STAND-IN skipper Nir Bitton insists Celtic must be “more ruthless” to finish off opponents following the 3-1 triumph over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park yesterday.

The Hoops looked to be coasting after two goals from the lively Liel Abada in the opening 22 minutes against a rock-bottom Perth outfit who have now lost eight games in a row.

However, some remarkably slack and sloppy play by the Hoops – including a catalogue of woeful finishing – invited Callum Davidson’s battlers back into the contest and Chris Kane capitalised with a soaring header after some inept defending from Carl Starfelt in the 69th minute.

The match should have been out of sight by the time he netted beyond the helpless Vasilis Barkas, making only his second competitive appearance of the campaign.

Home keeper Elliot Parish made a couple of good stops to deny Abada his hat-trick while Tom Rogic, who otherwise performed excellently on a difficult and churned-up playing surface, had two efforts that were closer to the Boxing Day shoppers in Perth High Street than the Saints goal.

It was left to Bitton, standing in for the absent Callum McGregor, to have the final say eight minutes from the end when he lashed a low drive from the edge of the box beyond the diving rival netminder.

Asked about the armband, the Israel international replied: “I try to do my best every game — this armband is just a sign. I don’t put a lot of attention on it, but obviously it’s a privilege for me to captain this club and these boys.

“We had an amazing game, although we made it quite difficult for ourselves near the end.

“It was a comfortable game for us, we controlled from the first minute and I’m glad we won. We knew before the game it didn’t matter what team we put out, we are the better team.

“We had to control the game and show it on the pitch. We have a strong squad — it doesn’t matter who plays, we should dominate matches.

“We made one mistake and we paid for it, but we need to learn for the future. We need to be more ruthless and finish games off earlier, but, at the end of the day, we won the game.”

Reflecting on his strike – his second for the Hoops in FIVE years – Bitton, speaking to the Scottish Sun, added: “It was lucky! I had a good chance, I was inside the box and controlled the ball.

“I tried to hit the target and I’m glad I did it.”

Bitton’s previous strike came in the 2-2 draw with Livingston in West Lothian in January.



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