Celtic Park 19.45. Wednesday 30th January 2019.
Celtic 2-0 St Johnstone
Attendance: 54,563 allegedly
By Sunday 10/2 the Bhoys in Hoops will have played St.Johnstone 3 times in a triple header consisting of 2 league games and a tasty Scottish cup 5th round tie back at Paradise. Wednesday night would be the first tussle in dipping temperatures that would skin most men (But not the brave Broony). The Saints arrived at the East end with one purpose. Defend for their lives with two banks of defence and mostly 10 men behind the ball for 90 minutes.
Celtic entered this game with great enthusiasm and 14 consecutive wins at Celtic Park. Also the boosting of our squad seems to have injected a bit of freshness into our play which was redundant in the first half of the season. With the addition of Oli Burke and Timo Weah we couldn’t ask for much more as these two young lads have hit the ground running and provide more threat up top.
With the keeper on good form Bain kept his place and Burke was sent out to play the strikers role. Fans favourite Emilio Izzaguire is enjoying a run in the twilight of his career and he didn’t disappoint on this outing.
From the first whistle Celtic found it difficult to get any sort of rhythm going and the first real attack was when James Forrest was brought down on the edge of the opposition box in 13th minute. Christie stepped forward to hit the free but curled it round the post and into the side netting. St Johnstone were set up to crowd out the Hoops attacks which looked like there was a cluster of players in and around their own box and on numerous occasions the shots couldn’t make it through a forest of legs and the goalkeeper who made a few good saves. All this made for pretty drab viewing much to the frustration of a frost bitten home support.
Both teams made it in with stalemate and no goals at half time. Whatever was said in the dressing rooms at the interval it was the Rodgers rocket up the * that got the Bhoys up and going with a bit more menace to their play. Burke was being handled and hustled by the Saints centre pairing of Kerr and Shaunessy but that led to bringing the midfield into a more attacking force. Celtic were starting to be very industrious with their movement and play.
On the 53rd minute McGregor broke the deadlock. The Little Dictator rifled a low shot that blazed across the grass and into the back of Keeper Zander Clark’s net. 55 minutes and Lustig, who had set up the first, became the supplier with a nice ball to Christie. Ryan took a touch to move the ball into space and loop the ball over the keeper and into the top corner. Another beautiful goal and we don’t expect any less of the Bhoy as his star shines brighter.
Celtic completely dominated the game from start to finish and leaving the Saints punch drunk. This continued when Rodgers began introducing the subs. Edourd (67) for Burke, Weah (73) for Sinclair and Big Bitton replaced Ryan Christie. Weah and French Ed saw efforts saved by the Saints keeper. A point blank save from a pinpoint Sinclair header and Clark made another snap shot save from Calum McGregor. It should have been more but Celtic had to settle for just the two with a penalty claim waved away late on. Forrest had sent a cross into the box and Richard Foster with his arm raised, slid in to clearly handle the ball. We expect no better from officials.
Celtic and St Johnstone have two more rounds to go in this triple tussle. It will finish on 10th February back at Celtic Park for a place in next round of the cup. As for this game it gave us a 6 point lead with a far superior goal difference. A squad that is back to playing attractive football, new signings and The Broon signing up to lead his warriors for another two years. So troops “Here we go 10 in a row.”
Goals: McGregor 53 mins. Christie 55 mins.
MOTM: Callum McGregor