Celtic restored their nine-point Premiership lead over Rangers with a routine 4-1 home win over St Johnstone.

Ange Postecoglou's side found their scoring touch with aplomb to ensure they end 2022 with a near-perfect record at Celtic Park.

Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate each helped themselves to a double apiece, while Drey Wright scored a second-half consolation for the visitors.

Celtic were dominant throughout, scoring three without reply before the interval. But there was late controversy as David Turnbull was shown a red card for a challenge on Saints keeper Remi Matthews after a lengthy check from VAR.

However, there was little else to disturb the home fans' festive cheer as their team waltzed to another league victory, their 17th from 18 outings this term.

Here are five talking points from Celtic Park.

A stroll for Celtic

They don't come much more comfortable than this, even for the reigning champions. Amid a bustling festive schedule, it must be rather comforting for Postecoglou to have his side essentially wrap up the points within 20 minutes.

Stevie May spurned a decent early chance for Saints and you immediately felt they'd be made to pay before long. And so it proved, with two quickfire goals essentially putting the game to bed, and a third before the interval confirming it.

Another two goals for Kyogo further quietens some, admittedly minor, disquiet about his place in the team as he continues to be preferred to Giorgos Giakoumakis, himself linked with a departure in January. Kyogo may miss the odd chance, as all strikers do, but Celtic create so many of them it's unlikely Postecoglou will ever harbour any concerns about his strike rate.

The result restores Celtic's nine point lead at the top of the Premiership, refusing to feel even the slightest hint of heat from Rangers clawing three points back before they'd kicked a ball on the last three match days. New Ibrox boss Michael Beale will have hoped to, at least, make the slightest of dents in their rivals' advantage, but they've been offered absolutely no encouragement by a relentless Celtic.

Hatate excels at right-back

You may just remember some pre-transfer chat last January about Reo Hatate's versatility, but so outstanding has he been in midfield for Celtic, it's difficult to picture him playing anywhere else. But Postecoglou sprung a surprise on his team sheet in shifting the Japanese to right-back and it paid rapid dividends.

Hatate hadn't been overly involved in the opening 15 minutes, with much of Celtic's play coming down the left. But he arrived right on cue after St Johnstone had cleared Daizen Maeda's initial cross, keeping his cool to fire home the opener via a deflection off Andrew Considine. It set the tone for another comfortable afternoon for the champions, and marked the birth of yet another option for Postecoglou to call upon when needed. Such is the versatility of Celtic's inverted full-back system, Hatate often found himself cutting inside anyway, and that freedom allowed him to ghost into the box and help himself to a well-taken second.

Late VAR controversy

We were meandering towards a low-key conclusion when there was a sudden, unexpected late intervention from VAR. Turnbull was originally booked for a challenge on Matthews in the box, the Saints keeper being left grounded after a collision with the Celtic midfielder.

But referee Kevin Clancy, as Matthews received treatment, was called over to the pitchside monitor and, if you've been paying attention to VAR's eccentrities, it usually only results in one outcome.

This was no exception as Clancy rescinded the yellow and brandished a red at a thoroughly bemused Turnbull. The decision sparked considerable anger inside Celtic Park, the culmination of an afternoon of frustration with the technology.

It had been involved in checking all but one of the five goals on the day, each one seemingly taking an eternity.

Imperious home record

There's no better illustration of Celtic's unrelenting domestic dominance than a home record that shows just two points dropped in all of 2022. The only blot on their Parkhead copybook this year, if you can even really call it that, was a 1-1 draw with Rangers all the way back in April, one which bore little significance given the league was all-but wrapped up by then anyway.

It underlines the scale of the task for teams coming to Glasgow's east end and likely confers a considerable psychological advantage before the players have even emerged from the tunnel. At no point this afternoon did it feel as though St Johnstone had any real belief they could break Celtic's run, and that was quickly reflected in a scoreline that in no way flattered the home side.

Rock and a hard place

Sparked by Jim Goodwin's ultra-defensive approach when Celtic visited Pittodrie last week, there's been some debate around how exactly Premiership sides should approach these fixtures. Should you batten down the hatches, or is worth throwing caution to the wind in search of a famous result?

A conundrum for managers, certainly. But there's a case for arguing it's becoming a moot point anyway, since nobody seems able to seriously trouble Celtic no matter what they do (I exclude you this season, Stephen Robinson).

The gulf between Postecoglou's team and most of the rest is so vast, there are seemingly no 'good' options at present, only less bad ones. As it happens, St Johnstone return to Perth having suffered the worst of both worlds.

Saints were hardly expansive in their approach, packing bodies behind the ball, but they ended up taking a battering anyway. Their only moment of note on the day was Wright's consolation when their cause was already long lost.