July 19, 2024


Celtic maintained their eight-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a blistering start at 10-player St Mirren to earn a 3-0 victory.

Brendan Rodgers’ side built on their crucial 2-1 win over rivals Rangers last week by comfortably seeing-off the fifth-placed Saints.

Celtic raced into an early two-goal lead with Daizen Maeda scoring inside the opening 60 seconds before Matt O’Riley added a second within the first six minutes.

St Mirren’s task was made even harder when Toyosi Olusanya was shown a straight red card following a VAR check for a raised boot on goalkeeper Joe Hart in added time of the first half and Greg Taylor netted the third with an hour played to secure the win.

How Celtic eased to victory

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Celtic took an early lead against St Mirren after Daizen Maeda and Matt O’Riley scored two in the first six minutes.

Celtic were ahead after 55 seconds when O’Riley collected Callum McGregor’s forward pass and played the ball inside St Mirren wing-back Scott Tanser for Maeda to run onto and beat goalkeeper Zach Hemming.

O’Riley soon had his 10th league goal of the season. Luis Palma fed Paulo Bernardo’s run into the box and the Portuguese midfielder spun past Alex Gogic and teed up O’Riley, who sidestepped Tanser and slotted through Hemming’s legs.

PAISLEY, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 02: Celtic's Daizen Maeda celebrates with Alistair Johnston and Matt O'Riley after scoring to make it 1-0  during a cinch Premiership match between St Mirren and Celtic at the SMiSA Stadium, on January 02, 2024, in Paisley, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
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Celtic’s Daizen Maeda celebrates after opening the scoring inside 60 seconds

Maeda put in some dangerous crosses from the right as Celtic continued to control the game. They had further chances from set-pieces with Maik Nawrocki unable to get on the end of Kyogo Furuhashi’s flick-on and O’Riley heading beyond the far post.

St Mirren’s only first-half effort was an off-target strike from Olusanya following a loose pass from Liam Scales. And a rare attack late in the half only worsened their situation.

PAISLEY, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 02: Referee David Munro shows St Mirren's Toyosi Olusanya a red card for a high boot on Celtic's Joe Hart during a cinch Premiership match between St Mirren and Celtic at the SMiSA Stadium, on January 02, 2024, in Paisley, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
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Referee David Munro shows St Mirren’s Toyosi Olusanya a red card for a high boot on Celtic’s Joe Hart

Olusanya went in with a raised boot as Hart punched the ball clear and caught the Celtic goalkeeper in the face with his studs. Referee David Munro initially booked the St Mirren forward but was called to his monitor by video assistant referee Steven McLean and there was no surprise when he amended his card.

The second half started like an attack versus defence training routine as Taylor passed up a good chance to shoot and Palma shot over.

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Celtic go 3-0 against St Mirren after Greg Taylor volleyed Paulo Bernardo’s scoop over the goalkeeper.

Hemming made a brilliant save from O’Riley shortly before Bernardo’s beautiful lofted pass set up Taylor to volley home from six yards on the hour mark.

Furuhashi headed wide from close range and Brendan Rodgers brought on three players who will join Maeda at the Asian Cup this month – the forward’s Japan team-mate Reo Hatate and South Korea pair Yang Hyun-jun and Oh Hyeon-gyu.

Hemming kept the score down, pulling off point-blank saves from Yang and fellow substitute Liel Abada, twice each, and Oh.

Scales also headed off the post and Alistair Johnston missed a good chance as Celtic looked to boost their goal difference.

Should Olusanya have been sent off?

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St Mirren were reduced to 10 players after Toyosi Olusanya caught Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart in the face with his studs

Sky Sports’ Chris Sutton:

“Olusanya is entitled to commit for the cross. It’s a genuine attempt to put it in. Some people may look at that as dangerous play but Hart has dived down on that.

“I really feel for Olusanya. Sometimes in football, there are accidents. He’s trying to score a goal. What’s he supposed to do?”

Former Celtic captain Scott Brown:

“That’s a straight red, he’s kicked him in the face.”

Sky Sports’ Kris Boyd:

“There’s no doubt the ball is there and you’ve got to go and challenge it, but he’s nearly took his head off.”

Former Scotland striker James McFadden:

“It’s a red card.”

What’s next?

The Scottish Premiership now stops for the winter break, with all teams returning to action in the Scottish Cup.

St Mirren host Championship side Queen of the South on January 20 at 3pm.

Celtic face Highland League club Buckie Thistle at Parkhead on January 21. Kick-off 4pm.



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