St Johnstone 1-1 Celtic: Hoops suffer title blip as Hasselbaink helps Saints claim a point

The Dutch striker helps the Perth side claim a draw against the SPL leaders after Efe Ambrose had looked to secure a seventh league win in a row
Celtic’s charge towards the SPL title took a bump after Nigel Hasselbaink’s late strike secured a point for St Johnstone.

The league leaders had looked to be cruising to yet another victory after Efe Ambrose’s first half header had them in command, but they failed to see the game out.

The home side made two changes from the side that lost at Ross County on Saturday, with Thomas Scobbie and Mark Doughty replacing Callum Davidson who dropped to the bench and Murray Davidson who out with injury.

Neil Lennon had only one change to make in his line-up, with Anthony Stokes dropping to the bench due to not training this week because of a family bereavement and Tunisian forward Lassad Nouioui took his place.

The first half was all about the league leaders, as they applied the pressure early on, with Charlie Mulgrew finding Gary Hooper with a long ball into the box, but the English striker could only direct his effort at the body of St Johnstone stopper Alan Mannus.

Lassad then had two chances to get the opener, as firstly he got his head to a Emilio Izaguirre cross, then he was played through by Victor Wanyama, but on both occasions the forward failed to find the target.

St Johnstone were given a glimpse of Fraser Forster’s goal after a mistake by Ambrose allowed on-loan Newcastle midfielder Mehdi Abeid a strike at goal, but he couldn’t find a way past his former teammate as his effort hit the side-netting.

That saw Celtic turn up the pressure even more, as Wanyama played the ball through the Saints defence to Joe Ledley, but the Welshman got caught in two minds, whether to strike at goal or play a pass to Kris Commons or Lassad, but he choose the strike which was saved by Mannus.

With seven minutes to go until the break, the St Johnstone goal was eventually breached as Commons played a short corner to Izaguirre and the Honduran crossed for Ambrose to rise unmarked and head into the net.

The Perth side thought they had got back on level terms early in the second half, after a superb free kick from the left wing by Abeid found the head of Steven MacLean, who thundered the ball past Forster, but the striker, was waved offside.

St Johnstone had the ball in the net once again midway through the half as Liam Craig swung in a free kick from the right wing, which found Frazer Wright, who headed the ball past Forster, but once again the assistant referee flagged the defender offside.

With 10 minutes remaining the home side finally got level as substitute Hasselbaink picked up the ball midway inside the Celtic half and moved forward, before curling the ball round Forster from the edge of the area.

Celtic were almost gifted a winner after Craig directed a Mulgrew cross towards his own goal, but Mannus was on his toes to clear.

Lennon's side were unable to find a winner and were ultimately forced to leave Perth with just a point.