SLIPSHOD Celtic fired blanks for the second successive week to drop two unexpected points against the Perth Saints at Parkhead this afternoon.

It was a disappointing confrontation the champions dominated, but their accuracy in finishing was simply awful and unacceptable as they toiled to get the ball in the opposition net.

The Hoops were close to the Guinness Book of Records for shots and headers off target as they monotonously failed from reasonable positions.

Amazingly, it took two excellent late saves from Joe Hart to prevent last season’s treble-winners from losing for a second time in seven days after the Viaplay League Cup exit at Kilmarnock.

KEEPING CALM UNDER PRESSURE…Brendan Rodgers on the touchline.

Now Brendan Rodgers has to pick up his players before the first Glasgow derby of the campaign at Ibrox a week tomorrow.

Shooting practice should be high on the list of the manager’s priorities at Lennoxtown in the next few days.

The nearest to a breakthrough goal in the opening half came in the 12th minute when Kyogo Furuhashi flashed an effort just wide after a good opening set up by comeback Bhoy Alistair Johnston, playing his first game of the season.

The Japanese international striker had to take the shot early with Perth defenders about to converge and the normally sure-shot hitman missed the target.

It looked a goal all the way as it zoomed from the prolific attacker’s boot and keeper Dmitar Mitov was helpless, but it sizzled beyond his left-hand post.

Yang Hyun-jun, making his first start for the champions, was operating on the left wing and looking lively. He set up an opportuntiy for David Turnbull, but the midfielder’s crisp shot was deflected past the upright.

CAPTAIN’S ROLE…Callum McGregor and his team-mates toiled against the Perth club.

Matt O’Riley was then defied by Mitov following a first-time drive and the Bulgarian netminder followed up by completing the clearance with the ball looping towards the net.

In the 26th minute, Turnbull and Callum McGregor dovetailed on the left before the skipper whipped in a low cross.

O’Riley was unmarked around the penalty spot to first-time a shot at goal, but, unfortunately, it was straight at Mitov who blocked the attempt before it was cleared to safety. A bit more composure with the finish would almost certainly have brought dividends.

The new central defensive partnership of Gustaf Lagerbiekle and Liam Scales were settling in without too many questions being asked by the opposing forwards.

Yang, Turnbull and Daizen Maeda queued up to thump in a variety of shots that were all off target, the Japanese winger’s attempt particularly wayward as it hurtled high and wide.

The Hoops dominated proceedings and had the bulk of possession, but that was a lack of ingenuity and killer finish to capitalise on the superiority.

Frustratingly, the scoreline had not been disturbed as the half-time whistle arrived following a scoreless opening period.

SHOT-SHY…Kyogo Furuhashi fired blanks for the second week in a row.

Five minutes after the interval, O’Riley was foiled again as the alert Mitov managed to divert a close-range drive after good service from Johnston on the right.

It didn’t get much better for the Hoops midfielder moments later when he was yellow-carded after a wayward challenge on Jay Turner.

Greg Taylor emphasised the off-target finishing of his team-mates when he joined the attack to thump one high, wide and anything but handsome.

That triggered a triple change by Rodgers on the hour mark as he sent on Anthony Ralston, Sead Haksabanovic and Liel Abada and took off Johnston, Turnbull and Maeda.

Two minutes later, Haksabanovic whipped over an inviting cross from the left, but, incredibly, O’Riley walloped a first-time drive high over the bar.

It was a procession of dreadful misses from the champions that was beginning to irk the home support, eager to see a reward for the team’s dominance.

James Forrest was introduced for the tiring Yang in the 68th minute as Rodgers opted for some more experience.

Shortly afterwards, it was Mitov to the rescue for the visitors again as he dived full-length to his left to push away a rasping dive from Haksabanovic.

In the 73rd minute, Hart produced an astonishing reflex save to prevent the Saints from taking a sensational lead.

Dara Costelloe managed to wriggle clear of Scales on the right to turn inside onto his left to drive a shot at goal. It was a certain scorer until the veteran shotstopper flicked out a hand to divert the effort for a corner-kick.

MIXED FORTUNES…Yang Hyun-jun started well before being replaced by veteran James Forrest.

The visitors were infuriating the home fans by their continual stoppage of the game, but the referee pointed to his watch to indicate the minutes would be added on.

Alexandro Bernabei came on for Taylor in the 75th minute with Rodgers making his last throw of the dice.

Strangely, little had been seen of Kyogo as a potent goal threat as the encounter wore on with the Hoops trying to prise open a stubborn opposing rearguard.

Hart produced another massive save to repel an angled drive from Stevie May after the Perth foward had outfoxed Lagerbiekle before firing off a shot which was brilliantly dealt with by the keeper.

In the 84th minute, it was Forrest’s turn to miss an opportunity as he sent a header from a Ralston cross harmlessly over the bar from a good position.

Eight minutes were added on, but all to no avail.

Things have got to get better. Pronto!

TEAM: Hart; Johnston (sub: Ralston 60), Lagerbielke, Scales, Taylor (sub: Bernabei 75); O’Riley, McGregor, Turnbull (sub: Haksabanovic 60); Yang (sub: Forrest 68), Kyogo, Maeda (sub: Abada 60).

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