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Saints and Hoops miss glut of chances

St Johnstone 0-0 Celtic

Fresh appeal: St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright
Fresh appeal: St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright

By Ronnie Esplin

St Johnstone and Celtic both wasted a barrowload of chances to somehow draw a Scottish Premiership blank at McDiarmid Park.

Saints forward Michael O'Halloran might have scored three in an open first half with striker Leigh Griffiths and skipper Scott Brown coming close for the Hoops.

The second half followed along similar lines with Perth substitute James McFadden and Murray Davidson both hitting the post.

However, Parkhead winger James Forrest, one of six changes to Ronny Deila's starting line-up, missed a remarkable open goal.

With only a trip to Aberdeen remaining next week, Tommy Wright's men moved one point ahead of Dundee United, who have two games left.

Fourth place will take a Europa League spot if Inverness beat Falkirk in the William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden.

St Johnstone could have made their European quest easier if they had a cutting edge, although they might have ended the night with nothing.

The first chance of an open game fell to the visitors from a corner in the 10th minute.

Stuart Armstrong's cross was headed towards goal by Ambrose but Griffiths could not get enough on to the ball from a yard out and Perth keeper Alan Mannus smothered on the line.

Moments later, at the other end, Zaluska stretched high to his left to claw away a fine strike by Davidson with Tierney completing the clearance.

There was little thought to defending, apparently, as the near misses mounted up .

But the best chance of the night was missed when Celtic broke through Forrest.

The Hoops winger rounded Mannus but somehow missed the target from six yards.

This fittingly summed up the night, although there was time for Davidson to hit woodwork in added time and Mannus to save again from Griffiths.

St Johnstone: Mannus, Miller (Caddis 71), Anderson, Scobbie, Easton, Wotherspoon, Millar, Davidson, Swanson (Lappin 86), MacLean (McFadden 79), O'Halloran. Subs Not Used: Wright, Graham,Banks,Kane.

Celtic: Zaluska, Matthews, Ambrose, Denayer (Mulgrew 46), Tierney (Izaguirre 69), Brown, Armstrong, Forrest, Commons (Scepovic 71), Mackay-Steven, Griffiths. Subs Not Used: Guidetti, Rogic, Fasan, Fisher.

Attendance: 6,984

Referee: Crawford Allan (Scotland)

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