St Mirren 3-2 Celtic: Saints end goalless run to secure final place

Neil Lennon’s side crash out at the semi-final stages of the Scottish League Cup, putting an end to the chances of the Parkhead side claiming a domestic treble
St Mirren secured a place in the Scottish League Cup final with a victory over Celtic, ending the Hoops' ambitions of domestic treble.

Goals from Esmael Goncalves, Stephen Thompson and a penalty from Paul McGowan saw the Paisley side past the SPL leaders, also ending a nine-game goalscoring drought against Celtic. The visitors had levelled through Gary Hooper on the stroke of half-time and Charlie Mulgrew found the net late on, but it wasn't enough.

St Mirren made three changes from the side thumped at home by Ross County last Saturday, with David Barron, Jon Robertson and Sam Parkin dropping out to be replaced by David van Zanten, John McGinn and Goncalves.

Neil Lennon also made three changes from the side that extended their lead at the top of the SPL with victory over Dundee United on Tuesday, with Adam Matthews, Kelvin Wilson and skipper Scott Brown all returning in place of Mikael Lustig, Thomas Rogne and Beram Kayal.

Celtic had the first real chance of the early stages as Emilio Izaguirre raced down the left wing, before whipping in a cross in the direction of Lassad Nouioui, but the Tunisian frontman couldn’t reach the ball as it drifted away.

But it was the Paisley side who took the lead as Gary Teale played the ball to Conor Newton on the edge of the area and the on-loan Newcastle midfielder chipped the ball into the box for St Mirren new boy Goncalves to mark his debut with a goal.

As they started to ramp up the pressure, Celtic had a chance to equalise as Hooper got on the end of a long ball from Brown, getting in behind Jim Goodwin, but the English striker’s effort sailed over the bar.

It continued to be one-way traffic as Matthews swung in a cross from the right, onto the head of Georgios Samaras, but with van Zanten nearby the frontman could only direct his effort onto the top of Craig Samson’s bar.

On the stroke of half-time Lennon’s side levelled things, when Brown found Hooper with a cross from the right wing and the Norwich target made no mistake, firing home the equaliser for Celtic.

Celtic could have opened the second half in the lead as referee Willie Collum awarded a penalty for a handball by Goodwin, but Mulgrew saw his effort expertly saved by Sammon, diving to his right.

From almost putting Celtic in the lead, Mulgrew then helped them go behind as he handled a Teale cross and that allowed McGowan to step up from the spot to regain the lead for Danny Lennon’s side.

Things went from bad to worse for Celtic, as they failed to deal with a corner allowing Marc McAusland to whip in a cross that that Thompson turned and volleyed into the net to give the Buddies a two-goal cushion.

The Parkhead side pulled a goal back in injry time with a Mulgrew strike but Celtic couldn’t find the goals to take the game into extra time and St Mirren secured their place, along with Hearts in the League Cup final.