- The big team news for the visit to Perth was the inclusion of a midfield centre three of McGregor, Ntcham and Turnbull for the first time at the start of a game. Captain Brown was rested after a busy early schedule and a tough away European game in midweek, coupled with a looming ban should he pick up a booking - a matter that would keep him out of the Glasgow derby in two weeks time.
The champions could consider themselves unlucky not to receive a penalty in the first 5 minutes when Duffy was clearly fouled by having his shirt tugged as a corner was swung in to the danger area.
Ntcham took an early booking for an innocuous challenge on Fotheringham in a sort of running wrestling match between the players.
The first 20 minutes were a scrappy affair punctuated by a series of free kicks and very little flowing play. Wotherspoon found himself in the book for a very late grapple on El Hamed.
Duffy had a header on target from another corner but it was a tame effort to be honest. St Johnstone had an effort from Wotherspoon that Duffy managed to clear after Barkas was a little lost, followed by a chance for a long range shot at the other end by Turnbull, after great trickery by Frimpong.
El Hamed crossed well from the right which fell at the other side of the box to Taylor. The left backs pass into the path looked inviting but the captain for the day let his shot drift past the keepers left hand post for a by kick.
After 30 minutes of resolute defending the St Johnstone midfield and defence started to look a little more weary and there were spells of nice quick, slick passing moves amongst the Celtic midfield.
St Johnstone to their credit tried to open up slightly themselves and created a chance after good link up between Conway and Tanzer. Celtic defended resolutely but it showed that the home team were willing to push forward in spells.
In the minutes leading up to the break El Hamed strode forward and passed to Frimpong. The little wing backs teasing ball drifted a little too far forward and missed everyone in the box. This was closely followed by an effort from Edouard in a packed penalty area that was taken by the goalie. Wotherspoon had a looping effort drift over as he tried to lob Barkas from 25 yards or so.
The breakthrough almost came for the home team. Craig Conway really had to score as a ball was clipped in from the left by Wotherspoon which completely opened the Celtic defence. Conway went for pace and hammered the opportunity off the post much to the relief of Barkas and the Celtic defence.
With 5 minutes of the first half gone McNamara gave away a corner after good pressure from Taylor. The ball in dropped to McGregor but it came to nought.
McGregor ran strongly down the left and over to Turnbull who fluffed the header which was recycled by Frimpong over to Taylor and another effort that led to a corner.
How Murray Davidson was not booked for a cynical foul on McGregor is beyond me.
Klimala and Christie came on for Edouard and Turnbull just short of the hour mark. Both had been quiet to be fair.
Frimpong did well down the left and played the ball back to Ntcham. a teasing ball to the front post was met by the good movement of Kilmala and his first time volley slipped past the keepers right hand post.
Wotherspoon was replaced by O'Halloran for St Johnstone. Davidson did see yellow with a studs up challenge on Elyounoussi which really should have seen him see red after his earlier unpunished challenge on McGregor.
With 15 minutes to go in a slow , slow game, Neil Lennon looked to the bench and called upon the services of Leigh Griffiths and Tom Rogic. A spark of genius required from two players who have traditionally been excellent for the team. Ntcham and Elyounoussi making way for the two who haven't featured much since season's start.
With only ten minutes left it was a call to Brown on the bench to come on and make a difference. Just before the change Griffiths did well down the left to bring about a corner. Duffu got up high to attack the Christie delivery but it sailed frustratingly high and over.
The Rogic - Griffiths partnership almost paid off. The Aussie playmaker tried an effort that was blocked and dropped to Griffiths who tried a spectacular scissor-kick effort that went well wide. Brown tried to catch a clever run by McGregor with a chipped ball forward but the little midfielder was a toe length away from making contact.
McCart cleared a Christie cross off the head of Griffiths for a corner as the champions asked more questions with time ticking perilously away.
With thirty seconds left of full time play, who would step up and score the goal? - one Leigh Griffiths was the answer. Kris Ajer found himself high up the pitch and has some nifty footwork to release El Hamed on the right. The Palestinian full back played a great ball in right on to the head of the little goal scorer to power it down and into the net.
It looked like that would be the end of things as St Johnstone looked crestfallen, but they never factored in the tenacity of Polish hitman Klimala who moved on to a good ball in the right channel. The big striker was taken out of the game by a cynical foul but instead of accepting the infringement he immediately got to his feet, took a touch and unleashed an unstoppable blast into the top right hand corner of the net for a two goal cushion.
My * did they leave it late but fair play to Neil Lennon, his changes made all the difference and gave the spark required to get an essential three points against a St Johnstone side who worked to frustrate throughout.
It finished St Johnstone 0 Celtic 2
Love it or loath it but this is how championships are won.