sides of the goal, while a Claude Gnakpa effort clipped the bar.

The disjointed hosts had created the better chances, but it was St Johnstone who produced the more controlled display to strengthen their bid for European football by leapfrogging three points clear of Dundee United.

Sandaza scored his 18th goal of the season for St Johnstone

Sandaza scored his 18th goal of the season for St Johnstone

Saints were missing the influential Murray Davidson, who scored in Saturday's 2-1 win at home to Hearts, and he was replaced with Chris Millar.

Northern Ireland goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey continued in goal for the hosts after Ryan Esson picked up a groin injury in the warm-up at Pittodrie.

Meanwhile, Thomas Piermayr was the one to replace Josh Meekings in the Caley Thistle starting line-up following the defender's suspension after a red card picked up in Saturday's win over Aberdeen.

It was Piermayr's long ball that set up the first chance of the game and, when McKay's effort was blocked by goalkeeper Alan Mannus, Tade fired wide from eight yards as the Frenchman failed to add to Saturday's winner.

McKay was thwarted by Mannus moments later when his low shot was blocked and the goalkeeper pounced on his own spillage.

Craig headed a Dave Mackay cross a couple of yards wide at the other end.

Ross Tokely's header from a Greg Tansey free-kick was saved well by Mannus and, moments later, the visitors made Caley Thistle pay for their missed chances.

Tade barged into Craig, referee Willie Collum awarded the penalty and Sandaza scored from the spot.

St Johnstone continued to look the more dangerous after the break and a Sandaza ball across the face of goal just evaded strike partner Cillian Sheridan.

Richie Foran squandered a chance at the other end, heading over from six yards out.

Sandaza ought to have set up Sheridan for the visitors' second goal but greedily missed with his own attempt.

Inverness were looking ineffectual, yet McKay missed another excellent chance when he fired wide from inside the box.

Sandaza was denied by a finger-tip save from Tuffey, while Gnakpa's effort shaved the woodwork as neither side was able to add to the scoreline.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Terry Butcher : "We play Hibs in our next game and Pat Fenlon won't know my team because I don't know what my team will be.

"We don't have a big squad, but some of the guys who have been in cold storage will be coming out the fridge.

"You can't believe how disappointed I am. I thought we left the team that won on Saturday in Aberdeen and instead brought back 11 strangers.

"Our movement and passing were excellent against Aberdeen, but there was none of that tonight, although I felt we still had three really unbelievable chances and should have taken something from the game."

St Johnstone boss Steve Lomas : "We rode our luck a bit early on, although the chances they had were more coming from our mistakes.

"I thought we probably could have been a bit more clinical in the second half because Inverness were pushing forward and we had opportunities to pick them off, but perhaps that is being a little bit over-critical.

"However, to come to a place like Inverness on a Wednesday night, especially after they had such a good result at the weekend against Aberdeen, and get the win says a lot about the players."

Match Stats

Shots

6 6

On target

2 1

Corners

0 5

Fouls

13 15

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:48

Foul by Francisco Sandaza (St Johnstone) on Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT) from own half, resulting in open play.

90:00 +3:35

Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

90:00 +3:25 Full time

Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.

90:00 +2:29

Shot by Claude Gnakpa (Inverness CT) right-footed from right side of penalty area (18 yards), goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

90:00 +1:24

Defending throw-in by Roman Golobart (Inverness CT).

90:00 +0:42

Foul by David Robertson (St Johnstone) on Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT) from own half, resulting in open play.

90:00 +0:04

Defending throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

89:50

Defending throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

89:21

Defending throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

88:35

Shot by Liam Craig (St Johnstone) left-footed from right side of penalty area (12 yards), over the bar. Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

87:41

Corner from right by-line taken short left-footed by Liam Craig (St Johnstone).

87:41 Substitution

Substitution St Johnstone substitution: Jody Morris replaced by Steven Anderson (tactical).

86:44

Shot by Francisco Sandaza (St Johnstone) right-footed from right side of penalty area (12 yards), save (tipped over) by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT). Corner from right by-line taken short left-footed by Liam Craig (St Johnstone).

85:56

Attacking throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

85:20

Attacking throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

84:28

Attacking throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

84:01

Defending throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

83:13

Defending throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

83:13 Substitution

Substitution St Johnstone substitution: Cillian Sheridan replaced by David Robertson (tactical).

82:41 Substitution

Substitution Inverness CT substitution: Shane Sutherland replaced by Claude Gnakpa (tactical).

82:17

Defending throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

81:58

Attacking throw-in by Richie Foran (Inverness CT).

81:26

Defending throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

80:22

Free kick crossed left-footed by Liam Craig (St Johnstone) from right channel, resulting in open play.

80:22 Booking

Booking Ross Tokely (Inverness CT) booked for unsporting behaviour.

80:20

Foul by Ross Tokely (Inverness CT) on Chris Millar (St Johnstone).

79:06

Shot by Billy McKay (Inverness CT) left-footed from centre of penalty area (12 yards), missed right. Goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

77:50

Liam Craig (St Johnstone) caught offside. Free kick taken right-footed by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT) from own half, resulting in open play.

77:24

Foul by Roman Golobart (Inverness CT) on Jody Morris (St Johnstone). Free kick taken left-footed by Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) from own half, resulting in open play.

75:46

Foul by Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) on Billy McKay (Inverness CT). Free kick crossed right-footed by Owain Tudur Jones (Inverness CT) from right channel, save (caught) by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

75:29

Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

74:51

Defending throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

74:18

Goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

73:38

Defending throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

73:10 Substitution

Substitution Inverness CT substitution: Gregory Tade replaced by Nick Ross (tactical).

72:40

Foul by Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) on Jody Morris (St Johnstone). Free kick taken right-footed by Jody Morris (St Johnstone) from left channel, passed.

71:59

Attacking throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

71:26

Defending throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone). Attacking throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

70:39

Foul by David McCracken (St Johnstone) on Billy McKay (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Owain Tudur Jones (Inverness CT) from own half, passed.

69:42

Francisco Sandaza (St Johnstone) caught offside. Free kick taken right-footed by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT) from own half, resulting in open play.

69:01

Foul by Jody Morris on Richie Foran, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Richie Foran.

67:48

Attacking throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

67:16

Defending throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

66:07

Unfair challenge on Roman Golobart by Alan Maybury results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Greg Tansey from right wing, clearance by David McCracken.

65:44

Defending throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

65:07

Defending throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

64:44

Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

64:25

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

63:32

Foul by Jody Morris (St Johnstone) on Billy McKay (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) from right channel, passed.

62:39

Foul by Gregory Tade (Inverness CT) on Chris Millar (St Johnstone). Free kick taken right-footed by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone) from own half, resulting in open play.

62:16

Attacking throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

61:40

Defending throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

58:14

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

56:56

Foul by Jody Morris (St Johnstone) on Billy McKay (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Owain Tudur Jones (Inverness CT) from left channel, header by Richie Foran (Inverness CT) from left side of penalty area (12 yards), over the bar. Goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

56:36

Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

55:50

Shot by Francisco Sandaza (St Johnstone) right-footed from right side of penalty area (12 yards), missed left. Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

55:24

Defending throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

54:33

Defending throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

52:51

Corner from left by-line taken short right-footed by Lee Croft (St Johnstone). Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

52:42

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

51:44

Goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

51:05

Defending throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

50:19

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

49:23

Foul by David McCracken (St Johnstone) on Billy McKay (Inverness CT). Free kick taken left-footed by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) from left channel, resulting in open play. Attacking throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

49:18

Attacking throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

48:01 Booking

Booking Owain Tudur Jones (Inverness CT) booked for unsporting behaviour.

47:01 Booking

Booking Francisco Sandaza (St Johnstone) booked for unsporting behaviour.

46:02

Foul by Jody Morris (St Johnstone) on Greg Tansey (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT) from right channel, passed.

45:01

The match restarts for the second half.

45:00 +0:04 Half time

Half Time The referee blows for half time.

44:26

Attacking throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

43:53

Defending throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone). Defending throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

43:17

Attacking throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

42:21

Goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

41:59

Defending throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

41:07

Foul by Gregory Tade (Inverness CT) on Cillian Sheridan (St Johnstone). Free kick taken right-footed by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone) from own half, resulting in open play.

40:45

Attacking throw-in by Gregory Tade (Inverness CT).

40:01

Assist by Liam Craig (St Johnstone) from left side of penalty area.

40:01 Goal scored

Goal! - Francisco Sandaza - Inverness 0 - 1 St J'stone Placed penalty taken right-footed by Francisco Sandaza (St Johnstone) (top-left of goal), scored.Inverness CT 0-1 St Johnstone.

38:40

Foul by Gregory Tade (Inverness CT) on Liam Craig (St Johnstone).

38:06

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

36:14

Free kick taken right-footed by Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) from right channel, header by Ross Tokely (Inverness CT) from left side of penalty area (12 yards), save (caught) by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

36:14 Booking

Booking Chris Millar (St Johnstone) booked for unsporting behaviour.

36:11

Foul by Chris Millar (St Johnstone) on Shane Sutherland (Inverness CT).

35:14

Shot by Lee Croft (St Johnstone) right-footed from right channel (30 yards), over the bar. Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

31:49

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

29:57

Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by Liam Craig (St Johnstone) to centre, save (punched) by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT). Foul by Francisco Sandaza (St Johnstone) on Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT) from own half, resulting in open play.

29:20

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

28:03

Shot by Chris Millar (St Johnstone) right-footed from right channel (25 yards), over the bar. Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

27:32

Foul by Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) on Jody Morris (St Johnstone). Free kick taken left-footed by Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) from own half, resulting in open play.

26:41

Foul by Cillian Sheridan (St Johnstone) on Roman Golobart (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Ross Tokely (Inverness CT) from own half, passed.

26:04

Attacking throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

25:31

Defending throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

24:45

Foul by Owain Tudur Jones (Inverness CT) on Lee Croft (St Johnstone). Free kick taken right-footed by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone) from own half, resulting in open play.

23:49

Header by Liam Craig (St Johnstone) from centre of penalty area (12 yards), missed right. Goal kick taken long by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT).

23:37

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

23:16

Foul by Richie Foran (Inverness CT) on Jody Morris (St Johnstone). Free kick taken right-footed by Jody Morris (St Johnstone) from right channel, resulting in open play.

22:15

Foul by Cillian Sheridan (St Johnstone) on Ross Tokely (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Ross Tokely (Inverness CT) from own half, resulting in open play.

19:53

Shot by Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right-footed from left side of penalty area (12 yards), save (caught) by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

19:16

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

18:24

Shot by Gregory Tade (Inverness CT) right-footed from left side of penalty area (6 yards), missed left. Goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

16:21

Attacking throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

16:16

Attacking throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

15:30

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

15:26

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

14:30

Goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

12:41

Defending throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

11:11

Lee Croft (St Johnstone) caught offside. Free kick taken left-footed by Roman Golobart (Inverness CT) from own half, passed.

11:06

Defending throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

10:10

Defending throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

9:49

Attacking throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

9:23

Foul by Gregory Tade (Inverness CT) on Frazer Wright (St Johnstone). Free kick taken right-footed by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone) from own half, resulting in open play.

8:59

Attacking throw-in by Thomas Piermayr (Inverness CT).

7:56

Attacking throw-in by Alan Maybury (St Johnstone).

7:02

Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by Liam Craig (St Johnstone) to far post, clearance by Roman Golobart (Inverness CT).

6:46

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

5:44

Defending throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

2:59

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) on David MacKay (St Johnstone). Free kick taken right-footed by David MacKay (St Johnstone) from own half, resulting in open play.

2:26

Goal kick taken long by Alan Mannus (St Johnstone).

1:44

Foul by Francisco Sandaza (St Johnstone) on Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT). Free kick taken right-footed by Jonny Tuffey (Inverness CT) from own half, resulting in open play.

1:09

Foul by Richie Foran (Inverness CT) on Chris Millar (St Johnstone). Free kick taken right-footed by David MacKay (St Johnstone) from own half, resulting in open play.

0:24

Defending throw-in by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

0:10

Attacking throw-in by David MacKay (St Johnstone).

0:00

The ref blows the whistle to start the match.

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