Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic2St JohnstoneSt Johnstone0

Celtic 2-0 St Johnstone: Giakoumakis nets on first start

By Martin WattBBC Scotland
Georgios Giakoumakis opened his Celtic scoring account in the first half
Giorgios Giakoumakis opened his Celtic scoring account in the first half

Giorgios Giakoumakis revelled in the "amazing feeling" of his first Celtic goal as Ange Postecoglou's men overcame stubborn St Johnstone for a fourth straight win.

The Greece striker marked his first start with the opener and Celtic finally made sure of a deserved home victory with Josip Juranovic's penalty.

Postecoglou's side stay fourth in the Scottish Premiership and are four points behind leaders Rangers, who returned to the top with Sunday's win at St Mirren.

St Johnstone's second successive defeat drops last season's cup double winners to 10th, two points above second-bottom Dundee.

"It's an amazing feeling and something I was missing so much. For sure it will help my confidence," said Giakoumakis, a summer signing from Dutch club VVV Venlo.

"I am not a patient guy, so it was a bit difficult waiting to regain fitness. But I worked hard and I'm getting fitter day by day."

Giakoumakis was unleashed from the start after impressing in the Europa League win over Ferencvaros, his third outing off the bench.

But the 26-year-old and Celtic were superbly marshalled by St Johnstone until a lapse from Callum Booth undid all the visitors' diligent defending.

Juranovic's hopeful shot from distance took a looping deflection into the box, where Booth missed his attempted clearance, allowing Anthony Ralston to square for Giakoumakis to volley past Zander Clark.

It brought relief for the hosts and dejection for St Johnstone, who had welcomed back defensive lynchpin Liam Gordon from injury for a first appearance since August.

Bar a Callum McGregor drive stopped by Clark's outstretched leg, the hosts had struggled to penetrate until Giakoumakis struck.

Kyogo Furushashi, deployed wide right to accommodate the Greek forward in the central striker role, was a peripheral presence but Jota on the opposite flank was Celtic's liveliest performer.

St Johnstone came out with fresh impetus after the break, Jamie McCart heading over from a corner and Cammy MacPherson slicing high and wide.

Celtic quickly reasserted control, and McGregor had a drive deflected inches wide, but the hosts were restricted to few clear-cut chances until the closing stages.

The clinching goal arrived when Jota and Kyogo combined and the Japan forward - moved centrally after Giakoumakas went off - was caught by Gordon just inside the box. Juranovic sent Clark the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Tom Rogic and McGregor had drives batted away by Clark, either side of a shot off the post by substitute Mikey Johnston, as St Johnstone avoided further damage.

Man of the match - Jota

The on-loan Benfica winger's case for a permanent Celtic stay grows stronger by the week
The on-loan Benfica winger's case for a permanent Celtic stay grows stronger by the week

What did we learn?

Celtic have their key men back and are continuing to build momentum after a chaotic start to Ange Postecoglou's tenure.

Giakoumakis' goal will bolster the striker's confidence as he strives for full fitness, and Croatia defender Juranovic showed his quality after a four-game injury absence.

While Celtic have now won three league matches in a row, St Johnstone have suffered three three defeats and netted just one goal in four.

Davidson's side will rue the defensive lapses at both goals, but were solid for the most part while lacking threat at the other end.

Gordon's return to the heart of defence offers hope of a revival, with three of the Perth men's next four league fixtures at home.

What did they say?

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou: "It was a game where you know you're not going to get a lot of space in and around the penalty box and they're never going to open up.

"It was important we maintained our discipline, moved the ball around and were clinical when the chance came. We didn't allow St Johnstone to be a threat, and we could have scored a couple more at the end."

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: "Callum Booth misjudged it. It's not like him. It was a long-range shot and if we deal with that, then we don't concede.

"I am not blaming Callum. I don't think Celtic had many chances in the first half but we got punished then the game becomes a little bit harder for us."

What's next?

Both sides are in Premiership action against Edinburgh opposition on Wednesday night (19:45 BST), with Celtic away to Hibernian and St Johnstone hosting Hearts.

Player of the match

JotaJota

with an average of 8.02

Celtic

  1. Squad number17Player nameJota
    Average rating

    8.02

  2. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor
    Average rating

    7.77

  3. Squad number7Player nameGiakoumakis
    Average rating

    7.69

  4. Squad number88Player nameJuranovic
    Average rating

    7.59

  5. Squad number20Player nameCarter-Vickers
    Average rating

    7.53

  6. Squad number18Player nameRogic
    Average rating

    7.51

  7. Squad number8Player nameFuruhashi
    Average rating

    7.47

  8. Squad number4Player nameStarfelt
    Average rating

    7.30

  9. Squad number56Player nameRalston
    Average rating

    7.29

  10. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull
    Average rating

    7.29

  11. Squad number19Player nameJohnston
    Average rating

    7.13

  12. Squad number15Player nameHart
    Average rating

    6.90

  13. Squad number11Player nameAbada
    Average rating

    6.46

  14. Squad number10Player nameAjeti
    Average rating

    6.33

St Johnstone

  1. Squad number18Player nameMacPherson
    Average rating

    7.23

  2. Squad number1Player nameClark
    Average rating

    7.03

  3. Squad number4Player nameMcCart
    Average rating

    6.13

  4. Squad number10Player nameWotherspoon
    Average rating

    5.96

  5. Squad number2Player nameBrown
    Average rating

    5.86

  6. Squad number13Player nameBryson
    Average rating

    5.83

  7. Squad number21Player nameCrawford
    Average rating

    5.64

  8. Squad number14Player nameMiddleton
    Average rating

    5.62

  9. Squad number6Player nameGordon
    Average rating

    5.60

  10. Squad number24Player nameBooth
    Average rating

    5.55

  11. Squad number7Player nameMay
    Average rating

    5.16

  12. Squad number9Player nameKane
    Average rating

    5.07

  13. Squad number17Player nameVertainen
    Average rating

    4.43

  14. Squad number25Player nameEfe Ambrose
    Average rating

    4.30

Line-ups

Celtic

Formation 4-3-3

  • 15Hart
  • 56Ralston
  • 20Carter-VickersBooked at 77mins
  • 4Starfelt
  • 88Juranovic
  • 18Rogic
  • 42McGregor
  • 14Turnbull
  • 8FuruhashiSubstituted forAbadaat 81'minutes
  • 7GiakoumakisSubstituted forJohnstonat 61'minutes
  • 17Neves FilipeSubstituted forAjetiat 86'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Bitton
  • 10Ajeti
  • 11Abada
  • 19Johnston
  • 29Bain
  • 54Montgomery
  • 57Welsh

St Johnstone

Formation 3-4-3

  • 1Clark
  • 25AmbroseBooked at 79mins
  • 6GordonBooked at 79mins
  • 4McCart
  • 2Brown
  • 18MacPhersonBooked at 29mins
  • 13BrysonBooked at 55mins
  • 24Booth
  • 14MiddletonSubstituted forCrawfordat 63'minutes
  • 9KaneBooked at 77minsSubstituted forVertainenat 85'minutes
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forMayat 70'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Devine
  • 7May
  • 12Parish
  • 16Muller
  • 17Vertainen
  • 21Crawford
  • 26Craig
Referee:
Nick Walsh

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamSt Johnstone
Possession
Home79%
Away21%
Shots
Home20
Away4
Shots on Target
Home5
Away0
Corners
Home7
Away3
Fouls
Home6
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Celtic 2, St. Johnstone 0.

  2. Full Time

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

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Josip Juranovic (Celtic) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Tomas Rogic.

  4. Post update

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

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Michael Johnston (Celtic) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Josip Juranovic.

  6. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Cameron Carter-Vickers.

  7. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Stevie May (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cameron MacPherson.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Liel Abada (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Albian Ajeti.

  9. Post update

    Michael Johnston (Celtic) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by David Turnbull.

  10. Post update

    Dangerous play by Carl Starfelt (Celtic).

  11. Post update

    Eetu Vertainen (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Albian Ajeti replaces Jota.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, St. Johnstone. Eetu Vertainen replaces Christopher Kane.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic) header from very close range misses to the right. Assisted by David Turnbull with a cross following a corner.

  15. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Callum Booth.

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Anthony Ralston (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jota with a cross following a corner.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Zander Clark.

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Michael Johnston (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jota.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Liel Abada replaces Kyogo Furuhashi.

  20. Post update

    Goal! Celtic 2, St. Johnstone 0. Josip Juranovic (Celtic) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

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