Kyogo & Mooy shine, as Celts coast past Saints to restore 9-point lead

Another breathtaking first-half performance saw Celtic ease to a 4-1 victory in Perth and re-establish their 9-point lead at the top of the table. Goals from Kyogo and Mooy, preceded by an Andrew Considine own goal, had the game sown up by the interval, leaving the second 45 minutes as nothing more than a glorified training session.

Over the past 18 months or so we have become accustomed to Celtic coming out of the blocks at 100mph and taking the game to the opposition from the word go.  Sunday’s visit to McDiarmid Park proved to be no different.

The home side actually started in a positive fashion and, were it not for the alertness and positioning of Carl Starfelt, could have had a couple of early sightings at goal.

As it was, St. Johnstone’s open style in the early exchanges allowed the likes of Hatate, Mooy, and Jota to enjoy a bit of extra space to play in.  Something Saints would soon live to regret.


On the 13-minute mark, Mooy released Kyogo in the inside-right channel with a lovely reverse pass that opened up the home defence.  The Japanese forward unselfishly looked to tee up compatriot Reo Hatate for a simple finish, however, Andy Considine had other ideas and turned the cross into his own net in a failed attempted clearance.

Celtic continued to overload the half space on both sides in attack, Hatate and Mooy often popping up in the inside channels and causing the home side no shortage of problems as Celtic went in search of a second goal.

That goal duly arrived midway through the half when Kyogo was on hand to turn home a low cross from Jota.  Once again, the irrepressible Aaron Mooy was at the heart of the move, sending Jota free on the wing with a delicate pass over the top to release the Portuguese winger.

Once the cross arrived at the feet of Kyogo there was only ever going to be one outcome as the forward notched goal number 22 of a prolific season.

With the game fast slipping out of St. Johnstone’s reach, the home side were given a lifeline when Drey Wright fired a stunning 25-yard effort past Joe Hart to halve the deficit. Hatate was caught in possession midway inside the Celtic half but, all credit goes to Wright for the finish as he still had a lot of work to do once the ball fell to him.

Celtic’s response was swift and sensational.

Jota lifted a perfectly weighted ball over the St. Johnstone defence for Aaron Mooy who controlled perfectly with his first touch before dinking over Matthews in the St. Johnstone goal.  As Liam Carrigan described it on the half time show, it was “a thing of beauty”.


The half-time show was full of the optimism you would expect after such a dominating first-half, Sean Connelly describing the football Celtic are currently playing as the best since the Tommy Burns days. High praise indeed.

While we called for Celtic to keep going at the same intensity in the second half, the reality was somewhat different.

The Hoops still controlled the game and rarely gave St. Johnstone a sight of goal, yet there was little urgency to add to the established advantage.  The game was won by the break; why break a sweat if it wasn’t necessary?

The late introductions of Oh, Turnbull, and Hakšabanović brought renewed verve to the attack and it was from a free-kick following a foul on Oh that Turnbull completed the scoring.

The South Korean forward was hauled to the ground by Considine after giving him the slip on the edge of the box.  The defender saw red for the infringement and Turnbull made Saints pay the ultimate price, lashing a right foot shot beyond Matthews to give Celtic a 3-goal lead and all 3 points.

Celtic return to action next Saturday evening in the Scottish Cup with a home tie against St. Mirren.  With the likes of Turnbull, Oh, Iwata, Hakšabanović, and Kobayashi all in need of extended game time, next Saturday may be the ideal opportunity for Ange to rotate the side and give some fresh faces a run out.

As always, A Celtic State of Mind will be covering the game.

Kevin McCluskie

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