Celtic 4 St Johnstone 0: Easy does it for the Bhoys as Lennon's men celebrate SPL title success in style

By Ronnie Esplin, Press Association

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Celtic confirmed their status as Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions on the day they received the SPL trophy with a thumping win over St Johnstone at Parkhead.

The game was over almost before it had really started as midfielder Joe Ledley fired the home side ahead in the second minute before defender Charlie Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick in the 36th minute evaded everyone before nestling in the net for number two.

James Forrest made it three early in the second half as Celtic refused to allow the Taysiders out of a tight grip which had turned the afternoon into a non-contest, with Saints stopper Frazer Wright putting through his own goal in the final seconds.

Cup of joy: Scott Brown lifts the SPL trophy for Celtic

Cup of joy: Scott Brown lifts the SPL trophy for Celtic

All smiles: Celtic boss Neil Lennon proudly shows off the SPL trophy

All smiles: Celtic boss Neil Lennon proudly shows off the SPL trophy

MATCH FACTS

Celtic: Forster ,Izaguirre (Kayal 84) Wilson, Mulgrew, Lustig, Brown (Samaras 61), Ledley, Forrest (McGeouch 72) Wanyama, Stokes, Hooper.
Subs not used: Zaluska, Matthews, Ambrose, McCourt.

Goals: Ledley 2, Mulgrew 36, Forrest 51, Wright 90 (og).

Booked: Lustig, Samaras, Forrest, Wanyama.

St Johnstone: Mannus, MacKay Wright, Anderson, Scobbie (Davidson 60), Cregg, Davidson, Craig, Tade, MacLean (Caddis 74'), Vine (Hasselbaink 61).
Subs not used: Tuffey, Miller, Gwion Edwards, Doughty.

Booked: Wright, Cregg, Davidson, Vine.

Referee: Alan Muir.

Attendance: 57,000.

Skipper Scott Brown, who returned for the first time in three months after recovering from surgery to solve an abductor problem, was handed the trophy on the presentation platform from a representative of the league's sponsors to huge cheers from the Hoops fans, who, after some indifferent displays and results recently, saw their side back to its best.

Celtic now look ahead to clinching the double when they play Hibernian in the William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park in a fortnight's time.

Manager Neil Lennon had most of his big guns back in the side including keeper Frazer Forster, Mulgrew, Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper while Kris Commons was out with a stomach bug.

The Saints players applauded the champions on to the park before kick-off but would not have wanted to extend that act of sportsmanship to giving the home side a goal of a start, which is exactly what Ledley's quick-fire opener represented.

Hooper looked like he handled Anthony Stokes' long ball as the Parkhead side broke but referee Alan Muir allowed play to continue, probably certain that Tom Scobbie would clear. However, the Perth defender mis-kicked inside his own box to Brown and the visitors were in trouble.

Hooper regained possession, passed to Forrest who set up Ledley at the edge of the box and the Wales midfielder rifled an unstoppable drive past the flailing Alan Mannus.

Perfect start: Joe Ledley fires Celtic in front

Perfect start: Joe Ledley fires Celtic in front

From then on it was one-way traffic as the champions pressed for number two. Ledley's cut-back from the by-line was missed by Hooper with the McDiarmid Park defence scrambling the ball away before defender Mikael Lustig headed a Mulgrew free-kick past the far post from eight yards.

In the 19th minute the Celtic fans applauded in tribute to former Hoops player Stiliyan Petrov who announced his retirement from the game this week as he continues his battle against illness.

In the 28th minute Stokes pounced on a Hooper cross at the near post but flicked the ball just over the bar, moments before Mannus made a good save down at his right-hand side from Lustig's low drive from inside the box. The tireless Brown was then denied a goal by the chest of Saints defender Frazer Wright, after being set up for a shot by Hooper.

Happy days: James Forrest celebrates scoring Celtic's third goal

Happy days: James Forrest celebrates scoring Celtic's third goal

It seemed only a matter of time until Celtic doubled their lead and it came when Gregory Tade was penalised for a foul on the Parkhead captain, 35 yards from goal on the right-hand side. A trademark delivery from Mulgrew zipped past several heads inside the packed six-yard box and past Mannus into the far corner.

Amid a late first half battering for Saints, Mannus made a good save from Forrest at the expense of a corner which came to nothing before the keeper then saved from Emilio Izaguirre.

Within seconds of the restart Saints midfielder Liam Craig volleyed a cross from Steven MacLean over the bar at the back post, indicating that the Taysiders were looking to make a better fist of the second period.

However, in the 51st minute, just after Wanyama and Rowan Vine were booked for a spat, Celtic increased their lead further following another speedy break, when Hooper set up Forrest to shoot low past Mannus.

Fan-tastic: Celtic supporters celebrates another title success at Parkhead

Fan-tastic: Celtic supporters celebrates another title success at Parkhead

The Scotland winger had the chance to double up in the 58th minute when Stokes worked brilliantly to set him up 14 yards out but he blazed the ball high over the bar. Georgios Samaras missed a great chance in the 68th minute when the St Johnstone defence hesitated in dealing with a deflected Izaguirre cross, the Greece international flicking his leg at the ball which flew wide from eight yards.
Not that it mattered much.

The game was well over, the final result was the only thing up for grabs. Forster made his first save of the game in the 78th minute from Nigel Hasselbaink and as the game petered out, Hooper missed with a header from close range, after getting on to the end of another fine Mulgrew cross.

However, there was time for Wright to compound his side's miserable afternoon when he headed a Mulgrew corner into his own net.

Notwithstanding the last league game of the campaign against Dundee United next week, all eyes at Parkhead now turn to the cup final and the chance of the double.

 

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

- teddybear, larne, 11/5/2013 21:31 Tainted?! So rangers destroy themselves, get liquidated and that somehow makes Celtics title tainted? Explain your logic numpty?

Click to rate     Rating   19

The Scottish Premier league is a Joke League and coming top of a league of nobodies is hardly an achievement. It and the Northern Irish league should be dissolved as soon as possible as the only thing that seems to thrive in both those leagues, is sectarianism.

Click to rate     Rating   19

@ Elsie. Hollow???? You can only beat what's in front of you. We did it and we won the league. Trust me, winning the title without the dead club doesn't make it any less sweeter! Without the financial cheats involved, winning against clubs who pay their taxes and don't operate scams in order to deceive the authorities could be classed as a clean win. Life's good without them. Let them die in peace. No 45 coming up next year for Scotland's most successful active club.

Click to rate     Rating   22

some of these comments show how sad some people are.beating Barcelona was" lucky " ha ha! Celtic won the title fairly without cheating.rangers (who went bust) were found guilty of cheating for many years. now tell me which titles are tainted" for some reason Celtic shouldnt celebrate this win due to the cheating and mismanagement of a now defunct club.is St.Mirrens cup win tainted also.if Hibs win the scottish cup is it tainted?. get used to it .

Click to rate     Rating   25

They won the league!!! Give them some credit! I agree, Celtic have missed Rangers this year for a real challenge (no offence to the rest of the SPL) but Rangers themselves struggles with some 0f their games in the third division....

Click to rate     Rating   22

Lennon is begging for a return to the Premier League!

Click to rate     Rating   21

Well, knock me down with a feather...

Click to rate     Rating   16

The Celtics won a Mickey Mouse Cup. Nothing special.

Click to rate     Rating   28

Lennon finishes the season with the lowest points total ever as winners of SPL with no credible opposition , you couldn't find a more hollow victory.

Click to rate     Rating   20

Saj, England, Rangers no longer exist, however there is The Rangers FC established 2012. A new team with new players and history, nothing remotely like RFC of old. The key players in the old team walked away when the going tough ie administration, liquidation, Green and Whyte. They may someday get into the SPL but not for a long time. By the way, please don't underestimate the other teams in the SPL, some of them give the Celts a run for their money.

Click to rate     Rating   18

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