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Celtic 3-1 St Johnstone: Bhoys move back into top spot
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Gavin McCafferty
Press Association
Kyogo Furuhashi was on target for Celtic (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Kyogo Furuhashi was on target for Celtic (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Recalled forward Kyogo Furuhashi scored one and set up another as Celtic went back to the top of the cinch Premiership with a 3-1 victory over St Johnstone.

Celtic took time to break Saints down despite dominating possession and territory, but they went on to create a steady stream of chances before Furuhashi headed the opener in the 40th minute.

Wingers Nicolas Kuhn and James Forrest netted in the second half against a side who enjoyed a goalless draw at Parkhead early in the season.

The only down side for Celtic was the failure to boost their goal difference, not helped by having three goals disallowed for offside, two of them marginal, and losing a late goal as substitute Connor Smith got off the mark for St Johnstone.

Brendan Rodgers’ side had missed the chance to move top of the table when losing to Hearts in their previous league game and this spell at the summit might only last until Rangers face Dundee at Dens Park on Sunday.

But the Celtic manager will have been pleased with the tempo and creativity shown by his side.

Furuhashi was in for Adam Idah after starting the previous three games on the bench, while Cameron Carter-Vickers recovered from a hamstring issue to replace the injured Liam Scales.

Adama Sidibeh had one long-range effort blocked as the Perth side frustrated Celtic for the opening quarter, but it was clear the St Johnstone striker was in for a lonely afternoon.

The visitors lost midfielder Sven Sprangler to injury with winger Max Kucheriavyi coming on, and Celtic began to wear their visitors down with their first real threats coming from a Matt O’Riley corner.

Luke Robinson twice blocked from Daizen Maeda on the line, the second time sparking a VAR check after the ball hit his upper arm. But referee Euan Anderson was not called to his screen by video assistant Chris Graham.

Kuhn soon played in Furuhashi over the top but the striker shot over with his right foot under pressure from Ryan McGowan.

Robinson produced his third goal-line clearance to deny Tomoki Iwata following another O’Riley corner.

Furuhashi was getting closer, seeing a goal disallowed for a marginal offside call after he steered home Paulo Bernardo’s cross and then getting in behind again only to see his shot deflected over.

Iwata was denied by Dimitar Mitov’s flying save before Celtic made their pressure count. Furuhashi was quick off the mark to beat Mitov to Kuhn’s inswinging cross and head home from four yards.

The goalscorer continued to threaten, stabbing Alistair Johnston’s low cross just wide and then having another goal disallowed for an offside against Maeda.

He turned provider in the opening minute of the second half, darting beyond the Saints defence to latch onto Greg Taylor’s perfect pass and send in a low cross. Kuhn showed good anticipation to net from six yards.

The Japanese striker soon fired a right-footed effort off the underside of the crossbar after being fed by O’Riley.

O’Riley saw an ambitious free-kick tipped over by Mitov before setting up the third goal midway through the second half.

Iwata won the ball back deep in the Saints half and O’Riley quickly spotted Forrest in space. The winger took a touch and rifled a left-footed strike into the corner of the net from 18 yards.

Saints got their goal in the 81st minute. Goalkeeper Joe Hart produced an excellent stop from Stevie May’s header and Smith was on hand to net the rebound.

Johnston soon lashed the ball into the roof of the net following a one-two but the flag went up and the decision was ratified after a lengthy VAR check.

Celtic could have given the scoreline a truer reflection of the game in stoppage time but Mitov saved well from Taylor and Iwata headed over from three yards.


Scottish PremiershipCelticSt. Johnstone
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