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Dublin: 2°C Monday 12 April 2021

Celtic come to life in the second half to record convincing win at St Mirren

Neil Lennon’s improving side made it three wins in-a-row for the first time this year in the Irish-heavy encounter.

Shane Duffy celebrates with his Celtic team-mates.
Shane Duffy celebrates with his Celtic team-mates.
Image: PA

CELTIC CAME TO life in the second half at St Mirren to run out convincing 4-0 winners.

Midfielder Tom Rogic gave the Parkhead side the lead in the 15th minute with a drive but it was not until the sides turned around that the Hoops pressed home their advantage in the Scottish Premiership encounter.

Striker Odsonne Edouard doubled that lead in the 78th minute with a penalty and substitute Ryan Christie and David Turnbull added further goals to make it three wins in-a-row for Neil Lennon’s side for the first time this year.

The reigning champions had lost 2-1 to the Buddies at the end of last month with Lennon admitting it was the lowest point of his two spells as boss but this game demonstrated the improvement since.

The one downside for the visitors also came in the second half when defender Stephen Welsh, 21, was taken off on a stretcher after a challenge by Saints striker Jon Obika.

On a bitterly cold night in Paisley, Jak Alnwick returned to the St Mirren goal after a suspension with Ryan Flynn and Dylan Connolly also reinstated, and the visitors unchanged.

Saints showed some confidence in a hurly-burly start to the match and Jamie McGrath — the high-flying Meathman came off injured after just 15 minutes — flashed a shot wide of the target from 20 yards.

He had to be taken off in the 13th minute after injuring his shoulder in a tussle with Welsh and was replaced by Kyle McAllister.

Just seconds after the Saints substitute came on, Hoops defender Jonjoe Kenny combined with Rogic and the Australia midfielder worked a yard of space for himself inside the box before curling a left-footed shot into the far corner of the net.

In the 39th minute, as the match drifted towards the interval, another left-footed drive from Rogic was deflected past for a corner which came to nothing and at the other end minutes later Kenny did enough to prevent Connolly getting a clean shot on goal from the edge of the box.

Celtic’s start to the second half was purposeful and midfielder Callum McGregor drove wide from 20 yards.

Edouard’s close-range shot from a Rogic pass was put round the post by the foot of Alnwick, who made a decent save from Turnbull’s long-range effort.

The Parkhead men increased the tempo further and Turnbull and Rogic came close with drives.

In the 64th minute Obika was booked by referee Don Robertson for a late challenge on centre-back Welsh who was taken up the tunnel on a stretcher, replaced by Shane Duffy, with Christie on for Albian Ajeti.

Celtic’s second goal came after Robertson pointed to the spot when Flynn tackled Hoops left-back Greg Taylor inside the box.

Edouard slammed in the penalty and was immediately replaced by Patryk Klimala but it was Christie who skilfully curled in a third from inside the box after taking a pass from Rogic.

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Moments later, with Saints’ heads down, Turnbull latched on to a pass from Christie and knocked in a fourth for a well-deserved three points.

McGrath and Connolly were just two of St Mirren’s Irish contingent involved, with Joe Shaughnessy, Jake Doyle-Hayes and Conor McCarthy all playing the full game. Shane Duffy came off the Celtic bench in the 67th minute, and was booked in the 83rd.

Elsewhere, Motherwell spoiled Tommy Wright’s return to the Scottish Premiership as Allan Campbell’s second-half strike earned the visitors a 1-0 victory at Kilmarnock.

Campbell finished in emphatic fashion in the 71st minute after an impressive assist from Tony Watt, one of Wright’s former players at St Johnstone.

The Northern Irishman assumed control on Monday following the departure of Alex Dyer but his task got a little bit harder as Motherwell moved four points ahead of their opponents in the bottom four after inflicting Kilmarnock’s sixth consecutive defeat.

Killie had plenty of possession and pressure but Motherwell defended their box well and had the better chances with the home side still missing injured centre-backs Kirk Broadfoot and Stuart Findlay.

The away win was further evidence of the positive impact made by Graham Alexander since he beat Wright to the post of Motherwell boss last month.

The former Salford boss has now accumulated 11 points in seven games and the Steelmen are closer to the top six than the bottom two.

There was Irish joy for Motherwell’s Jake Carroll, while Gary Dicker, Colin Doyle, Alan Power all played for Kilmarnock

Elsewhere in the Scottish Premiership, Livingston and Hamilton Academical’s clash was postponed.

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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