Inside Celtic: Hoops lose some ground at the top of the table but look to bounce back against Aberdeen

Tony Watt scored again after his heroics in Barcelona, but it was cancelled out by St Johnstone striker Nigel Hasselbaink in yet another SPL draw for Neil Lennon's men
By Martin Macdonald


Celtic returned to domestic action after Champions League duty with a disappointing 1-1 against St Johnstone at Celtic Park on Sunday afternoon.

The Hoops were coming off a dream win against Spanish giants Barcelona, but were unable to maintain their momentum going into Scottish Premier League action as Tony Watt’s opening goal was cancelled out by Nigel Hasselbaink 13 minutes from time.

The first-half was a cagey affair with the home side enjoying the majority of possession but finding it difficult to break down a sturdy St Johnstone defence.

Victor Wanyama came close to replicating his back post header against Barcelona as he peeled off once again in this game but was unable to generate the necessary power to trouble goalkeeper Alan Mannus. He followed that up with dipped shot from the edge of the area a few minutes later in the first period but again it posed little threat to the away goal.

Kris Commons and Georgios Samaras then switched positions which saw the Scotland international move into a more advanced position. It came close to paying off instantly when Commons lashed a strike at goal from outside the box, only to see his attempt just clear the crossbar.

Sensing a change was needed, manager Neil Lennon introduced Champions League hero Watt into the action at the break. It proved to be a masterstroke as the 18-year-old found the net just six minutes after coming on.  He latched on to a cross-field pass from Charlie Mulgrew and managed to scramble the ball over the St Johnstone line, with defenders attempts to clear proving futile.

As the game progressed, the visitors turned up the heat on the Hoops and were able to find an equaliser with just under a quarter-of-an-hour to go.  Hasselbaink latched on to a loose ball in the penalty area after a corner kick to drill the ball home.

A few half-chances fell to the feet of Celtic in the latter stages, but the game eventually finished 1-1 and the points were shared.


Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted that the disappointing result and poor performance against St Johnstone in the Scottish Premier League was down to fatigue and tiredness within the squad.

The Hoops have had a packed schedule so far this year, and had pulled off a heroic win against Barcelona in the previous match before the weekend, and the Irish manager believes the hectic fixture list is begin to have a negative affect. Speaking after the match, he said:

“We have a heavy schedule and it's taken its toll a little bit on the squad. The players are giving me everything but they just ran out of puff. Once the Champions League rounds are over and we get maybe a month or two of week-to-week football, I think you'll start to see the team become really consistent and play with a lot more energy."

Lennon also commented that although he understood the reasoning for the poor performance, he was ultimately disappointed in the lacklustre play on show. He said:

“We didn't work the goalkeeper enough but you have to give St Johnstone credit too. There was a flatness about us, a lethargy, but that's just the games catching up."


Celtic’s next match sees Neil Lennon’s men travel north to take on Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday lunchtime.

The match will be a top of the table affair as the league’s second and third placed teams battle it out at Pittodrie. Aberdeen sit just behind the Hoops in the SPL which highlights the importance of the fixture.

Craig Brown’s side came out with an impressive 4-1 victory in their last match. Johnny Hayes, Niall McGinn, Chris Clark, and Mark Reynolds all got on the scoresheet as the Dons put four past St Mirren.

The winner of the match could find themselves temporary leaders of the Scottish Premier League.