Saturday 9th April 2022. K.O. 3pm
Celtic Park. Glasgow.
CELTIC 7-0 ST. JOHNSTONE
Scorers: Hatate (8)
Juranović (52 pen)
What a day, what a day. Seven up and a performance that was scintillating and an absolute joy to watch. To say The Hoops dismantled St Johnstone would be doing a disservice to this side Ange has built from scratch.
There was a carnival atmosphere outside and inside the stadium with the fans still buzzing with electricity after last week's win over rangers at Ibrox. Ange decided to stick with the starting 11 that had done a clinical job in pulling further away in the title race and it worked to a tee.
Celtic started at blistering pace and were 1-0 up in 7 minutes with a well worked goal. Rogic took a pass inside the box and laid it on to Greg Taylor, he looked up and fed it to Hatate also in the box. The Japanese midfielder made no mistake in burying it into the right corner of the net.
Only a minute later Giakoumakis rose to head into the path of Hatate and from 25 yards out he hit a clean strike, only for keeper Zander Clark to get down full stretch to parry wide. Rogic was next to break through two players and into the box but Clark was alert to save with his feet, Jota then stepped up but drove his strike over the bar.
Celtic were pinning St Johnstone back and leaving them like a punch drunk boxer ready to keel over. The passing and movement from the Bhoys was frightening with pace. It really was a case of how many goals we would get at this early stage of the game.
Goal number two arrived when a poor pass back by Calum Booth to his keeper was intercepted by Giakoumakis who made room for himself before tucking it away from a tight angle. 2-0 and the flood banks opened. Unfortunately in 26 minutes Giakoumakis pulled up with a thigh strain and was replaced by Abada and let’s hope it is nothing serious as he has hit the heights recently.
Celtic were shooting on sight and efforts by Maeda and Jota didn’t come off but a delicious pinpoint cross by Jota from the left saw Maeda in the right spot to glance a header past Zander Clark and it nestled in the corner. 3-0 Celtic with 36 minutes gone. Sublime. Maeda has crazy levels of energy as he chased every loose ball which was creating confusion in the Saints defence.
Matt O’Riley was introduced for the second half in place of Tom Rogic. Celtic got busy in the first minutes with Jota wriggling free to get a shot away but it deflected and his second bite saw it hit the side netting. A penalty was awarded to Celtic on 51 minutes when Maeda was bundled over in the box by Saints sub Sang.
It really should have been the third penalty as an earlier handball was waved away as was a sliding tackle that unfairly upended Maeda in the box. The penalty was taken by Juranović and he tucked it away with ease into the right corner and beyond the stretching Clark. 4-0 and the fans were on their feet with adoration.
Hatate was replaced minutes later for David Turnbull. It was nearly five when Liel Abada struck a wicked left foot volley that flew past the right post. Next was Juranović who saw his free kick just shave the post. The fifth arrived when a lovely passage of play saw Kyogo find Turnbull with a pass and he whipped in a beauty of a cross for Matt O’Riley to score with a diving header.
Three minutes later it was O’Riley again with number six. A great pass by Juranović to O’Riley in a congested box, he took a touch and rolled it into space before lashing home into the top left corner. It was too easy now as everyone was looking to get on the score sheet. Also pleasing to see the subs come on and slot in comfortably.
A double sub was made by Postecoglou on 74 minutes when he replaced Jota and McGregor with McCarthy and Kyogo with the latter receiving a thunderous applause and a roar of approval. His contribution saw the Wee man collect the ball on the halfway line and lifted it over into Maeda who was breaking fast. He caught the ball on his chest and directed it into the path of Abada who struck a stunning rocket into the net. 7-0.
There were other opportunities by Kyogo, Maeda and O’Riley but it was to finish at just the seven and by that stage the Saints players were begging for the full time whistle. It left the Bhoys 9 points ahead for 24 hours but the intent shown by the squad is testament to Big Ange and the self belief he has installed into these lads.
Up next is a testing Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden with rangers. They must be waiting with anticipation.
Watching Glasgow Celtic putting on a show.
MOTM: Celtic Team. They went at it from the first whistle until last and didn’t drop in levels. Every man in Hoops can be proud of their performance and hopefully it is prevalent until the seasons end.
CELTIC: Hart, Juranović, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, Rogic, McGregor, Hatate, Jota, Giakoumakis, Maeda. SUBS: Bitton, Kyogo, Abada, Turnbull, McCarthy, Ideguchi, Bain, O’Riley, Ralston. (4-3-3)
ST. JOHNSTONE: Clark, Rooney, Brown, Gordon, McCart, Booth, Davidson, Hallberg, Middleton, Crawford, Hendry. SUBS: Cleary, May, Parish, Gilmore, Mahon, Bair, McPherson, Sang, Butterfield. (5-3-2)
POSSESSION: Celtic 84% St. Johnstone 16%
SHOTS: Celtic 23 - 1 St. Johnstone
SHOTS ON TARGET: Celtic 10 - 0 St. Johnstone
PASSES: Celtic 968 - 184 St. Johnstone
COMPLETION: Celtic 92% St. Johnstone 53%