The story of Celtic's 2-0 win over St Johnstone: Ange Postecoglou's men are becoming a team supposed to be beyond them

Celtic’s world has turned in a manner considered unimaginable six weeks ago.

Celtic's Josip Juranovic celebrates his penalty strike that sealed a comfortable 2-0 win for Celtic in their home encounter with  St Johnstone. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic's Josip Juranovic celebrates his penalty strike that sealed a comfortable 2-0 win for Celtic in their home encounter with St Johnstone. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Then, Ange Postecoglou was being told by all and sundry his defence was not fit for purpose and would stymie his lofty ambitions for the attack-minded football.

A number of interesting sidelines emerged from the 2-0 victory that Celtic secured at home to a camped-in St Johnstone they largely reduced to bystanders. Celtic now possess the best defensive record in the cinch Premiership in conceding only six times in their 10 games - a total they share with high-flying Dundee United. Moreover, with their 2-0 triumph over Ferencvaros in the Europa League on Tuesday, they have now clocked up three straight successes by this scoreline.

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Not once was their goal threatened by a visiting Perth team that sought to squeeze the life out of Celtic but only succeeded in becoming sitting ducks. Celtic didn’t merely enjoy 80% possession. After feeling their way into the contest, they enjoyed 100% control. This command and discipline has now been evident across their 2-0 sequence - which began with the victory by that margin to Motherwell at Fir Park last weekend.

There is a patience and assurance developing within Celtic’s play that revolves around them trusting themselves to tire out opponents with their keep-ball and probing. It meant early stretches of their latest encounter were hardly thrill-a-minute but it is no co-incidence that, as with Ferencvaros, it gave way to a chancefest in the final 15 minutes.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou mixed his team and his growing midas touch was reflected in the afternoon enjoyed by Giorgos Giakoumakis on his long-awaited first start in Celtic colours, following his deadline day arrival in £2.5m move from VVV Venlo.

The bustling striker’s inclusion meant Kyogo Furuhashi moving to wide right from a central role, which allowed Postecoglou to rest the increasingly tired-looking Liel Abada. Furuhashi’s potency and influence, captured in his return of nine goals, is blunted when utilising him further from goal. But Giakoumakis balanced that equation by showing his predatory instinct to sharply turn in from point-blank range a driven-in cross from the right by Anthony Ralston. The Celtic right-back showed good presence of mind to thump the ball over first-time with precision when Callum Booth failed to connect with an attempted clearance. A deflected Josip Juranovic foxing the wing-back when it bounced in front of him.

It was the uncertain defensive moment St Johnstone couldn’t afford with their smothering strategy. From then, they never looked like doing anything else but losing by a greater margin from that point. So it proved with Liam Gordon clattering Furuhashi as he burrowed into the box in the 79th minute, the Japanese attacker by then restored to a central striking role with Giakoumakis withdrawn after an hour. Juranovic sent Zander Clark the wrong way to ensure that Celtic continue on the right track with a fourth straight win. A sequence that will be tested when they face Hibs at Easter Road on Wednesday.

Celtic: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Juranovic; McGregor; Furuhashi (Abada 81), Turnbull, Rogic, Jota (Ajeti 86), Giakoumakis (Johnston 60). Subs: Bain, Bitton, Montgomery, Welsh.

St Johnstone: Clark; Ambrose, Gordon, McCart; Brown, Bryson, MacPherson, Booth; Middleton (Crawford 63); Kane (Vertainen 85), Wotherspoon (May 70). Subs: Parish, Devine, Muller, Craig.

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