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Celtic thrash St Johnstone
Published : 11 May 2013 15:47:04Rss feed
Celtic confirmed their status as Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions on the day they received the SPL trophy with a thumping 4-0 win over St Johnstone at Parkhead.
The game was over almost before it had really started as midfielder Joe Ledley fired the home side ahead in the second minute before defender Charlie Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick in the 36th minute evaded everyone before nestling in the net for number two.
James Forrest made it three early in the second half as Celtic refused to allow the Taysiders out of a tight grip which had turned the afternoon into a non-contest, with Saints stopper Frazer Wright putting through his own goal in the final seconds.
Skipper Scott Brown, who returned for the first time in three months after recovering from surgery to solve an abductor problem, was handed the trophy on the presentation platform from a representative of the league's sponsors to huge cheers from the Hoops fans, who, after some indifferent displays and results recently, saw their side back to its best.
The Saints players applauded the champions on to the park before kick-off but would not have wanted to extend that act of sportsmanship to giving the home side a goal of a start, which is exactly what Ledley's quick-fire opener represented.
Gary Hooper looked like he handled Anthony Stokes' long ball as the Parkhead side broke but referee Alan Muir allowed play to continue, probably certain that Tom Scobbie would clear. However, the Perth defender mis-kicked inside his own box to Brown and the visitors were in trouble. Hooper regained possession, passed to Forrest who set up Ledley at the edge of the box and the Wales midfielder rifled an unstoppable drive past the flailing Alan Mannus.
From then on it was one-way traffic as the champions pressed for number two. Ledley's cut-back from the by-line was missed by Hooper with the McDiarmid Park defence scrambling the ball away before defender Mikael Lustig headed a Mulgrew free-kick past the far post from eight yards.
It seemed only a matter of time until Celtic doubled their lead and it came when Gregory Tade was penalised for a foul on the Parkhead captain, 35 yards from goal on the right-hand side. A trademark delivery from Mulgrew zipped past several heads inside the packed six-yard box and past Mannus into the far corner.
In the 51st minute, just after Victor Wanyama and Rowan Vine were booked for a spat, Celtic increased their lead further following another speedy break, when Hooper set up Forrest to shoot low past Mannus.
Forster made his first save of the game in the 78th minute from Nigel Hasselbaink and as the game petered out, Hooper missed with a header from close range, after getting on to the end of another fine Mulgrew cross. However, there was time for Wright to compound his side's miserable afternoon when he headed a Mulgrew corner into his own net.
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