Substitute Dembele hits 24-minute hat-trick as Celtic extend record run

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The striker had been linked strongly to the Premier League in January, and showed more of his talents in a crushing victory for the Bhoys

Moussa Dembele came off the bench as a second-half substitute to smash a 24-minute hat-trick in a 5-2 Scottish Premiership demolition of St Johnstone on Sunday, extending Celtic's record unbeaten run.

A 19th straight league victory sees Celtic stretch their advantage at the top of the Scottish Premier League to a virtually unassailable 27 points, while they have not lost any of their last 30 domestic matches.

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Their last loss was at St Johnstone in May 2016, but Dembele's impact from the bench ensured history would not be repeated at McDiarmid Park, although Brendan Rodgers' side had to come from 2-1 down at half-time.

Keith Watson's header and David Wotherspoon's deflected shot gave St Johnstone the lead after Liam Henderson scored early for the visitors, leading Rodgers to introduce reported Chelsea target Dembele after 59 minutes.

The striker immediately got Celtic back on terms by converting a controversial penalty, awarded for a Watson handball, then the in-demand striker finished off Mikael Lustig's cutback to put Celtic back in front.

Scott Sinclair made the points safe with a breakaway and Lustig and Callum McGregor combined superbly to set up Dembele for his hat-trick, which is sure to intensify interest in the 20-year-old, who has hit 23 goals in all competitions this season.

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