Matt O’Riley of Celtic celebrates after he scored.
CELTIC SURVIVED a stoppage-time scare as they came from behind to beat St Johnstone 3-1 in Perth.
Celtic trailed to Diallang Jaiyesimi’s first goal for St Johnstone at half-time after failing to deal with an inswinging corner for the second weekend running – Motherwell netted a late equaliser at Parkhead from the same source.
Craig Levein again threatened to mastermind Brendan Rodgers’ first league defeat as Celtic manager as the Hoops took their time to get back in the game. Levein was manager of Hearts when the Jambos ended Rodgers’ 69-match unbeaten domestic start to his first Celtic reign in December 2017.
But Callum McGregor netted with a powerful strike in the 67th minute and Matt O’Riley hit his seventh cinch Premiership goal of the season 11 minutes later when he finished brilliantly from 22 yards.
The final outcome though hinged on two incidents in time added on. Saints substitute Jay Turner-Cooke headed off the post from seven yards before Celtic broke seconds later and Tomoki Iwata squared for fellow sub James Forrest to guide the ball home.
Celtic had looked set to sweep Saints aside in a dominant start. Kyogo Furuhashi and O’Riley could not make the most of decent chances in the penalty box inside the first six minutes.
Centre-forward Jaiyesimi, making only his third Saints appearance, forced a save from Joe Hart from the hosts’ attack after holding off Liam Scales but Celtic continued to press.
David Turnbull saw a goal disallowed after a clear offside against Yang Hyun-jun and the former Motherwell midfielder was soon denied by a brilliant diving stop from Dimitar Mitov after turning on to his left foot on the edge of the box.
Saints grew into the game and put Celtic under a bit more pressure in the final third before taking advantage of Graham Carey’s inswinging corner.
O’Riley could only knock the initial contact back towards goal and, after several players competed for the ball on the line, the midfielder’s next attempted clearance bounced off Jaiyesimi and spun in.
Hart claimed for a foul but referee Don Robertson had seen no foul and his view was backed by video assistant referee Kevin Clancy.
Mikey Johnston came on for Yang at half-time for his third Scottish Premiership appearance of the season but there was another scare for Celtic when Cameron Carter-Vickers took a poor touch in his box. Carey shot first-time into the side net.
McGregor opened the Saints defence with a through ball to Furuhashi but Mitov was out quickly to block the Japan striker’s shot.
Oh Hyeon-gyu came on for Turnbull and the South Korean striker played a key role in the equaliser nine minutes later.
Oh controlled Johnston’s low cross at the near post and backheeled the ball across the face of goal. Mitov palmed it out and James Brown’s clearing header fell invitingly for McGregor, who drilled home first time from 16 yards.
McGregor had a long-range effort saved before Celtic went in front after taking advantage of a rare chance to catch St Johnstone on the back foot after winning the ball following a home throw. Furuhashi laid the ball off to O’Riley, who took a touch and smashed a shot with his weaker, right foot high into the net from 22 yards.
Forrest replaced the injured the injured Luis Palma and quickly forced a good parry from Mitov before having the final say.News Related