Scottish Premiership
St Mirren0Celtic2

St Mirren 0-2 Celtic: Neil Lennon's side close in on Premiership title

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Highlights: St Mirren 0-2 Celtic

Celtic took a step closer to retaining the Scottish Premiership title as they edged to a win over relegation-threatened St Mirren in Paisley.

If Neil Lennon's side beat Livingston on Saturday, Rangers would need at least a point at Motherwell the next day to keep the title race alive.

Timothy Weah's header crashed off the bar and bounced in to open the scoring - his fourth goal since signing.

Olivier Ntcham had a penalty saved but Ryan Christie found a late second.

With Rangers beating Hearts at Ibrox, the gap at the top remains at 13 points with just six games left to play.

Defeats for Hamilton and Dundee leave St Mirren's position unchanged in second-bottom as they fight to avoid the drop.

One hand on the title

St Mirren manager Oran Kearney made six changes from the weekend win over Dundee, his rationale being that his side needed to be lively if they were to cause Celtic problems. And they needed that energy to chase the game after falling behind early.

Weah got up highest to head the ball off the bar and it bounced down before being clawed away by Vaclav Hladky. The St Mirren players were adamant it had not crossed the line, but referee Don Robertson was well positioned and awarded the goal.

Callum McGregor was in inspired form in midfield, at the centre of everything for the visitors. Minutes before the goal his through ball sent Kristoffer Ajer clear in the box, with the Norwegian defender blasting over. Then he picked out Oliver Burke who had just the goalkeeper to beat but horribly skewed his shot wide.

It was one-way traffic and St Mirren needed something to light a fuse under them. They got it when James Kellermann was penalised for handball in the box, awkwardly missing a header and the ball striking his flailing arm. His goalkeeper Hladky guessed correctly to push away Ntcham's spot-kick, before the Frenchman lobbed the rebound off the bar.

It was Celtic's fifth penalty miss of the season, and kept the game alive as the home side attempted to improve on just one win in 32 attempts against the league leaders.

However, Kearney would have been furious at how easily Burke was able to get his shot away despite the attention of three defenders. Anton Ferdinand's challenge in particular was half-hearted. But Hladky again bailed out a team-mate by deflecting the effort with his legs.

St Mirren briefly threatened an equaliser. Cody Cooke picked up a loose ball in midfield and hit a long-range shot that goalkeeper Scott Bain had to be at full-stretch for to push wide.

But the introductions of Christie and Odsonne Edouard breathed new life into Celtic, and the former clipped in a second goal via a slight deflection off a defender.

The game paused temporarily with Hladky somewhat spooked by an missile thrown from the Celtic end. When the game restarted, Paul McGinn had a shot cleared off the line as St Mirren went forward with a vengeance, but it was a short flurry with Celtic comfortably closing in on eight league titles in a row.

Ryan Christie, second right, netted on his comeback from injury
Ryan Christie, second right, netted on his comeback from injury

'St Mirren had opportunities' - analysis

Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on BBC Sportsound

St Mirren will be disappointed because they had opportunities. And you've got to take your opportunities. They came into the game in the second half. Duckens Nazon will be disappointed after missing a couple of big chances.

'Complacency crept in' - reaction

St Mirren manager Oran Kearney: "You try and stay in the game for as long as possible. We had two or three good chances when it was 1-0. On nights like this, it's important to take them.

"We'd have liked to take something from the game but to come out all even in the league is good for us."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: "A little bit of complacency crept in. Against any opposition it's always difficult when it's 1-0 but after the second goal we could sit back and relax.

"But it's another step towards the title. I was delighted with the players that came on who all put in very solid performances."

Line-ups

St Mirren

  • 1Hladky
  • 15Baird
  • 35Ferdinand
  • 16Popescu
  • 33CorbuBooked at 38mins
  • 4McGinnSubstituted forLyonsat 64'minutes
  • 28MacPherson
  • 3Muzek
  • 17KellermanSubstituted forMcGinnat 76'minutes
  • 20Cooke
  • 9NazonSubstituted forJacksonat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2McGinn
  • 10Dreyer
  • 11Jackson
  • 14Lyons
  • 18Mullen
  • 23McAllister
  • 26Holmes

Celtic

  • 29Bain
  • 23LustigSubstituted forBenkovicat 70'minutes
  • 5SimunovicBooked at 84mins
  • 35AjerBooked at 70mins
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 8Brown
  • 21NtchamSubstituted forChristieat 63'minutes
  • 49Forrest
  • 42McGregor
  • 30WeahSubstituted forEdouardat 78'minutes
  • 25Burke

Substitutes

  • 2Toljan
  • 11Sinclair
  • 17Christie
  • 18Rogic
  • 22Edouard
  • 24de Vries
  • 32Benkovic
Referee:
Don Robertson
Attendance:
6,597

Match Stats

Home TeamSt MirrenAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home45%
Away55%
Shots
Home4
Away18
Shots on Target
Home1
Away6
Corners
Home1
Away2
Fouls
Home10
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, St. Mirren 0, Celtic 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St. Mirren 0, Celtic 2.

Attempt blocked. Oliver Burke (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Foul by Laurentiu Corbu (St. Mirren).

Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Jack Baird.

Attempt missed. Cameron MacPherson (St. Mirren) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

Attempt blocked. Paul McGinn (St. Mirren) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Václav Hladky (St. Mirren) because of an injury.

Goal!

Goal! St. Mirren 0, Celtic 2. Ryan Christie (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Callum McGregor.

Booking

Jozo Simunovic (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Simeon Jackson (St. Mirren) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Jozo Simunovic (Celtic).

Cody Cooke (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Filip Benkovic (Celtic).

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Odsonne Edouard replaces Timothy Weah.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Mirren. Paul McGinn replaces Jim Kellerman.

Attempt missed. Timothy Weah (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

Attempt missed. Ryan Christie (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Mirren. Simeon Jackson replaces Duckens Nazon.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Filip Benkovic replaces Mikael Lustig.

Booking

Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Cody Cooke (St. Mirren) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic).

Attempt missed. Timothy Weah (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is too high.

Attempt saved. Oliver Burke (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Mirren. Brad Lyons replaces Stephen McGinn.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Ryan Christie replaces Olivier Ntcham.

Attempt missed. Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Jim Kellerman (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

Foul by Jim Kellerman (St. Mirren).

Jozo Simunovic (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Cody Cooke (St. Mirren) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Jozo Simunovic (Celtic).

Attempt missed. Duckens Nazon (St. Mirren) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left following a corner.

Corner, St. Mirren. Conceded by Scott Bain.

Attempt saved. Cody Cooke (St. Mirren) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Attempt saved. Callum McGregor (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic32244471175476
2Rangers32189570244663
3Kilmarnock321510744281655
4Aberdeen32167950371355
5Hearts32155123739-250
6Hibernian321310947331449
7St Johnstone32135143242-1044
8Motherwell32134153744-743
9Livingston32118133533241
10Hamilton3273222068-4824
11St Mirren3255222360-3720
12Dundee3246222566-4118
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