Match ends, St. Mirren 0, Celtic 4.
Celtic "wanted to right the wrongs" of their shock loss to St Mirren by routing the same opposition on Wednesday, says manager Neil Lennon.
The Scottish champions avenged a 2-1 home reverse 12 days ago by trouncing St Mirren 4-0 in Paisley.
Celtic scored three goals in three second-half minutes to blow the hosts away and move within 18 points of Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers.
"That's far more like us," Lennon told BBC Radio Scotland.
"Almost like we were at this time last season - absolutely rampant. We're just looking for more of that now.
"Against a team in form, we've absolutely taken them apart. Once they got the second goal, they really turned it on, they didn't rest up. I think they wanted to put the wrongs of 12 days ago right."
Unsurprisingly, Jim Goodwin set his St Mirren side up just as he had 11 days earlier, when the victors left Celtic Park with a first triumph in Glasgow's East End for over three decades.
The hosts began sharply, fizzing the ball around with all of the belief of a team in super recent form. But they wilted suddenly with the loss of Jamie McGrath to injury and a fabulous Tom Rogic opener. McGrath left the pitch clutching a shoulder after a heavy fall, and a minute later, Celtic pounced.
Rogic collected the ball on the right flank from a Jonjoe Kenny throw-in, spun, swaggered his way into the box and cracked a vicious left-foot strike into the far bottom corner. It was vintage Rogic and in truth, Celtic have not seen enough of it from their rangy Australian this season.
After the opener, Celtic's grip on the game tightened. Kristoffer Ajer galloped around with menace, often steaming deep into Saints territory on great, lancing runs from the backline. When he wasn't marauding, the Norwegian's range of passing was tremendous.
Celtic threatened little before the break, but for all of St Mirren's endeavour, never looked in danger of conceding. Connolly scampered after a Kyle McAllister through-ball on the stroke of half-time, but on the stretch, prodded wide. In the final third, St Mirren's distribution deserted them.
After the interval, Celtic began to motor. Rogic was at the heart of their incisive play. The midfielder shaped to shoot from right of centre, but instead slid in Odsonne Edouard, who was denied by a wonderful point-blank Jak Alnwick stop.
The goalkeeper twice blocked David Turnbull from distance, then watched Edouard and Rogic both blast wide. St Mirren's shape, so entrenched and effective at Celtic Park, was concertinaed as the visitors sliced through them.
Young defender Stephen Welsh, an impressive performer since winning his place in the team, was carried off after having his foot trodden on by Jonathan Obika. The striker was yellow-carded for the late collision. Earlier, Callum McGregor ought to have been booked for a rash challenge on Ethan Erhahon, and Scott Brown was cautioned after clattering Ryan Flynn.
From all the thundering tackles, it was Flynn's rather delicate tug on the arm of Greg Taylor that proved most telling. The midfielder was caught out by Taylor's scurrying run into the box. Down went Taylor, up stepped Edouard, and the spot-kick was dispatched ruthlessly to Alnwick's right.
The Frenchman has now scored in each of his past five games, bagging six goals in total.
Rather than settling for what they had, Celtic continued to go through the gears, Edouard's strike the first of a remarkable three-minute treble. Ryan Christie caressed home a delightful left-foot chip from right of centre, then teed up David Turnbull to smack home from close range.
In the end, it was a rout. Celtic bared their teeth, an attacking relentlessness the champions have shown far too little of late.
Man of the match - Tom Rogic
What did we learn?
Goodwin will be irked that his players posed so few questions of Scott Bain in the Celtic goal. They lived with Celtic in the first half, but were run hopelessly ragged in the second. Still, their desire and persistence cannot be faulted.
For all of their many and pervasive troubles, a Celtic side possessing Edouard, Rogic, Christie and Turnbull is still a team with a vast attacking arsenal. Lennon will be just as content that his defence was largely unflustered.
What did they say?
St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin: "Really disappointed with the second half, we just weren't at the same level as in the first half. We looked as if we lost our way a bit, a lack of discipline in terms of the overall shape of the team and we were allowing Celtic too much space and time on the ball.
"Celtic were excellent and caused us a lot of problems, albeit we were still well in the game up until about 80 minutes. To lose those three goals was extremely disappointing."
Celtic manager Neil Lennon: "It's outstanding. It's probably the best we've played here for a long, long time. We weren't great first-half, unforced errors on the ball, scored a great goal from the best player on the pitch in Rogic.
"I had a few words with them at half-time and second-half they were unbelievable, and we could have won the game by a lot more when you think of the chances we created."
St Mirren make the trip north to struggling Aberdeen, who they eliminated from the League Cup earlier this season, on Saturday. Celtic travel to in-form St Johnstone a day later. The Perth side have lost only one of their past nine games.
- 21ConnollySubstituted forMacPhersonat 72'minutes
- 8FlynnBooked at 78minsSubstituted forErwinat 81'minutes
- 17McGrathSubstituted forMcAllisterat 15'minutes
- 9ObikaBooked at 64mins
- 57WelshSubstituted forDuffyat 68'minutes
- 18RogicBooked at 84minsSubstituted forGriffithsat 85'minutes
- 14TurnbullSubstituted forElyounoussiat 85'minutes
- 22EdouardSubstituted forKlimalaat 80'minutes
- 10AjetiSubstituted forChristieat 68'minutes
- Don Robertson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, St. Mirren 0, Celtic 4.
Foul by Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic).
Marcus Fraser (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Jonathan Obika (St. Mirren) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Kyle McAllister.
Attempt blocked. Lee Erwin (St. Mirren) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ilkay Durmus.
Attempt blocked. Ilkay Durmus (St. Mirren) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ethan Erhahon.
Foul by Patryk Klimala (Celtic).
Conor McCarthy (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, St. Mirren. Conceded by Scott Bain.
Attempt saved. Jonathan Obika (St. Mirren) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner.
Foul by Jonjoe Kenny (Celtic).
Ethan Erhahon (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Celtic. Leigh Griffiths replaces Tomas Rogic.
Substitution, Celtic. Mohamed Elyounoussi replaces David Turnbull.
Tomas Rogic (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Shane Duffy (Celtic).
Lee Erwin (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Goal! St. Mirren 0, Celtic 4. David Turnbull (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.
Goal! St. Mirren 0, Celtic 3. Ryan Christie (Celtic) left footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Tomas Rogic.