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Celtic 2 St Mirren 0: Twenty-two and counting as men from Paisley continue to toil

THEre was a lot going on back in 1990.

Gary Hooper sends Celtic's second into the net	 Photograph: SNS
Gary Hooper sends Celtic's second into the net Photograph: SNS

Glasgow was revelling in its status as European city of culture, Germany was re-unified, Gazza wept buckets at the World Cup - and St Mirren beat Celtic 3-0 at Parkhead.

The Paisley side have not enjoyed a victory in the east end of Glasgow since and after just 15 minutes of this encounter the seeds of another defeat were sown. It's now 22 years and counting and there is a further significance to that number which won't make pleasant reading for yersterday's visiting fans. During Danny Lennon's 30-month stint in charge, the aggregate scoreline reads Celtic 22 St Mirren 0.

The hosts were never going to rack up that volume of goals in one sitting yesterday but they should have added four or five to the tally. Craig Samson, the St Mirren keeper, pulled off a series of fine saves while the home side had what manager Neil Lennon described as "two blatant penalties" waved aside.

It wasn't until Gary Hooper jabbed in a second goal with six minutes remaining that the points were sealed, but it was a just reward for Celtic's complete and utter dominance. This was the champions' first league win on their own turf since early October and helped forge a four-point lead at the top with a game in hand. "I'd still like to see us put teams away a bit earlier and if that comes in I think we'll be rampant," added a largely satisfied Lennon.

St Mirren, meanwhile, came looking for a point and left with nothing. Given the dismal record against Celtic, the wariness of their approach was perhaps understandable. "We came here with a gameplan and if we'd come away with a 0-0 it would have been a job well done," said the skipper, Jim Goodwin. "But to get beat 2-0 and not really contribute anything is disappointing. Celtic beat us 5-0 at home in the last game so that was in our minds. We know it's dull and boring but other teams have been successful playing this way and we tried to adopt it."

The visitors seemed to have a cast of thousands strung across the back line as they shaped up to repel the inevitable early assault but the defences were almost breached within the opening four minutes as the returning Victor Wanyama sent in a header that was bundled to safety by Samson.

Hooper then had a decent shout for a penalty on 14 minutes as St Mirren continued to creak. They would finally break just a few seconds later. Charlie Mulgrew hurled over a corner from the left and Wanyama eventually prodded the ball into the net after his initial header had been superbly blocked on the line by Samson.

After that Celtic, not for the first time this season, struggled to make any further inroads and St Mirren's dogged resistance proved to be a source of increasing frustration. Samaras twice came close, while a St Mirren foray into enemy territory was as rare as a week without a Kenny Shiels controversy but, as the half-time whistle sounded, they were still just a single goal down.

When the margin is that slender, there is always hope and Kenny McLean had an opportunity to bolster this sense of optimism just minutes after the resumption but, having twisted nicely on to his left foot, he thrashed his drive from the edge of the box.

Apart from a low shot from John McGinn, that was it as far as the threat went and Celtic swiftly took charge again. Samson saved superbly at point-blank range from Brown, Mikael Lustig had a thundering header against the bar and Mulgrew went close with a free-kick. The tin lid was finally put on proceedings in the 84th minute when Hooper pounced on a favourable ricochet to swivel and lash in from six yards.

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