St Johnstone have endured a disappointing Celtic defeat at McDiarmid Park, losing to the Scottish champions 3-0 after a poor first half.
Within the first six minutes, Celtic had their opener. A James Forrest cross was headed into the net by Olivier Ntcham. It was relentless pressure the Saints defence were enduring early on, with Celtic peppering Zander Clark’s gloves multiple times.
The 20th minute all but ended the game. Forrest cut inside to fire low past Clark to give Celtic daylight. Leigh Griffiths’ 26th minute volley did make sure the game was done.
It’s a disappointing result for the Saints and it keeps them in eighth, five points clear of the relegation zone. Here are three things we learned.
Saints gameplan goes out the window
It was clear to see what Tommy Wright’s plan to stop Celtic was from the off. Sitting in and hitting the visitors on the counter seemed to be how Wright was approaching it but that all changed.
Ntcham’s sixth minute goal meant the Saints could no longer sit in unless they were content with defeat. They did push further forward slightly when they had the ball after Celtic’s opener.
But two more within the first 30 minutes destroyed any plans Wright had put in place. It became damage limitation in the end.
Crosses into the box
One thing that Saints kept getting exposed with were crosses into the box. Both home flanks were getting hammered all night, leading to so many balls into the danger area.
Ntcham was free in the box as he turned a cross into the net before Griffiths was also left unmarked as he made it three. There was only so much St Johnstone’s defence could deal with and it was inevitable that mistakes would creep in somewhere.
Against Celtic though that comes with deadly punishment and the Perthshire side know all about that now.
Forget this, remember positive run
This is obviously a damaging defeat for St Johnstone. They were outplayed in every department and a particularly tough first half will have them reeling a bit.
That being said, this needs forgotten about. Stewing on it will only reduce confidence, which would be a shame after going on such a positive run. One defeat in eight prior to this has put them in a relatively decent position in terms of the relegation fight.
They sit five clear of 11th and 12th thanks to results against the likes of Kilmarnock, Hearts and Hamilton. Focusing on these types of positive performances will be better than thinkin about their Celtic disappointment. But it’s fair to say Wright will want stark improvements against Hearts.