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Deila's boys are feeling gr-eight after St Mirren win

St Mirren 0-2 Celtic

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic went eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a perfunctory 2-0 win over bottom side St Mirren in Paisley.

Buddies goalkeeper Mark Ridgers made good saves from Kris Commons and James Forrest in the first half but the latter opened the scoring in the 63rd minute when he finished off a fine move from close range.

A 79th minute penalty by Stefan Johansen widened the gap over second-placed Aberdeen with nine games remaining for both teams.

Saints remain four points behind second-bottom Motherwell, whom they play on Tuesday night after the Steelmen face Kilmarnock today.

With a tough fixture schedule coming up, Hoops manager Ronny Deila took the chance to freshen up his side. Commons, Forrest, Adam Matthews and Anthony Stokes returned to the starting line-up as Efe Ambrose, Gary Mackay-Steven, Nir Bitton and John Guidetti all started on the bench.

Celtic had picked up 13 wins and a draw in their last 14 league matches against the Paisley side and there seemed little chance of that record changing in the early stages.

After Stokes dragged an early drive wide, Commons had three attempts at making the breakthrough. The first was saved by Ridgers at the near post, the second hit the side-netting and he should have scored the third. But with only Ridgers to beat he blasted the ball straight at the St Mirren keeper.

Meanwhile, in the Celtic goal, Craig Gordon had been all but redundant until just before the half-hour mark when he stretched to save a Stephen Mallan header following a Sadlier cross.

Celtic's goal was a touch of class in what was otherwise a scrappy start to the second half.

Brown took the ball from Commons and quickly threaded a pass through a packed penalty area to Matthews. When the Wales defender cut the ball back, Forrest bundled it past Ridgers to some relief from the travelling fans.

The points were sealed when referee Alan Muir pointed to the spot after Genev handled Forrest's shot, with Johansen confidently knocking in the penalty to keep the League Cup winners on course for the treble.

Belfast Telegraph


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