Celtic 1-1 St Johnstone: Hasselbaink equaliser denies hosts top spot

The Parkhead side remain second in the SPL after the Dutchman's late goal cancelled out substitute Tony Watt's strike, leaving them without a win in three in the league
St Johnstone striker Nigel Hasselbaink scored a late goal to claim his side a point away to Celtic and deny the Scottish Premier League champions the chance to reclaim top spot.

Celtic looked to have replaced Hibernian at the summit of the league when Tony Watt came off the bench to claim his eighth goal of the season, but Hasselbaink salvaged a draw in the 77th minute.

The home side made just the one change from the side that beat Barcelona on Wednesday as skipper Scott Brown returned in place of Mikael Lustig, while St Johnstone made three changes, with Gary Miller, Steven Anderson and Gregory Tade replaced by David McCracken, Callum Davidson and David Robertson.

St Johnstone started brightly in the first half with Steven Maclean and McCracken involved in a chance in the box, but Efe Ambrose managed to clear.

However the Perth side were to suffer in the aftermath of the incident as McCracken was forced off the field with a suspected fractured cheekbone and he was replaced by Miller.

The home side did start to get forward, with Miku attempting to get onto a cross from the left by Charlie Mulgrew, but unfortunately for the on-loan Getafe striker, Frazier Wright got in front of him to clear.

Ambrose almost gave the visitors the opportunity to go ahead as his slack defending allowed both Maclean and Hasselbaink to break, but Kelvin Wilson got back to clear the danger.

Neil Lennon’s side pressed for the reminder of the half, however, with Victor Wanyama, Joe Ledley and Commons all having efforts to get the SPL champions into the lead, but none of them could find a way past the St Johnstone rearguard.

The Hoops boss made a change at break, with Miku, who was ineffective in the first 45 minutes, coming off and Watt replacing him.

The substitution paid off after just six minutes as Mulgrew played a long ball from the left to Watt and the young striker poked the ball home from close range to take the lead.

With quarter of an hour left St Johnstone almost drew level as Maclean got onto a Liam Craig cross from the left hand side, but his strike was superbly saved by Fraser Forster, who cleared the ball for a corner.

That corner would result in the equaliser as the ball was eventually played into Hasselbaink on the left hand side of the box and the Dutch striker managed to twist and turn his marker before rifling the ball into the roof of the Celtic net.

Celtic almost reclaimed their lead straight away as Mulgrew found substitute Beram Kayal on the edge of the area, but the midfielder’s strike went just over the St Johnstone bar and the Bhoys were forced to settle for a point.