ALISTAIR JOHNSTON is just six games away from taking his Celtic trophy haul to five honours inside a year and a half.

The Canadian World Cup defender joined in a £3.5million switch from MLS club CF Montreal in January last year and played his part in the Hoops’ world record eighth domestic clean sweep.

Johnston tucked away a penalty in his team’s dramatic 6-5 spot-kick success in the tension-laden Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen which had been deadlocked at 3-3 after a pulsating two hours or so of ups and downs.

The right-back will return to Hampden on Saturday May 25 for the showpiece showdown against Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side who beat Hearts 2-0 yesterday.

UP FOR THE CUP…Alistair Johnston in action at Hampden.

Before that, though, there are five Premiership games barring the champions’ path to their third successive title and their twelfth crown in 13 years.

They face Dundee at Dens Park on Sunday afternoon to kick-start the obstacle course.

As the 25-year-old ace prepares for the challenges in the campaign’s crescendo, Johnston has a simple mantra: Survive and advance.

Reflecting on the frantic encounter with the Pittodrie side at the national stadium, the energetic back-four operator said: “The most important thing was to get through. Survive and advance, as we call it at home.

“You forget about it. We’ll be back here in four or five weeks with a chance to win a trophy and at Celtic that’s what it’s all about. We’re excited about that.

“It was one where you felt the football gods were on your side a little. It was just a crazy football match.”

SHOW OF HANDS…Alistair Johnston congratulates Nicolas Kuhn after hitting Celtic’s first-half equaliser.

Johnston refused to be swept away amid the emotion of a topsy-turvy occasion that saw the holders concede a goal inside two minutes, come back to lead twice and be pegged back twice with late strikes against opponents who refused to lie down.

The defender was down to take the sixth penalty-kick, but hoped his skills from 12 yards would not be utilised when keeper Joe Hart went up to take the fifth attempt. A successful strike would launch the Hoops into next month’s grand finale.

Johnston, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “I was just begging for the final whistle and then, of course, they scored.

“My first thought was: ‘I’m going to have to take a penalty. I’m just happy that the thing went it. There was relief when Joe made the save.

“He had the chance to win and big Cameron Carter-Vickers said: ‘This is going to be a fairytale for Joe’.

“I said: ‘You can’t say that out loud, you’ve jinxed it!’

SAY IT AIN’T SO, JOE…the Celtic keeper smacks his penalty-kick off the Dons post.

“Then, Joe hit the post. I knew I was going to take the sixth penalty and that I was next. Cheers, mate! When he saved that final one it was relief. Joe is so good at those, he’s in great form.”

Johnston added: “Joe fancies himself as a penalty-taker, so that will hurt his ego a little that he’s dragged that one. He thinks he’s hit it well.

“He was always down to take the fifth penalty, that was always the plan. They gave us the list straight away. After that it was a case of: ‘Who wants one?’

“To be fair, that’s all keepers do in training sessions, take penalties into each other. I was actually pretty confident when he went up. I thought he was just going to hit it like a goal-kick and rip one.

“I was a little surprised when he went for the corner because in training he probably is our best penalty-taker.”

Anxious Celtic fans will hope Hart’s skills from the spot will not be required when Brendan Rodgers’ men return to Scottish football’s mecca next month.

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