DUNDEE 0 CELTIC 3
MIKEY JOHNSTON went over FOUR YEARS without scoring a goal for Celtic.
The winger came off the substitutes’ bench to score two in EIGHT MINUTES as the champions overcame Dundee at Dens Park this afternoon to restore their five-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle.
Johnston made his appearance in the 79th minute for Luis Palma with the visitors leading through a strike by Paulo Bernardo, the Portuguese midfielder’s first for the club.
The Republic of Ireland international doubled his side’s advantage with a low drive from outside the box four minutes after his arrival.
And Johnston, whose last goal had come in a 3-0 victory over Ross County in Dingwall on December 1 2019, repeated the feat with another low effort that left Trevor Carson helpless in the first minute of stoppage-time.
NUMBER ONE…joy Bhoy Mikey Johnston celebrates his first Celtic goal in over four years as Dundee keeper Trevor Carson can only look on in agony.
NUMBER TWO…Mikey Johnston pounces in a packed penalty area to steer another drive into the net.
Bernardo had claimed the deadlock-breaking strike in the 52nd minute after he had toe-poked a Palma pass wide of the flummoxed Dens netminder.
It was an all-too-familiar story in the first-half of Celtic dominating and being scornful with the opportunities that came their way as the opening period ended scoreless.
It took the Hoops a half-an-hour to get started and then the chances piled up, but, annoyingly and frustratingly, they were squandered in a procession that must have perplexed and puzzled Brendan Rodgers plus, of course, the travelling support.
The worst offender was Kyogo with a dreadful finish in the 29th minute after being set free with a glorious through ball from Matt O’Riley.
The Japanese striker timed his run forward to perfection as the home defence cried in vain for offside. The Hoops frontman, who scored his first goal in eight games against Livingston at the weekend, carried the ball into the box with just the unprotected Carson to beat.
The keeper came off his line more in desperation than expectation and he must have been as surprised as anyone when the forward managed to waywardly screw a shot wide of the target.
OH NO, KYOGO…the Celtic striker beats Trevor Carson, but the Celtic striker sends his effort wide of the target for a shocking miss.
Two minutes later, a shrewd throw from Joe Hart released Palma on the left. The Honduran moved forward menacingly before picking out the hard-working O’Riley about 30 yards out.
The Danish international left Carson helpless with a low drive, but, unfortunatly, the effort edged just past the left-hand post.
Next up only moments later, Palma played in an astute pass from the left that saw Bernardo head flick the ball goalwards, but his attempt swept just wide of the same upright with Carson stranded.
In the midst of this activity, the Dens netminder clearly manhandled Cameron Carter-Vickers as a left-wing corner-kick – one of nine for the Hoops in the opening 45 minutes – swirled into the penalty box.
TV pictures highlighted the infringement, but neither referee Don Robertson nor his VAR assistant Greg Aitken saw anything untoward and the home side escaped a penalty-kick award. Another whistler and another official watching on the multi-screens and there is every chance a spot-kick would have been the punishment.
The half came to an end when Callum McGregor picked out Palma at the back post with a perfect diagonal cross.
The winger, from about four yards out, amazingly missed with a header when it looked as though he must score.
The Hoops had had NINETEEN attempts on the home goal in that period with nothing to show for their efforts.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Paulo Bernardo nudges in the opener against Dundee – and his first goal for Celtic.
It was a major relief when Bernardo squeezed the opener past Carson after Scales had found Palma on the left and the tricky touchline operator slipped the ball in front of the midfielder.
He managed to propel the ball on target and on this occasion the Northern Ireland international keeper was beaten at last.
There was a worry for Rodgers when Carter-Vickers went down in the 55th minute in obvious distress and was replaced by Stephen Welsh.
Eleven minutes later, Yang Hyun-jun and Oh Hyeon-gyu replaced Kyogo and Daizen Maeda with the winger particualrly ineffective up against Liverpool loanee Owen Beck.
In the 79th minute, Johnston joined the action with Palma being withdrawn after a busy afternoon.
Then came the long-awaited goal from the wide Bhoy who enjoyed the experience so much he repeated the feat in added-on time.
Now all eyes are on the derby at Parkhead on Saturday.
Bring it on!
TEAM: Hart; A Johnston, Carter-Vickers (sub: Welsh 55), Scales, Taylor; Bernardo, McGregor, O’Riley; Maeda (sub: Yang 66), Kyogo (sub: Oh 66), Palma (sub: M Johnston 79).