This was a terrific game with Celtic players scoring all seven goals. Dedryck Boyata scoring a terrific headed own-goal for St Johnstone after Celtic had opened them up several times, with a goal from Liam Henderson in the first five minutes. This continues a recent trend in which Celitc’s so called fringe players come in and not only do they do a job, they frequently end up man on the match. Stuart Armstrong was first to pick up the baton and push his way into the first team, playing so well, and scoring goals he was easily first pick for the midfield. Ryan Christie’s cameo’s before heading off on loan to Aberdeen had you wondering why they let him go. Callum McGregor who replaced Armstrong, when the latter got injured in the warm up against Hearts, came in and scored an absolutely exquisite first goal. But Boyata until recently seemed so far out in the Arctic cold a place on the bench was the most he could ask for, but came in and was outstanding, before yesterday’s defensive debacle scoring decisive goals for Celtic in the previous two victories before the Saint’s game. Remember this is the same player that bottled it in a Scottish cup semi-final against Rangers, an almost unforgivable sin, and whose distribution seemed amateurish at best.
It wasn’t a good game for Celtic’s defence yesterday. Too often they lost balls in the air. After scoring first and equalizing for the Saints they were at it again. Perhaps Nir Biton needs reminded he’s six-foot five. He was outmuscled and outjumped by Saint’s Keith Watson. Scott Brown in trying to keep the ball out headed it into his own net. Brown is another player that has come good this season. The much lauded Craig Gordon was poor yesterday. He had no hope of saving any of the goals conceded, but too many times tried to play football when a punt up the park was called for. Most notably in an exchange on the touchline with Boyata. His defensive partner Erik Sviatchenko was poor for a different reason, he didn’t impose himself on the game.
With Celtic 2-1 down, but still playing terrific football, it could have been anybody’s game. Under Deliah it would have been Saint’s. Celtic bring on MOUSSA DEMBELE who scores a hat trick in half-an-hour with almost his only three kicks of the ball. Job done. The man he replaced Gary Mackay Stevens had a decent game, showing nice touchline skill, but missing three sitters. Unlike for like. Scott Sinclair added to his usual goal a game average. Celtic played some scintillating football. A joy to watch. The move for the fifth and final goal had some many intricate passes if you were tying your shoelaces your shoes would end up as ear muffs, with even Michael Lustig contributing a ‘Rabona’ (whatever that is) in the Saint’s box, McGregor back-heeling and Dembele finishing after every Celtic player including Gordon and half the Celtic crowd behind his goal contributing by taking a touch or making a pass.
The big question of whether it was a penalty is easily answered. The referee pointed to the spot. Celtic had enough in the tank to bring on Nadir Cifti. Remember him. Maybe our next £30 million player. Anything seems possible under Brendan Rodgers. Leigh Griffiths, Tom Rogic and Stuart Armstrong all need to work their way back into the team. We’ve bought somebody for a couple of million and we’ve not even seen him yet. Still unwrapped. Another gift. Changed days indeed. But this is a reminder that sloppy defending can cost us the treble.