Match ends, St. Johnstone 0, Celtic 3.
St Johnstone 0-3 Celtic
Celtic got their Scottish Premiership title defence off to a winning start with victory over St Johnstone.
Anthony Stokes opened the scoring with an assured finish from a tight angle after a defensive error by Steven Anderson.
And, a penalty from Nir Biton and strike by Callum McGregor were enough to ensure they took all three points.
St Johnstone felt aggrieved when Dave Mackay was not awarded a penalty, with the captain later sent off in the incident that led to Biton's spot-kick.
Mackay went down after a challenge by Virgil van Dijk in the box when the score was 1-0.
And, later, the right-back was dismissed for a challenge on Derk Boerrigter, though replays suggested there had been little contact.
The result means Ronny Deila's men look to Saturday's visit of early league leaders Dundee United with renewed vigour as they aim to stamp their authority on the division from the outset.
After a far from ideal introduction to his new club, courtesy of the ongoing controversy surrounding their Champions League tie against Legia Warsaw and the below-par performances that preceded the off-the-field drama, the man in the visiting dugout needed nothing less than a victory in his first domestic outing.
With players such as Fraser Forster having exited during the summer, the onus was on this crop - which included the England international's replacement, Craig Gordon - to produce the type of performance that would instil confidence in the new regime.
They started brightly, with Emilio Izaguirre and Kris Commons - making his 100th appearance - looking lively.
And could have taken the lead when neat play from Commons allowed James Forrest to find space, but he could only drag his shot wide.
The Perth men - who took to the pitch on the back of an opening day win against Ross County - were largely penned in during the opening exchanges and struggled to make an impression.
That was until they came close, against the run of play, when Steven MacLean hammered in a shot from the edge of the box that stung the palms of Gordon.
Stokes had Celtic's best chance of the first half when his free-kick went narrowly wide.
After the break, St Johnstone's Michael O'Halloran fired an effort that cannoned off team-mate MacLean and went inches past Gordon's right-hand post.
Having kept their opponents at bay for so long, the hosts caused their own undoing when Anderson dwelt on the ball and Commons was able to send Stokes through.
The striker then rounded Alan Mannus and rolled the ball into the net.
Saints did not let their heads go down, and Mackay ventured into the Celtic area, only to be closed down by Van Dijk. However, referee John Beaton allowed play to go on after the home fans shouted for a foul.
And Mackay's night went from bad to worse when he was adjudged to have tripped substitute Boerrigter and was dismissed by Beaton.
Biton converted the resulting penalty confidently to double the visitors' lead.
Dutchman Boerrigter, who had earlier threatened with a venomous free-kick that looked destined for the target but for a solid Mannus save, was causing problems with his pace and the stretched home backline lost a third late on.
After a flowing move, McGregor added to the tally with a fizzing shot that squirmed under Mannus and rolled over the line.
- 2MackayBooked at 75mins
- 24B Easton
- 16CaddisSubstituted forWotherspoonat 45'minutesBooked at 69mins
- 8McDonaldSubstituted forMillerat 78'minutes
- 29O'HalloranSubstituted forMorganat 60'minutes
- 5van Dijk
- 49ForrestSubstituted forBoerrigterat 58'minutes
- 15CommonsSubstituted forBergetat 66'minutes
- 25JohansenBooked at 51mins
- 10StokesSubstituted forKayalat 73'minutes
- John Beaton
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 0, Celtic 3.
Attempt saved. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) header from very close range is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Steven Anderson.
Brian Easton (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jo Inge Berget (Celtic).
Attempt missed. Derk Boerrigter (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Alan Mannus.
Attempt saved. Callum McGregor (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Foul by Chris Millar (St. Johnstone).
Stefan Johansen (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Gary Miller.
Goal! St. Johnstone 0, Celtic 3. Callum McGregor (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Adam Matthews.
Attempt missed. Callum McGregor (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Steven Anderson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Celtic).
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Brian Easton.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Tam Scobbie.
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Gary Miller replaces Gary McDonald.
Attempt missed. Jo Inge Berget (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.
Goal! St. Johnstone 0, Celtic 2. Nir Biton (Celtic) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the high centre of the goal.
David Mackay (St. Johnstone) is shown the red card for a bad foul.
Penalty conceded by David Mackay (St. Johnstone) after a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty Celtic. Derk Boerrigter draws a foul in the penalty area.
Substitution, Celtic. Beram Kayal replaces Anthony Stokes.
Foul by Brian Easton (St. Johnstone).
Callum McGregor (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).
Attempt saved. Derk Boerrigter (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).
Jo Inge Berget (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Steven Anderson (St. Johnstone).
Nir Biton (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Celtic. Jo Inge Berget replaces Kris Commons.
Gary McDonald (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).
Attempt saved. Callum McGregor (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Tam Scobbie (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left following a set piece situation.