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St Mirren vs Celtic. Scottish Premiership.

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St Mirren 0-0 Celtic: Hoops held to goalless Scottish Premiership draw as Rangers gap widens

Match report as Nir Bitton and Liel Abada go close for Celtic in the first half; St Mirren look dangerous on the break, but cannot find the net; Abada misses the chance to turn home a Callum McGregor cross in the second half; Celtic six points behind Rangers with 19 games played

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Highlights of the Scottish Premiership clash between St Mirren and Celtic

Celtic were held to a goalless draw by St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership, with the gap to Rangers at the top of the table now six points with both sides having played 19 games.

The match went ahead despite St Mirren's request for a postponement due to a Covid-19 outbreak among their squad. Celtic came into the match with the Scottish League Cup back in their trophy cabinet, having beaten Hibernian in Sunday's final.

But Ange Postecoglou's side were unable to find their way past the Saints defence, having made six changes from the weekend. Nir Bitton had a curling free-kick saved in the first half, with Liel Abada hitting the post on a tight angle.

Celtic continued to probe after the break - Abada twice missing superb crosses from Callum McGregor and Anthony Ralston - with St Mirren looking threatening on the break. However, Scott Bain was only really worked when Curtis Main fired into his arms after a quick Jay Henderson break.

The result leaves Celtic six points behind Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership table, although their Old Firm meeting on January 2 has been postponed until February. St Mirren will ultimately be pleased with the result given their pre-match request, remaining in ninth place.

How the stalemate played out

Celtic dropped points in a stalemate at St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership
Image: Celtic dropped points in a stalemate at St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership

There was little of note until the eighth minute when Michael Johnston slalomed into the St Mirren penalty area to fire in a powerful drive which was parried away by stand-in 'keeper Dean Lyness.

Moments later, Lyness, in for Jak Alnwick for his first game since a Premier Sports Cup tie in July, dived to his right to push away a goal-bound free-kick by Bitton for a corner which was defended.

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Celtic stepped up the pressure and Liam Scales, Anthony Ralston, Abada and skipper McGregor all had efforts which carried various degrees of danger.

The home side were penned in, unable to do much more than defend and at times, desperately, notwithstanding a shot from defender Charles Dunne in the 36th minute which hit the side-netting in a rare brief spell of Saints pressure.

Celtic's Anthony Ralston goes close during a Cinch Premiership match between St. Mirren and Celtic at SMiSA Stadium
Image: Celtic's Anthony Ralston goes close during the Scottish Premiership game

Without star striker Kyogo Furuhashi, who scored twice in the cup final but was left out to manage a hamstring problem, and no natural centre-forward, Celtic had lacked a cutting edge.

Three minutes after the break there was another example of that deficiency when Johnston shot straight at Lyness from a Ralston cut-back.

However, Celtic maintained control and again the Buddies were camped at the edge of their own box, repelling a series of passes and crosses.

Josip Juranovic, ostensibly a full-back, took over from the ineffectual Owen Moffat on the hour mark. The pressure remained incessant. Soon afterwards, a curling effort from McGregor was grabbed by Lyness at the second attempt.

Celtic's Liam Scales went close in the first half
Image: Celtic's Liam Scales went close in the first half

Then Buddies skipper Joe Shaughnessy cleared Johnston's effort from under the bar. Saints survived the corner and after a swift break by Henderson, he set up Main to fire straight at Bain.

Still Celtic drove forward. In the 75th minute, a Juranovic free-kick from 25 yards escaped Lyness' right-hand post.

Liam Shaw came on for Bitton seven minutes later, moments before Ralston's delicious delivery across the Buddies box again found no takers.

Daniel McManus replaced Kieran Offord in the 87th minute to make his Saints debut and help the home side see out five nervy minutes for a morale-boosting point.

What the managers said

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St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin says the goalless draw with Celtic was one of the best Scottish Premiership results the club have achieved considering the 11 absentees from the side

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin: "Yeah, it was my recommendation to the board that we should just refuse to play. But I think the sanctions and ramifications for the club would have been difficult.

"We won a legal battle last year when they tried to take points off us. I felt we could have done the same again.

"It doesn't matter now what we could or should have done. It's an incredible result, up there with the best points St Mirren have had in the Premiership.

"I take no credit for that. Every player, to a man, deserves the credit. We trained once in six days, we didn't do shape.

"Some of the boys only really met each other a few hours before the game. I am so proud of them."

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Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou reflects on a frustrating goalless draw at St Mirren and insists his side 'created enough chances to win three games'

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou: "We should have won the game. We created enough chances and we dominated the whole game but we lacked some composure and quality in the final third to finish them off.

"It wasn't a night when everything went right for St Mirren because we did a lot wrong. It wasn't really good defending, it was our own cause that we didn't score.

"We had enough chances to win a couple of games. If you don't take them, that's what you get. It's not down to personnel. We had good chances for the guys out there to take them.

"We should have won and if we'd more composure and people had been stronger in their intent, we would have done."

What's next?

Live SPFL

Both sides will be back in Scottish Premiership action on Boxing Day. Celtic are again on their travels, facing St Johnstone, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 12.30pm. St Mirren will take on Rangers at Ibrox; kick-off 3pm.

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