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Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

St Mirren 1-0 Celtic

By Thomas McGuigan

Billy Mehmet scores for St Mirren
Billy Mehmet is coolness personified as he strokes home the penalty

Billy Mehmet's penalty sent St Mirren into the last four of the Scottish Cup at the expense of a toothless Celtic.

Saints almost opened the scoring within two minutes but Garry Brady was denied by a superb Artur Boruc save.

Celtic striker Scott McDonald's header was correctly chalked off for offside in a goalless and drab first half.

The hosts broke the deadlock when Stephen McManus was yellow carded for scything down Craig Dargo and Mehmet fired Saints to a deserved victory.

St Mirren started brightly as they looked to avenge last weekend's bruising 7-0 defeat when the two sides met on league duty at Celtic Park.

They were compact and tenacious in the tackle; giving the Celtic midfielders little time on the ball and ensuring McDonald and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink got little joy in the opening 45 minutes.

Brady forced Boruc into punching clear within two minutes after the midfielder found himself free on the right inside the 18-yard box.

Celtic almost took the lead with their first foray forward in the sixth minute when right-back Andreas Hinkel sent a wicked low cross into the area, but Vennegoor of Hesselink was unable to force the ball home at the back post.

The visitors had a goal chalked off in the 14th minute when McDonald was rightly flagged offside after he glanced home Shunsuke Nakamura's from close range.

Aiden McGeady danced past a couple of challenges before trying to thread the ball through to McDonald six minutes before the break, but the Saints defence was alive to the danger.

And the tireless Andy Dorman whipped the ball away from McDonald on the stroke of half-time after the Australian striker was played in by Nakamura.

The start to the second half was just as cagey as the first and Celtic defender Darren O'Dea had the first effort on goal when he headed over from Nakamura's corner.

But St Mirren shook the game to life after 54 minutes when they broke the deadlock in dramatic circumstances.

Shunsuke Nakamura (centre) battles for possession with St Mirren pair Mo Camara and Jack Ross (right)
St Mirren never allowed Celtic's midfield to settle into the game

Dargo sprinted towards goal and McManus chopped down the striker just as he was about to pull the trigger.

The Celtic captain was shown a yellow card for the foul, with team-mate Gary Caldwell's tracking run saving McManus from a straight red.

Mehmet took the penalty and slotted the ball low to Boruc's left-hand corner.

Saints's goal stung Celtic into action with McGeady and Nakamura looking to breach the home defence, but with little conviction.

Celtic's problems in front of goal were compounded when the out-of-sorts Vennegoor of Hesselink received a yellow card for handling in the box as he mistimed a diving header.


St Mirren almost doubled their lead after 73 minutes when Hinkel failed to deal with Brady's corner and Marc Crosas blocked Dargo's close range shot.

Georgios Samaras was then introduced for the Spanish midfielder as Celtic looked to find an equaliser, but their attacks were too often ponderous and lethargic.

Dorman was denied by a good Boruc block and a McManus lunge prevented Dargo from snaffling up the rebound.

Vennegoor of Hesselink completed his and Celtic's miserable afternoon when he headed straight at goalkeeper Chris Smith from eight yards.

Saints held on to secure a place in the last four as Celtic bowed out at the quarter-final stages for the second year running.

St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson:
"The players didn't disappoint anyone. We won the game, and for the criticism that certain individuals took last week, which sometimes you've got to take on the chin.

"But you always become a stronger player for it, and I think young Chris Smith really stood up to the plate today.

"He made the right decisions and he looked a real, solid reliable goalkeeper.

"We dug in when we had to dig in and defended properly.

"I credit them all, but most notably Chris Smith."

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:
"We weren't the best team. I thought it was an equal game, and they capitalised on a mistake and worked extremely hard to make sure we didn't score.

"They're through, so whatever the plan was that they had, it succeeded.

"I can't explain it, unless you've been a manager, there's no way I can, there's no words to describe how you feel.

"We'll try and get over this first and see how we bounce back, only time will tell. "

St Mirren : Smith, Ross, Potter, Haining, Camara, Dorman, Murray, Thomson, Brady, Mehmet, Dargo (Wyness 90). Subs Not Used: Howard, Hamilton, Barron, McGinn.

Booked : Dorman, Thomson.

Goals : Mehmet 55 pen.

Celtic : Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, O'Dea (Conroy 83), Nakamura, Crosas (Samaras 74), Scott Brown, McGeady, McDonald, Vennegoor of Hesselink. Subs Not Used: Mark Brown, Hartley, Loovens.

Booked : McManus, Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Att : 5,925

Ref : C Richmond

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: St Mirren's Andy Dorman 7.50 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Scottish Cup photo gallery
07 Mar 09 |  Scotland

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