WITH no cinch Premiership matches being played next weekend due to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, Celtic were keen to avoid a slip-up against St Johnstone in Perth today and restore their nine point advantage over Rangers.

They duly did both; Ange Postecoglou’s team cruised to a comfortable 4-1 win over Callum Davidson’s side at McDiarmid Park that extended their unbeaten domestic run to 21 and edged them a little closer to another Scottish title.

An Andrew Considine own goal and Kyogo Furuhashi and Aaron Mooy strikes in the first-half effectively wrapped up another three points for the visitors by half-time. Drey Wright pulled one back for the hosts with a stunning long-range effort. But substitute David Turnbull netted in injury-time to round off a satisfying afternoon for the leaders.

Here are five talking points from the Premiership encounter.


Celtic fans have been heartened to learn the Parkhead club are in talks with Joe Hart, Mooy and Turnbull about extensions to their current deals. All three men have been excellent for the Scottish champions this season. Mooy in particular is enjoying a rich vein of form.

That continued in Perth today. The Australian internationalist was involved in the build-up to the opening two goals and then scored the third himself. His strike was exquisite. He controlled a chip from Jota before dinking over the head of St Johnstone goalkeeper Remi Matthews.

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The 32-year-old midfielder failed to net once in his first 23 appearances after joining the Glasgow side on a free transfer in the summer. He has now been on target six times in nine outings. Three of those came from the penalty spot. Still, his vastly-improved strike rate underlines just how influential he has become.

Mooy barely put a foot wrong all afternoon. He is comfortable in possession, distributes the ball intelligently and is a physical presence in the middle of the park. The 57-timers capped footballer is under contract until 2025. But if Celtic can persuade him to commit his future to them beyond that it will increase their chances of long-term success.    


There are few players with a chance of finishing the season as the Premiership’s top scorer. Bojan Miovski of Aberdeen took his tally to 14 in the 3-1 triumph over Motherwell at Pittodrie yesterday. Lawrence Shankland moved onto the 17 mark as Hearts defeated Dundee United by the same scoreline at Tynecastle.

However, it will be a major surprise if anyone plunders more than Furuhashi this term. The Japanese internationalist has got 19 goals to his name in the league so far and 22 overall. He has now found the net on 11 occasions in his last 11 outings. There is currently no better finisher in the top flight than the £4.6m signing.

Oh Hyeon-gyu came on for Furuhashi in the second-half. The South Korean won a free-kick for Celtic in a dangerous area just outside the St Johnstone penalty box and earned the hapless Considine a red card from referee David Dickinson. His fellow replacement Turnbull duly took advantage of the set piece to add the finishing touch to a one-sided triumph.


Davidson switched from a back three to a back four and brought in Tony Gallacher at left back in the absence of Celtic loanee Adam Montgomery. It was only the former Liverpool kid’s second start and fourth appearance of the season.

His lack of game time showed when Daizen Maeda burst forward, cut inside him and supplied Mooy before the opening goal.  He was also unable to prevent Jota from picking out Furuhashi before the second as well. It was a tough task coming back in after a month out and having to shackle two of the best wide men in the country.

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But Gallacher and his team mates, despite Nicky Clark not being involved., certainly asked questions of their rivals in the final third. Wright ended Celtic’s run of six games without conceding a goal when he beat Hart from fully 25 yards out in the first-half. Not keeping a clean sheet was the only negative for the league leaders.

Could Hart got a hand to the St Johnstone midfielder’s dipping attempt and his view was blocked by Stevie May. But could the goalkeeper have done better? He will be disappointed to be beaten in such a manner and eager to atone for his lapse in concentration in the cup game against St Mirren on Saturday.  


Davidson admitted before kick-off that the McDiarmid Park playing surface is “not the easiest to play on” and his opposite number Postecoglou confessed “it is something we will have to adjust to”. The park cut up badly from kick-off and made it difficult for both sides to get the ball down and play.

Both Celtic and St Johnstone deserve credit for the entertain passages of play they produced during the course of the 90 minutes. But players need good conditions underfoot to entertain supporters and at the moment they are fighting a pitch battle every time they take to the field.


This loss leaves St Johnstone just seven points ahead of Dundee United and Motherwell at the bottom of the Premiership with 13 games remaining. They played well in spells this afternoon and put the Celtic defence under pressure on several occasions. But they need to start recording victories to avoid being sucked into a relegation dogfight.

Their next match is against United at Tannadice in 13 days’ time. Beating their local rivals will go a long way towards securing their top flight safety. They are performing far better than a few of the teams around them, but they have work to do.