CELTIC 2 ST MIRREN 1
POWERHOUSE Oh Hyeon-gyu blasted in a dramatic late winner for Celtic in a tension-laden encounter at Parkhead this evening.
The game was balanced at 1-1 with seven minutes of regulation time to go when the South Korean struck to claim three crucial points.
Oh, who hadn’t scored this season, proved timing is everything when he latched onto a pass from fellow-sub Odin Holm to thunder in the all-important goal.
David Turnbull was a sinner and a saint as he scored and missed a penalty-kick in a night of anxiety in the east end of Glasgow.
Thankfully, though, the perseverance and positivity of the hosts finally got the result they deserved against stubborn opponents.
HIT…David Turnbull (extreme left) thunders in the Celtic equaliser.
MISS…David Turnbull thumps his penalty-kick against the post with keeper Zach Hemming looking on.
Right from the kick-off, the visitors showed their intentions with five players along the back and the midfield four not too far away.
Celtic Park was silenced in seven minutes when the Saints took the lead lead through Conor McMenamin with a remarkably simple goal that highlighted an alarming lapse of concentration in the Hoops defence, clearly missing the dominance of Cameron Carter-Vickers.
Greg Kiltie fired in a ball from the left that split Liam Scales and Greg Taylor and the opposition striker thumped a solid header past the static Joe Hart from eight yards.
In the 14th minute, Luis Palma had a quickfire drive diverted for a corner-kick. The deadball from the right was delivered in front of Turnbull, given the nod in front of Paulo Bernardo, who rattled a wayward shot into the crowd from the edge of the box.
Four minutes later, Turnbull found his range with a superb leveller after some excellent work on the left from Taylor and Matt O’Riley. The midfielder stretched to tee up an opening for his team-mate and he curled an unstoppable right-foot drive wide of the stretching Zach Hemming high into the net.
PENSIVE…Brendan Rodgers scratches his head as he puzzles over Celtic’s performance against St Mirren.
Turnbull blew the opportunity to give the Hoops the lead in the 28th minute when he squandered a penalty-kick. The midfielder saw a shot deflected by Alex Gogic after some good lead-up play from O’Riley and James Forrest on the right.
VAR intervened to instruct referee John Beaton to review the incident on the touchline monitor and it was obvious the Paisley defender had used a hand to divert the shot.
Turnbull wastefully smacked his 12-yard effort against opposite post as Hemming took off for his left and the netminder made a wonderful stop to deny Palma’s follow-up drive.
The hosts were toiling to get rhythm and tempo into their game as Saints worked extremely hard to cover space with a formation designed to suffocate the flow of play.
Just before the interval, Hemming made a stunning reflex diving save at his right-hand post to defy a low drive from Palma.
ON THE RUN…Luis Palma races away from Paisley defender Ryan Strain.
Ten minutes after the turnaround, Palma, Turnbull and Taylor worked an intricate move on the left to present a chance for Forrest, but his shot lacked precision and power and Hemming was allowed to divert the ball to safety.
Moments later, Forrest and Palma were replaced by Daizen Maeda and Yang Hyun-jun as Rodgers attempted to bring some more energy to to the team.
In the 68th minute, the manager made another change as he took off the tiring O’Riley and put on Odin Holm.
Within moments, Kyogo Furuhashi, looking strangely subdued, sent a header spinning wide from a good position.
Yang drew a diving save from Hemming when he shimmied to drag the ball to his right foot before firing in a drive, but the keeper did well to punch the ball to safety.
Oh was thrown on for Turnbull in the 74th minute as the Hoops desperately tried to break down the Saints barrier.
There was a massive sigh of relief amid the cheers in the 83rd minute when the hitman walloped in the Hoops’ second goal.
WALLOP…Oh Hyeon-gyu hammers in Celtic’s late winner as he leaves keeper Zach Hemming helpless.
Kyogo slipped a ball to Holm in the crowded box and the sub expertly set up the South Korean to hammer an effort high into the net for a welcome strike.
Oh raced to take the applause from the joyous fans and he deserved the acknowledgement for an unstoppable winner.
Kyogo was foiled in stoppage time by a desperate save from Hemming when he really should have scored after being left with a clear-cut opportunity.
In the end it didn’t matter as far as the result was concerned, but Rodgers will realise that Celtic will have to show an improvement in the coming months.
TEAM: Hart; Johnston, Phillips, Scales, Taylor; Turnbull (sub: Oh 74), McGregor, O’Riley (sub: Holm 68); Forrest (sub: Maeda 56), Kyogo, Palma (sub: Yang 56).