Celtic keep top spot after narrow win over St Mirren

Second-half goals from Cameron Carter-Vickers and Callum McGregor gave Celtic three more crucial Premiership points against St Mirren.

Arter-Vickers fired a shot from close range to ease the tension at Parkhead 10 minutes into the break after Celtic struggled to get past an away team with fine attacking play.

The opening goal didn’t start the game but Celtic’s lead was never threatened before McGregor doubled the lead in the 81st minute when he shot from inside the box.

The 2-0 victory helps the top team Rangers to be 3 points away with 9 matches remaining.

Manager Ange Postecoglou has warned leaders will face a battle in every game with every team in the league for something, and St Mirren has delivered.

Before the game, only Celtic had collected more Premiership points than St Mirren in 2022, despite the Buddies playing one game less than most teams.

Celtic are once again without Giorgos Giakoumakis, who missed Sunday’s goalless draw with Hibernian through illness, and they have twice missed his presence in the box.

St Mirren’s manager, Stephen Robinson, lines up five defenders with additional protection from Alan Power and Alex Gogic in central midfield. Greg Kiltie and Jordan Jones were tasked with supporting lone striker Curtis Main as they were not tied to defensive duties.

St Mirren was soon disqualified when Charles Dunne shot from the crossbar after Jota’s cross.

The Portuguese winger created two good chances from the left flank early. Jak Alnwick saved Liel Abada’s footwork and Josip Juranovic went too high with a decisive first move from outside the box.

Richard Tait’s low cross posed some danger on the other end, but Joe Hart managed it in the end.

Celtic’s best first-half chance came from a coordinated situation. Daizen Maeda overcame the keeper to catch Matt O’Riley’s free kick but narrowly missed the post.

There were clear signs of nervousness at the home side’s backing and clear opportunities proved elusive in the late stages of the game.

Both Maeda and Jota headed off goal with their backs to goal and Alnwick made a fine after his save.

The frustration was even more apparent shortly after the break when Celtic lost possession of the ball from a short corner and McGregor forced a reservation to prevent Jones from breaking.

A more direct set-up soon led to the opener. Jota served from the right after being fouled by Scott Tanser and Carl Starfelt made the first touch before Carter-Vickers volleyed from within six yards.

Postecoglou brought in the likes of Tom Rogic and James Forrest and Celtic continued to play most of the game in St Mirren’s innings without displaying their utmost fluency.

A close-range buffer after a good clearance from the right wing of Juranovic, whose last pass fell for McGregor to hit the far corner from 14 yards.

Postecoglou brought in Karamoko Dembele for the attacker’s first appearance since breaking his ankle in pre-season.

https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/celtic-keep-place-at-the-top-after-tight-win-over-st-mirren-41404962.html Celtic keep top spot after narrow win over St Mirren

Fry Electronics Team

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