CELTIC turned in a five-star second-half performance to blow away 10-man St Mirren at the SMiSA Stadium to maintain their nine-point lead at the top of the Premiership.

St Mirren had gone ahead in the early stages as Greg Taylor was eventually penalised for a handball in the box following a VAR review, with Mark O’Hara getting his third goal against Celtic this season from the spot.

The dismissal of Charles Dunne though for a last-man foul on Kyogo proved hugely costly for Stephen Robinson’s men, and Celtic took full advantage after the interval.

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Goals from Jota, Alastair Johnston, Liel Abada, Matt O’Riley and Oh Hyeung-gyu sealed what was as comfortable win in the end after a hugely uncomfortable opening 45 minutes.

Here are five talking points from Paisley…

Ange Postecoglou’s SMiSA hex is over

Prior to this game, Celtic hadn’t only failed to win at the SMiSA under Postecoglou’s management, they hadn’t even scored a goal. And for long spells in the first half as Celtic returned to the scene of their only domestic defeat this season, it appeared as though it would be a case of déjà vu for the Australian and his team.

The champions fell behind early, then huffed and puffed to break down a St Mirren side who looked comfortable in their shape, and had it not been for a rush of blood to the head of Dunne, it could well have been another long afternoon in Paisley for Celtic.

When the floodgates opened though, it was quite the deluge…

VAR Call Number One

As far as the referee’s union are concerned, this match would be an example of how VAR has helped them to correct calls that otherwise would have been erroneous. Though quite how referee David Dickinson missed the handball from Celtic’s Taylor in the opening minutes in real time is a headscratcher. As far as the old handball standard goes, you might say award was cheap as chips, and the Celtic left-back could do little to avoid the ball in fairness to him.

Alex Grieve flicked it up off his outstretched right arm from close range, but it was a penalty by the letter of the handball law as it is now written.

O’Hara finished coolly low to Joe Hart’s right, and for a good while, St Mirren looked to be set on doing the double over Celtic at home this season. Those hopes disappeared up the tunnel with Dunne though…

VAR Call Number Two

Video assistant referee Andrew Dallas was called into action again before the break as St Mirren defender Dunne – who had been excellent to that point – undercooked an attempted pass back to Saints keeper Trevor Carson.

Kyogo darted in, Dunne panicked and put an arm on the striker’s shoulder, and the resultant red card for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity was inevitable.

The only point of contention was whether or not the incident had taken place inside or outside of the home area. Initially, the on-field decision was a penalty to Celtic, but as Aaron Mooy waited to take it, VAR intervened.

It was subsequently determined that the infringement had taken place a matter of inches outside of the box, and on reflection, that looked just about right. Celtic made a mess of the free-kick, and Saints made it to the interval with their lead intact, if not their entire complement of players.

There was another VAR call late on as Celtic substitute Oh was pulled back by Alex Gogic in the area, and again, the right decision was eventually made as the striker picked himself up to apply the icing on the cake for the visitors.

Much-needed goal for Jota

All wingers go through indifferent, even frustrating, patches of form. And despite his undoubted and abundant talents, there is no reason to think why Jota would be any different.

By his own high standards though, the Portuguese has been off colour over the past few weeks since a brilliant performance at Tannadice, and he was quiet as Celtic beat Rangers last week to life the League Cup at Hampden.

It looked for all the world that he would be having another off day here for almost an hour, with nothing much happening for him at all out on the right. He did burst through and force the only save of the first half from Carson as he latched onto a delicious Reo Hatate backheel, but despite seeing plenty of the ball, he was producing very little.

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At half-time, he could have had no complaints had he been substituted by manager Postecoglou. Instead, it was the equally ineffective Daizen Maeda who was hooked, with Abada coming on to the right and Jota shifting to the left, where he came alive.

His equalising goal probably won’t make his highlights reel, scrambling home at the back post from all of a few inches, but boy did both he and Celtic need it. From there, his team went from strength to strength, and he will be hoping he follows suit in the coming weeks to get back to his sparkling best.

Liel Abada pushing for starting chance

It is often said about Abada that his numbers are incredible in terms of his consistency in supplying goals and assists, and on this evidence, the only puzzle might be why his appearance stats don’t also measure up. Certainly in terms of starts.

He has begun only nine Premiership matches for Celtic this term, and he again climbed off the bench to turn this game in his side’s favour, providing a huge impact from the right.

He was involved in just about all of Celtic’s goals, got himself on the scoresheet as he drove into the box to slam low across Carson, and provided a lovely assist for O’Riley to get just his own second goal of the season.

With the form of Maeda indifferent at present, and Abada’s presence allowing Jota to operate from the left, the Israeli must have a claim to make the line-up for Wednesday’s match against Hearts.