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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 April 2007, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
St Johnstone 1-2 Celtic
By Colin Moffat

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink celebrates his opening goal
Vennegoor of Hesselink celebrates his opening goal at Hampden
Celtic remain on course for a domestic Double after a hard-fought win over a battling St Johnstone in their Scottish Cup semi-final.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink netted an early penalty but the Perth side hit back with a lob from Martin Hardie.

Celtic's Dutch striker then grabbed his second goal with a straightforward header from a corner.

The First Division side turned in an impressive display and the Celtic defence was kept busy throughout.

St Johnstone squandered a great early chance when Jason Scotland ran clear of the Celtic defence only to delay his shot, allowing Stephen McManus to recover and make a lunging block.

Celtic were handed a 12th minute penalty when Vennegoor of Hesselink latched on to a poor defensive header and went down as goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert sprawled across the turf.


The Saints keeper got nowhere near the ball but neither did he make contact with the Dutch international, who fired home the spot-kick via a post.

It was tough luck on Owen Coyle's side but they responded with a fine equaliser six minutes later.

Paul Sheerin's pass found Hardie who cleverly flicked the ball over advancing keeper Artur Boruc, while McManus could only head the lobbed effort into his own net from underneath the crossbar.

Saints could have scored again when Peter MacDonald burst through on goal but he fired straight into the arms of Boruc.

Celtic forward Derek Riordan did well to squeeze past two players only for his close-range shot to be blocked by Cuthbert.

The St Johnstone keeper then had to tip away a Vennegoor of Hesselink header before Aiden McGeady sliced the ball over the bar from a decent position and Riordan headed over.

Following a sluggish first 45 minutes, the Celtic midfield came to life after the restart and Paul Hartley burst forward only for Cuthbert push away his stinging shot.

However, the keeper was picking the ball out of the net moments later when Vennegoor of Hesselink rose to head in a Shunsuke Nakamura corner.

Riordan then stole in behind the Saints defence but made a mess of an attempted lob as Cuthbert raced out.

St Johnstone rallied again and Boruc gathered a chip from MacDonald after the striker had wriggled away from two opponents.

Celtic defender Lee Naylor had to make a great sliding block as Scotland turned to shoot eight yards from goal.

Boruc was at full-stretch to hold a powerful header from Hardie and McManus made a goal-line clearance as Scotland squeezed a shot under the Polish goalkeeper.

Celtic were pressed back and defending in numbers as Saints skipper Kevin James headed another good chance over the crossbar.

With the game stretched in the closing stages, Cuthbert had to look smart to keep out a fierce shot from Celtic substitute Thomas Gravesen.

And Boruc made a flying save to beat away a Sheerin piledriver that was to be Saints' last chance.

St Johnstone: Cuthbert, Anderson, James, McManus, Stanic, Sheerin (McLaren 89), McInnes, Mensing (Morais 75), Hardie, Scotland, MacDonald.
Subs Not Used: Halliwell, Lawrie, Jackson.

Booked: McInnes, Mensing, Hardie.

Goals: Hardie 19.

Celtic: Boruc, Caldwell, Pressley, McManus, Naylor (O'Dea 90), Nakamura (Gravesen 78), Lennon, Hartley, McGeady, Riordan (Miller 65), Vennegoor of Hesselink.
Subs Not Used: McGovern, Beattie.

Booked: Lennon.

Goals: Vennegoor of Hesselink 13 pen, 54.

Att: 28,339.

Ref: C Richmond (Scotland).

Strachan happy with final place
14 Apr 07 |  Scottish Cups
Coyle finds defeat hard to take
14 Apr 07 |  St Johnstone
Saturday's photos
14 Apr 07 |  Scotland


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