A hat-trick of fine finishes from Anthony Stokes gave Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic a comfortable victory over St Johnstone.

The striker fired home from outside the penalty area to give Neil Lennon's side the lead following a pass from Leigh Griffiths.

Captain Scott Brown's inventive chip was the catalyst for Stokes' second, the 25-year-old volleying into the net.

And a low drive completed an impressive day's work for Stokes and his team.

Kris Commons and Brown both hit the post in what was a dominant display from Lennon's men, who remain unbeaten in the league and re-establish a 21-point lead.

However, the visit of Saints came off the back of a Scottish Cup defeat by Aberdeen while the Perth side had been buoyed by their progress to that tournament's quarter-finals.

Indeed Saints enjoyed a positive opening spell and it was not until Griffiths headed wide from an offside position that Celtic began to impose themselves.

Griffiths was making his first start since joining from Wolves and played his part in the opening goal, laying on for Stokes to work the space and release a shot past Alan Mannus from 20 yards.

Anthony Stokes scores for Celtic against St Johnstone

Stokes took his tally of goals to 11 for the season

Commons was also in the mood for a goal and his superb 30-yard strike rattled the post.

Saints were restricted to long-range efforts as they toiled at the start of the second half with neither David Wotherspoon nor Brian Easton able to trouble Fraser Forster, who has not conceded a league goal since November.

Stokes may have been awarded a penalty following a challenge by Steven Anderson right on the edge of the box but referee Steven McLean awarded a free-kick that the striker fired off target.

However, he did not have to wait long for his second goal with Brown dinking the ball across the six-yard line for Stokes to control and blast home on the turn.

And Stokes netted again by beating Mannus at his near post from near the 18-yard line.

There was little respite for St Johnstone and Brown's low shot at the end of a driving run fizzed along the turf and came back off the post.

Forster then used his foot to secure a record-equalling clean sheet and spared the blushes of a team-mate in the process.

The goalkeeper, who matches former Aberdeen stopper Bobby Clark's run of 12 league shut-outs, blocked after Efe Ambrose had turned Nigel Hasselbaink's low cross towards goal.

With time running down, Griffiths found the net with a clipped shot past Mannus but the offside flag ensured a further wait for the Scotland international's first Celtic goal.

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (6)

Celtic

  • 01 Forster
  • 02 Matthews
  • 03 Izaguirre (Fisher - 21' )
  • 06 Biton
  • 04 Ambrose Emuobo
  • 05 van Dijk
  • 08 Brown (Boerrigter - 72' )
  • 25 Johansen
  • 10 Stokes (Pukki - 89' )
  • 15 Commons
  • 28 Griffiths

Substitutes

  • 09 Samaras
  • 11 Boerrigter
  • 17 Balde
  • 20 Pukki
  • 24 Zaluska
  • 34 O'Connell
  • 41 Fisher

St Johnstone

  • 01 Mannus
  • 02 Mackay
  • 24 Easton
  • 07 Millar (Hasselbaink - 61' )
  • 06 Anderson
  • 03 Scobbie
  • 22 Croft (O'Halloran - 67' )
  • 08 McDonald
  • 17 May
  • 10 Wotherspoon
  • 12 Dunne (Cregg - 78' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 04 Cregg
  • 11 Hasselbaink
  • 15 Banks
  • 19 Miller
  • 20 Brown
  • 25 Iwelumo
  • 29 O'Halloran
Ref: Steven McLean
Att: 45,239

Match Stats

Shots

19 3

On target

7 0

Corners

6 2

Fouls

6 9

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Celtic 3, St Johnstone 0.

90:00 +2:18 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Celtic 3, St Johnstone 0.

90:00 +1:45

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Darnell Fisher.

88:11 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Teemu Pukki replaces Anthony Stokes.

87:46

Attempt missed. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

87:21

Attempt saved. Darnell Fisher (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

81:42 Booking

Booking Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

81:29

Stefan Johansen (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:29

Foul by Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone).

80:40

Attempt missed. Nir Biton (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

78:29

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

77:59 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Patrick Cregg replaces James Dunne.

77:36

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

77:36

Foul by Gary McDonald (St Johnstone).

75:50

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

75:50

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).

74:58

Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

73:47

Attempt missed. Derk Boerrigter (Celtic) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left misses to the right.

72:29

Foul by Efe Ambrose (Celtic).

72:29

Michael O'Halloran (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

71:36 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Derk Boerrigter replaces Scott Brown.

71:10

Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

71:10

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).

70:22

Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

70:22

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).

69:03

Scott Brown (Celtic) hits the left post with a right footed shot from outside the box.

67:19

Attempt missed. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left from a direct free kick.

66:51

Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

66:51

Foul by James Dunne (St Johnstone).

66:34 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Michael O'Halloran replaces Lee Croft.

65:57 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Celtic 3, St Johnstone 0. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Kris Commons.

63:33 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Celtic 2, St Johnstone 0. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Scott Brown.

60:39

Attempt missed. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

60:05 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Nigel Hasselbaink replaces Chris Millar.

59:44

Attempt missed. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left from a direct free kick.

59:00

Anthony Stokes (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

58:49

Foul by Steven Anderson (St Johnstone).

57:13

Attempt missed. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

56:06

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Wotherspoon.

55:40

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by David Mackay.

55:04

Attempt missed. Gary McDonald (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

54:21

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Efe Ambrose.

54:01

Attempt blocked. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

53:25

Foul by Darnell Fisher (Celtic).

53:25

Lee Croft (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

49:48

Attempt missed. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

48:30

Attempt saved. Scott Brown (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

45:00

Second Half begins Celtic 1, St Johnstone 0.

45:00 +1:03 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Celtic 1, St Johnstone 0.

41:07

Attempt blocked. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

33:12

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Thomas Scobbie.

29:55

Nir Biton (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

29:55

Foul by Chris Millar (St Johnstone).

28:40

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Thomas Scobbie.

28:14

Attempt blocked. Nir Biton (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

25:33

Attempt saved. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

24:59

Kris Commons (Celtic) hits the bar with a left footed shot from outside the box.

24:01

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Brian Easton.

23:24

Stefan Johansen (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

23:24

Foul by Chris Millar (St Johnstone).

20:32 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Darnell Fisher replaces Emilio Izaguirre because of an injury.

15:20 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Celtic 1, St Johnstone 0. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Leigh Griffiths.

14:07

Foul by Nir Biton (Celtic).

14:07

James Dunne (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

6:33

Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

4:39

Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Celtic).

4:39

James Dunne (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

4:01

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).

4:01

Lee Croft (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

3:08

Foul by Nir Biton (Celtic).

3:08

Gary McDonald (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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