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Celtic 2-0 St Johnstone

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Celtic moved to within goal difference of securing the Scottish Premier League title by opening up an 18 point lead with six games remaining after a two goal victory over St Johnstone at Celtic Park today.  Second half goals from Georgios Samaras and an own goal by Chris Millar settled the game which looked even for long spells.

Samaras has been like a player reborn in recent weeks and continued in the same manner today.  From the opening minutes of the game he thundered down the left wing using pace and skill at close quarters to strain the St Johnstone defence.

Gary Hooper could  have done better when Anthony Stokes fed him early on but his chip was collected by St Johnstone keeper Allan Mannus.  Once play stopped referee Salmond booked Maybury for his foul on Stokes as the Celtic striker played the ball forward for Hooper but despite therefore acknowledging the offence, the ref failed to pull play back after Hooper failed to gain any advantage.

Kris Commons is still looking for his first goal of the season and twice came close today.  In the first half Stokes held the ball inside the box until Commons arrives to shoot from 8 yards but he knocked the effort narrowly wide.  In the second half a swerving shot was on target for the top right corner of the net before Mannus got a touch.

Liam Craig was St Johnstone’s principle threat and he brought a good save out of Fraser Forster from a free kick midway through the first half.  Celtic struggled to create much in the opening period but Michael Lustig crossed from the right wing but found no takers despite running along the six yard line.

Celtic should have taken the lead a minute from the break.  Commons sent in a free kick, Samaras missed a header and Mannus blocked but Charlie Mulgrew was on hand the head the rebound, only to see his effort cleared off the line.

Cillian Sheridan and Francisco Sandaza both had good headed efforts to open the scoring early in the second half but neither found the target.

Celtic stepped up the pace just after the hour after Ki and Matthews replaced Stokes and Lustig.  Scott Brown saw a shot from inside the D saved.

The opening goal arrived on 66 minutes after Georgios Samaras was involved in a couple of scuffles.  The Greek international was grounded inside the box and was then shoved off the ball within seconds of getting back to his feet, again inside the box but the referee didn’t see it.  Samaras clearly took exception to this treatment and a moment later shielded the ball using his body until he was dragged to the ground.

It looked like a feisty play by Samaras who was clearly animated.  When Kris Commons swung in the resultant free kick Samaras rose and headed back across goal and into the net.

St Johnstone pressed forward looking for an equaliser and might have got one had Adam Matthews not made a last ditch interception to turn the ball behind for a corner.  With St Johnstone forward for the set piece Celtic broke quickly.  Commons carried the ball forward, and with everyone one else on the field running at full pace, he took a second before sending a 60 yard pass across field to Ki.  Ki moved inside before playing the ball out to Samaras on the right.  Samaras crossed for Hooper but the ball was turned into the net by Millar.

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  1. kevinlasvegas on

    67heaven i think either thommo or johan should move on for maybe an older head. we seem to have no plan B and today it was going to take a mistake or set piece to score after the first 10 mins that’s how obvious and inexperienced the team looked. 4-4-2 does work with our strikers im affraid , they may be too similiar and both have terrible first touches sometimes and lack of each others awareness.

     

     

    KLV

  2. stephbhoy on 1 April, 2012 at 17:43 said:

     

    Philbhoy – It’s just the beginning! on 1 April, 2012 at 17:30 said:

     

     

    the wee man always worked hard, has throughout his career, players are as good as they are and have their own strengths and weaknesses, which can be improved with a willingness from the player.

     

     

    so for example, player goes to manager says i want to play, manager says o.k i’ll give you a shoot, if you work harder run yourself into the ground every week. o.k boss, so he gets his game and what happens lazy, what does the boss do, get him to run more at training? no

     

     

    look at MON’s team, bring in players get them to do what you want, if they dont do what you want then bring in somebody who will.

  3. I dillied and I dallied, read the article and got caught on the ball and robbed of at least a podplacing.

     

    Anyway an important and significant nail in Rangers’ coffin today.

     

    Sammi in inspired and inspiring form.

  4. kevinlasvegas on

    enjoyed it and again why do people pay all that money and leave 10/15 mins early. Crazy. I have never had the pleasure of going to CP on a regular basis and it must be great to take it for granted and leave with 75 mins on the clock. crazy.

     

     

    KLV

  5. Great young team, great young manager, happy days.

     

     

    Some performances lately have been a bit flat but remember St Johntone are having one of their best seasons in decades. We dispatched them with ease despite not scaling the heights.

     

     

    Paul67, what’s your info on the demise of our opposites? What I really need to know is – should I be taking an annual leave day on Thursday to nurse my champagne headache?

     

     

    TJ

  6. Philbhoy - It's just the beginning! on

    Strikers need good service to score goals.

     

     

    We lack creativity and imagination in midfield which would make a difference to them. Given decent opportunities both can finish.

     

     

    OK, Neil?

  7. Just back from the game with my 2 bhoys,

     

     

    One of the lads is in a wheelchair, so wanted to say a big thank

     

    you to Peter Joyce of the disabled celtic supporters association for organising the day for us, it was the kids 1st day at paradise and he had a fantastic experience, everyone at the club from the office ghirls to stewards for parking were fantastic and a credit to the club.

     

     

    Well done everyone,

     

     

    very proud of all connected with the club today.

     

     

    HH

     

     

    Mike

  8. Grinding out results, eh!

     

     

    That’s what champions do, isn’t it?

     

    At least that’s what the old media would say every time the TFOD won by the odd penalty or two……………..

  9. kevinlasvegas on

    As a side note, The ref was terrible today, we barley get 70/30 decisions now it seems. Sammy got wrestled from behind for about a full min before the ref gave the foul and he just stood there and watched it then blocked a pass on the edge of the box facing the touch line when a stj play fell behind him he gave the foul without seeing it. Crazy. Also Stokes leave the FK’s for Charlie and KC.

     

     

    KLV

  10. A bit dissapointed at the reaction to a hard fought 3 points today.

     

    Steve Lomas has a decent spl team there, and he has the makings of a good manager, and his team are very hard to break down.

     

    I thought Lustig did ok, considering the lenght of time he has had out.

     

    The officials were shocking.

     

    GloryhuntersCSC :>)

  11. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!!..Truth and Justice will always prevail on

    kevinlasvegas on 1 April, 2012 at 17:43 said:

     

     

    Ah, sorry……I thought you were alluding to our legend (already) ……LOL

     

     

    share

     

     

  12. Eyes Wide Open on

    Lenny is many things.

     

     

    A motivator he is

     

    A leader of men he is

     

    Lead from the front he does

     

    Protect his players and defend them in public he does

     

    Spotter of talent he is

     

    Ability to get players playing for him he possesses.

     

     

    Tactician he is not.

     

     

    He ticks every box you look to have ticked in a football manager bar this one.

     

     

    He needs a coach whose experience and ethos comes from abroad to assist him.

     

     

    4-4-2 is redundant in the modern game. Trying to find solutions to fix the flawed system will get you success in the SPL for sure, however when the quality of opposition steps up a level – thats when Lenny needs an alternative point of view whispering in his ear.

  13. fanadpatriot on 1 April, 2012 at 17:38 said:

     

     

    I thought the reaction to Glen Loovens be included was way over the top, with Bangura and Brozek injured we didn’t have much choice up front.

     

     

    I’m not a fan of freaking out every time Neil changes the team, we here all the time that Champions win even when they don’t play well, does that apply to Celtic or are we sometimes to critical of the team?

     

     

    Today for instance instead of looking at where we went wrong I would be looking at where St Johnstone went right, they came up for a game and gave us a game but we stuck to the task and got the victory.

     

     

    SP

  14. Vmhan Supporting Lenny! on 1 April, 2012 at 17:45 said:

     

    Lustig is a RB and he can play CH …… If necessary.

     

    He’s a player for next season IMO

     

    We could do with creativity in the midfield but we do have a decent team.

     

    V

  15. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!!..Truth and Justice will always prevail on

    kevinlasvegas on 1 April, 2012 at 17:52 said:

     

     

    Even the linesman kept disagreeing with the ref …. LOL

  16. kevinlasvegas on

    Id agree with that assertion Eyes wide shut. He is a young manager but i think he may need someone to guild him and advise him. This is just my opinion i know its a touchy subject sometimes on here, I just feel this would bring the team more consistancy as we are still Jeykll and hyde.

     

     

    KLV

  17. Hard fought win today, you can’t always be at your best! Delighted to be within touching distance of another title win. Tickets for Killie safe in my kitchen drawer. Looking forward to taking scottishleaf junior down to deepest darkest aryshire to watch Celtic win the league!

     

     

    Loved the tribute to Stan today, he was one of my favorite players, I didn’t often get a name and number on the back of my shirts but his certainly was one of the few I did have. Get well soon!

  18. kevinlasvegas on

    Ref was baffling, well i think he’s new so he’s trying to make a good impression on his fellow brothers, ahem i mean professionals. ; )

     

     

    KLV

  19. Oh and George Salmond should have stuck with cricket, a truly terrible performance today, no question of bias in my mind just a total inability to spot the obvious!

  20. Sammy is unbelievable these days – first class, real quality – delighted he got another goal.

  21. Not the older head / mentor debate again, surely?

     

     

    Neil is coping magnificently without the advice and guidance of Alex Smith, Tommy Craig, Stuart Baxter (insert numerous others at your leisure).

     

     

    I love the fact the management team are all young men. That generally means they can only get better. Mistakes are part of it, if were perfect it would be boring.

     

     

    And to paraphrase Jock Stein and Gordon Strachan, tactics are overrated, put good players on the park in some semblance of a framework and they will do well.

     

     

    Happy days

     

     

    TJ

  22. kevinlasvegas on

    George kept getting in the wrong place at the wrong time and gave a foul every time Stj players went down in our half, especially just outside the box, his remit must have stated as many FKs on target and you’ll get on ok son.

     

     

    KLV

  23. Glenn Gibbons: Winning feeble league is far from ‘different class’

     

    Published on Saturday 31 March 2012 04:07

     

     

    THE nature of the Old Firm beast dictates that the conclusions to be drawn from Celtic’s recent back-to-back reversals will vary wildly from a slightly uncertain defiance (Parkhead fans) to near-hysterical, almost amusing ridicule (Rangers followers, including Kyle Lafferty).

     

     

    What is indicated in the defeats by Kilmarnock in the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden and by Rangers in the SPL collision at Ibrox is something conspicuously more banal than anything that is the subject of feverish howling by the respective supporters. This phenomenon does, however, have significant relevance to a “debate” that has provoked some desperate nonsense since the Ibrox club’s descent into administration.

     

     

    Anyone with a proper sense of the general mediocrity of the Scottish game will have, some time ago, recognised the truth that, in such a climate, no result can be regarded as entirely shocking. In a league where there is little variance in the contestants’ standards of performance, there is rarely a long wait between “surprises”.

     

     

    It is why, for decades, bookmakers have earned untold fortunes from punters willing to plunge on the outcome of matches in the lower divisions. In those areas, teams are almost invariably so closely matched in their poverty that people with a sound grasp of betting value could not be tempted into a wager with a gun at their head.

     

     

    In relation to the talent-rich leagues of the continent, the SPL has joined the underclass of Europe, the inevitable consequence of years of the country-wide decline in standards. With his relentless insistence that the national team is presently replete with superstars, Craig Levein may have convinced himself, but most of the rest of us await persuasive visual evidence on the field of play

     

     

    While Celtic’s status as Scotland’s most formidable team this season has been firmly established, the more sober of their supporters will have realised that, despite a long unbeaten run in the middle period, they cannot reasonably be described as “different class”. Indeed, it is difficult to escape the conviction that their now inevitable league championship will be devalued because of the scantiness of the opposition.

     

     

    This should not be confused in any way with the claim that their title will be “tainted” on the grounds of Rangers’ ten-point penalty for fiscal mismanagement. That is patently a ludicrous argument, given the Ibrox team’s deterioration long before the revelation of the financial morass – or the departure of their leading scorer, Nikica Jelavic.

     

     

    But the low value of Celtic’s championship this season will be little different from several that the Glasgow clubs have shared in the last few years, when the feebleness of the league has been horribly exposed in Europe.

     

     

    While it is not difficult to detect the potential for improvement in a number of the younger players in Neil Lennon’s squad – and, by extension, progress as a team towards a higher level of performance – they seem a long way from proving themselves exceptional.

     

     

    Until they do (and Europe is usually the most reliable test bed), they will remain as flawed as any other ordinary mortals.

     

     

    Ignoring fans for TV was own goal for clubs

     

     

    Football affords its citizens the luxury of becoming enmeshed in revolution without the slightest risk of bloodshed. In the circumstances, anyone would think the old game would be awash on virtually an annual basis by radical proposals and ideas that would effect great sea changes in a business that, like any other, cannot afford to stagnate.

     

     

    Instead, it has taken the dozen years since the SPL became a 12-team organisation in 2000 for the ten non-Old Firm clubs to summon the nerve to challenge Celtic and Rangers on the iniquity of a voting system that, requiring an 11-1 majority on constitutional issues, owes more to the old Politburo at the Kremlin than it does to any self-styled modern democracy.

     

     

    As the commendably expansive Hibernian managing director, Fife Hyland, emphasised in The Scotsman this week, much more consideration has to be reserved for supporters, with the ratio of attention paid to TV companies and the clubs’ paying customers having become dangerously askew. Hyland’s concerns chime with a tale related by Bill Wilson, the former commercial director of the Scottish FA, at the very outset of the SPL in 1998. Wilson, a globally respected player in the corporate market, would be a natural first reference point for any fledgling group.

     

     

    “They asked me about television agreements and how to go about getting the best deals,” said Wilson. “That was when it emerged that the satellite broadcasters wanted to stage matches with kick-offs at five past six on Sunday nights.

     

     

    “I told them they should be very wary of that and to give proper thought to their season ticket holders. It took only a few minutes to become quite clear that they didn’t give a toss about their season ticket holders. All they saw was the TV money. It seemed obvious even then, at the very start, that consideration of the fans would not head the list of priorities.”

     

     

    This was, in fact, no more than an extension of the projection revealed by Freddie Fletcher, the commercial director at Rangers after the Lawrence construction company had assumed control at Ibrox in 1986. Fletcher said that his ultimate objective was to create a climate in which attendances would amount to only 30 per cent of the club’s revenue.

     

     

    As a concept, at the time, this was the equivalent of 15th-century Italians being told by Columbus that the world was round. The ambition was never likely to be achieved in a country as small (in the context of potential TV audiences) as Scotland, but it appears to have taken the visionaries of the SPL 14 years to have made the connection.

  24. Up over goal

     

     

    “Jeez – even the tiniest amount of criticism puts a crimp in your afternoon. We’re just discussing the game – the pluses and the minuses. Get over yourself. ”

     

     

    My afternoon remains uncrimped following my joy at yet another Celtic victory in the run in to this title. You, in fact sound decidedly more crimped than me as you strive to find fault with these young men who are providing us with such a good season.

     

     

    People are fully entitled to criticise and, boy!, do they not love to exercise that right. There are undoubtedly areas of the team that need improvement and where better performances can be obtained but, I’ve seen too many recent failed seasons to give myself too much time to devote to looking for the black lining to a silver cloud.

     

     

    See this idea that changes in position and tactics and team line ups means that you got the line up and tactics wrong originally, that is what we call a false assumption. From false assumptions you get distorted conclusions.

     

     

    Good managers react to changing events. Good managers react to opponents successes. Lenny never let St. Johnstone settle today. Commons moved from the wing to the middle, switching with Broony. Sammi swapped wings with Kris. All of this gave new challenges to their immediate opponents.

     

     

    That’s what I like about Lenny. He doees not settle for playing favourites and keeping things settled, though he gets all the usual cliched jibes about no Plan B, subs at the wrong time, not playing the critic’s favourites etc; etc; Right from the Ross County game, he showed a ruthlessness about early subs and tactical variety which was missing from Tony Mowbray’s game. Lenny is a restless, dis-satisfied manager. A winner.

     

     

    Some of those changes he makes are designed to take advantage of a game that gets stretched after the hour mark and opponents who have been tired by trying to keep up with the movement of Hooper and Stokes etc; The subs and the changes are not admissions of failure, they are game changers which bear the fruit earned by the earlier efforts of those who are replaced. And, by the way, it worked today. Again.

     

     

    When Gordon was winning 3 in a row, Celtic Park became a very unpleasant place in which to enjoy a winning team. We reaped what we sowed then by helping to create a climate in which Rangers won 3iar.

     

     

    By all means, bump our gums about perceived failings on this blog, but let’s try to keep the moaning and the panicking away from the ground because it does adversely affect the team. Every loudmouth that chooses to shout out a scathing witticism during lulls in crowd noise, contrbutes negativity to our attempts at winning whilst they earn the applause of the unthinking few around them. Just listen to our opponents talk. They like nothing better than the sound of a dissatisfied Celtic support; it helps them and does not help Celtic.

     

     

    On the blog, it does not matter much. Get tore in for all your worth but don’t be surprised if you get a reaction from some. We all have the self-same rights to criticise. I just chose a different target than our manager and players.

     

     

    I’m over myself now, thanks for asking :-)

  25. kevinlasvegas on

    Yeah, Im not digging at Neil at all, I look at everything that man has to put up with in this so called civilisation and bow my head in respect to this strong strong man, But i think on the park he may need some advice and i don’t see what either Thommo or Johan bring to the table in terms of helping Neil out. They seem to do nothing but draw a wage.

     

     

    KLV

  26. Glorious day in Key Biscayne as Andy Murray prepares to play Djokovic in final of Sony Ericcson ATP Championship.

     

    He has had an easy run to the final especially with Rafa nadal withdrawing from semi.

  27. Totally off topic.

     

     

    Watching new Time Team and thinking God, how old have they all got!

     

     

    Then realised I had aged the same, shattered… :(

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