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St. Johnstone vs Celtic. Scottish Premiership.

McDiarmid ParkAttendance8,743.

St. Johnstone 0

    Celtic 3

    • O Ntcham (6th minute)
    • J Forrest (20th minute)
    • L Griffiths (26th minute)

    St Johnstone 0-3 Celtic: Olivier Ntcham sparks first-half rout as leaders cruise

    Olivier Ntcham, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths on target

    2:04
    Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between St Johnstone and Celtic

    Celtic maintained their cushion at the top of the Scottish Premiership after sweeping aside St Johnstone in the opening half hour to win 3-0 on Wednesday.

    Olivier Ntcham, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths struck inside 27 minutes as Neil Lennon's leaders overran the Perth side to maintain their five-point lead over Rangers, who also won.

    Celtic now have an aggregate score of 30-0 against Saints in the past nine games.

    How Hoops eased to victory

    Celtic's James Forrest celebrates making it 2-0 at St Johnstone with Callum McGregor
    Image: Celtic's James Forrest celebrates making it 2-0 at St Johnstone with Callum McGregor

    Lennon lined up with Forrest and Greg Taylor as advanced wing-backs ahead of a back three with Griffiths partnering Odsonne Edouard up front and St Johnstone could not cope with the waves of first-half attacks.

    The champions lost their intensity after the break but Tommy Wright's side deserve credit for competing after earlier looking like they were headed for a repeat of the 7-0 thrashing they suffered at Parkhead on the opening day of the league season.

    Craig Gordon 0:59
    Neil Lennon says goalkeeper Craig Gordon is required at Celtic for the rest of the season amid interest from Hearts

    Celtic could have been ahead even before Ntcham's sixth-minute opener. Edouard had a shot saved and Griffiths missed a good headed chance from left-back Greg Taylor's cross.

    But the opener came from the other flank as Forrest delivered a cross for Ntcham to head home unmarked from six yards out.

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    Celtic kept attacking. Taylor had a shot parried, Griffiths was denied by a good block from the follow-up and Callum McGregor fired just wide from 20 yards, while Zander Clark had to save a sliced clearance from team-mate Jason Kerr.

    Celtic's Olivier Ntcham celebrates his opener against St Johnstone
    Image: Celtic's Olivier Ntcham celebrates his opener against St Johnstone

    Michael O'Halloran and Ali McCann had shots comfortably saved at the other end but it was otherwise one-way traffic.

    The second goal came in the 20th minute after McGregor fed Forrest inside the box. The wing-back took one step outside Scott Tanser and fired into the far corner.

    Celtic's intensity increased further. Griffiths forced a save, Edouard cut through the heart of the Saints defence and trundled a shot just wide, and McGregor mis-kicked after being set up by Forrest.

    Celtic's Leigh Griffiths celebrates making it 3-0 at St Johnstone
    Image: Celtic's Leigh Griffiths celebrates making it 3-0 at St Johnstone

    That was all in the seven-minute hiatus between goals before Griffiths volleyed home Taylor's cross from 12 yards.

    Celtic took off pre-match injury doubt Jozo Simunovic at half-time and brought on Moritz Bauer, moving Scott Brown further back.

    Saints had the better of the chances in the second half. David Wotherspoon's bouncing effort was parried wide by Fraser Forster and Kerr saw his header cleared off the line by Celtic substitute Patryk Klimala but the game was long won for the visitors.

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