Celtic 1-1 St Johnstone: Callum McGregor strikes to preserve unbeaten run
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 28/08/17 10:51am
Celtic's long unbeaten domestic run was under threat from St Johnstone until substitute Callum McGregor's late strike earned the home side a 1-1 draw.
The Hoops, unbeaten in 52 previous games against Scottish opponents, went into the Scottish Premiership encounter on a high after reaching the Champions League for the second successive season in midweek.
But a slack clearance from goalkeeper Craig Gordon left Steven MacLean with time and space to knock the ball into the net six minutes before the break.
Saints, the last Scottish side to beat Celtic in May 2016, survived a second-half onslaught until the 79th minute when McGregor, on for Anthony Ralston, eventually got the breakthrough with a low drive.
Both sides remain unbeaten in the league after four games, but it is Aberdeen who sit top of the table after their 4-3 win at Partick Thistle.
The afternoon did not start well for St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright, who had to turn to his bench after only a minute, midfielder Murray Davidson was carried off on a stretcher with a head knock and replaced by Liam Craig.
In the 21st minute Brown set up James Forrest at the edge of the box, but his low drive was well-saved by Saints keeper Alan Mannus down at his right-hand post.
However, the Perth side were not finding themselves under any sustained pressure and indeed on a break just on the half-hour mark Craig fizzed a shot over the bar.
The McDiarmid Park side went one step further with five minutes to go in the first half when Gordon's nonchalant clearance was blocked by Craig back to the unmarked MacLean, who turned and from 12 yards casually stroked the ball past the Celtic keeper.
Home boss Brendan Rodgers replaced OIivier Ntcham and James Forrest with Stuart Armstrong and Jonny Hayes for the start of the second half and in the 53rd minute Armstrong forced Mannus into a fine fingertip save under his bar with a 20-yard drive.
The treble-winners stepped up the pace, but Saints could have made it 2-0 when a brilliant cross from defender Brian Easton found MacLean, whose header from point-blank range was saved by Gordon, with the Saints striker toe-poking the loose ball into the side-netting.
There was uproar among the Hoops support in the 71st minute when MacLean was only booked by referee Willie Collum for lifting his arm at Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney.
Mannus made a terrific save from Leigh Griffiths' powerful drive from the edge of the box, but he had no chance when, during yet another Celtic attack, the ball broke to McGregor and from 16 yards he fired past a throng of players into the net.
In the frantic final stages, Sinclair struck the bar with an angled drive, Mikael Lustig headed off the bar and Mannus made a save at his back post from a Hayes header, with Saints hanging on through three tense added minutes for the point.