How Celtic overwhelmed 10-man St Mirren with David Turnbull hat-trick punishing Alan Power dismissal
If Ange Postecoglou were entered into a best-dressed competition right now, you suspect his simple black jumper and grey slack combo would have no equal for the judging fashionistas. The Celtic manager and his team just seem to have every possible blessing from the Gods right now.
Another win, another mauling of a Scottish opponent, another hat-trick for one of his game-changers, with 24 goals in six straight wins – the last five of them in their home surrounds – the patronage of Postecoglou is delivering Celtic from the blackness of last season and into a blinding light.
There was oodles to marvel over in the 6-0 slaying of St Mirren, not least the first triple of David Turnbull’s senior career. But it also must be said that with the brilliance Celtic enjoyed the breaks. It is as if this campaign is the ying to last term’s yang, in that respect. Turnbull will care nothing of that, and rightly so. He could simply delight in claiming the match ball, at the start of a monster week for the club that takes them to Alkmaar for their Europa League play-off decider on Thursday, before the derby away to Rangers on Sunday.
“I've been close a few times but I was delighted to get that third one, it was a great feeling,” Turnbull said. “I still think there's more to come from me. Today was a great game for me personally and the team. But we're playing brilliantly well at the moment. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and add even more. The form we've come into this season is outstanding and relentless. It's great to play in and everything is clicking right now. Long may it continue.”
Celtic would have overwhelmed their pulled-apart Paisley opponents whatever had ensued across the afternoon, but it sure as heck made it easier that Alan Power contrived to earn himself a red-card for a horrible, reckless challenge on Turnbull on 19 minutes. Or that visiting keeper Jak Alnwick hardly covered himself in glory for three of the four goals to which Celtic helped themselves before the interval. In addition, at 2-0, St Mirren had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside, Anthony Ralston playing Curtis Main on when he knocked in from a Greg Kiltie knock-down.
You make your own luck, of course, and the relentless manner in which Postecolgou’s men hound and harass in the final third does strange things to their opponents. It allowed Celtic to wrap up another three points across an incredible incident-strewn 11 minutes that produced three home goals, Power’s dismissal, and Main’s phantom strike.
There were 17 on the clock when Liel Abada drifted inside and curled an effort that Alnwick seemed unsighted for as he got hands on it and yet could not prevent it drifting into the net. Maybe Power was angry about that cheap concession. But whatever possessed him to throw himself at Turnbull two minutes later and, off the ground, utterly wipe out the midfielder as he raced down the left flank, he should have walked even before referee Willie Collum brandished him the inevitable colour of card.
Four minutes later, Greg Taylor, with a run to the byline, hung up a cross to the back post that Abada headed into the ground with the ball then bouncing over the St Mirren keeper.
Main’s misfortune came in 27 minutes, and was compounded by Turnbull producing a knuckle-ball style drive within seconds, the wobble-serve seeming to catch out Alnwick, who couldn’t fashion a strong enough hand to keep it out.
The first half damage was complete when the poor St Mirren no.1 slapped an Abada effort straight into the path of Turnbull to help himself to his second.
His third, the strike to make it six, didn’t roll around till the closing minutes, when he lofted over Alnwick from close in after Tom Rogic threaded the ball through to him. On an afternoon where the previously deadly Kyogo Furuhashi missed from two yards and Celtic found the goalframe on two occasions, goal no.5 on the hour was at least engineered by the Japanese attacker. He whipped in a cross from the left that Odsonne Edouard was able to bring under control - St Mirren complaining over an inadvertent grazing of his hand as he did so - and drill in at the second attempt.
The visitors’ preparations would have been upset by the loss of manager Jim Goodwin to a positive Covid-19 test in the lead-up to their Glasgow trip, but, in reality, there was always the likelihood they would suffer the fate that is becoming common to those making that journey. Assistant manager Lee Sharp, though, managed to harbour a sense of injustice.
“It's a difficult place to come with 11 men on the park. Going down to 10 so early on obviously made it a lot tougher,” he said, revealing he had been in constant dialogue with Goodwin before it. “Any game plan we had went out the window at that point. We had to regroup and try to make things as hard as possible for Celtic.
"On the decision, Alan should possibly stay on his feet. He doesn't have to go to ground. But I've seen tackles like that given as yellow cards. A few moments later, Christie had one on [Ethan] Erhahon that was very similar on the far side. He wasn't even booked so you're just looking for it to be evened up. Big decisions went against us.
"At 2-0 down we were trying to get ourselves back in the game and we got a goal chalked off that was perfectly fine, onside. I'm not saying we would have got anything from the game but at 2-1, the boys would have got a lift and a bit more belief.”
Celtic: Hart; Ralston, Welsh, Starfelt, Taylor; Turnbull, McGregor (Soro 67), Christie; Abada, Edouard (Ajeti 83), Furuhashi (Rogic 67). Unused substitutes – Bain, Bitton, Soro, Rogic, Urhoghide, Montgomery.
St Mirren: Alnwick; Fraser, Shaughnessy, McCarthy; Flynn (MacPherson 46), Power, McGrath, Erhahon, Tanser; Kiltie (Brophy 46 6), Main (McAllister 70). Unused substitutes – Tait, Brophy, McAllister, Finlayson, Erwin, Lyness.
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