PA Wire/PA Images Hoops hat-trick hero Dembele.

Dembele sprung from the bench to rescue Celtic with fabulous second half hat-trick

The French striker’s third was pretty special as the Hoops made it 29 matches unbeaten with a 5-2 win.

SUBSTITUTE MOUSSA DEMBELE grabbed a second half hat-trick as Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic came from behind to claim a 5-2 win over St Johnstone at McDairmid Park.

Liam Henderson opened the scoring for the Hoops before Keith Watson and a Dedryck Boyata own goal had St Johnstone in front at the break.

French forward Dembele converted a controversial penalty to level matters a minute after coming on in the second half before firing home a second from the edge of the box.

Scott Sinclair added a fourth before Dembele struck late on to seal Celtic’s 19th victory in a row and extend their unbeaten domestic run to 29 matches.

Brendan Rodgers’s side are now 27 points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Celtic got off to the perfect start as Henderson gave them the lead in the sixth minute.

Zander Clark could only parry Patrick Roberts’s shot and the ball fell for Henderson, who sent a strike curling into the corner of the net.

However, the home side grew in confidence and deservedly equalised in the 31st minute.

Swanson’s corner found Watson at the back post and the defender’s bullet header took a slight deflection off Celtic captain Scott Brown on its way into the net.

The Celtic defence seemed unable to cope with Swanson and the midfielder had a big hand in putting St Johnstone in front two minutes before half-time.

The former Dundee United player’s cross from the left just evaded David Wotherspoon, but smashed off the head of Belgian defender Boyata and flew past Gordon into his own net.

St Johnstone had a penalty appeal turned down when Brown appeared to bring down Swanson in the box before the Hoops won a controversial decision at the other end on the hour mark.

Kieran Tierney’s cross appeared to hit the hip of Watson, but referee Craig Thomson adjudged it had hit his hand and pointed to the spot.

Dembele sent the penalty high into the net past the outstretched hand of Clark.

Dembele, linked with a move to Chelsea during the January transfer window, fired Celtic in front in the 75th minute as he slammed home Mikel Lustig’s pass from 16 yards.

Celtic then punished St Johnstone on the break as Roberts set up fellow winger Sinclair to slot past Clark for his 16th goal of the season in the 81st minute.

Dembele then rubbed salt in the wound as he blasted a shot home from close range after some skilful build-up play involving Lustig and Callum McGregor.

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