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Saturday, 3 November, 2001, 14:42 GMT
Last-minute hero Larsson
Henrik Larsson and Celtic would not be denied
Henrik Larsson and Celtic would not be denied
St Johnstone 1-2 Celtic

Henrik Larsson curled home a free-kick in injury time to maintain Celtic's charge to the defence of their Scottish title.

But it had looked for a long time like bottom side St Johnstone would gain a creditable and deserved draw at McDiarmid Park.

Saints defender Darren Dods had scored at both ends in the first half and that was set to be the story of the day until that late strike by the Swede.

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill had opted to freshen his side up by bringing in John Hartson, Stilian Petrov and Alan Thompson for Lubo Moravcik, Paul Lambert and Bobo Balde as Chris Sutton reverted to defence.

St Johnstone introduced Benito Kemble and Willie Falconer for Stuart McCluskey and John Paul McBride, while on loan Manchester United youngster Mark Lynch made his home debut.

Darren Dods cannot believe his own goal
Darren Dods cannot believe his own goal
St Johnstone matched Celtic from the start but suffered a blow after 17 minutes when striker Keigan Parker had to go off injured and was replaced by Rachid Djebaili.

The Perth side were behind a minute later, when Stilian Petrov got in behind the home defence and his cross to the near post was headed into his own net by the diving Dods.

He made amends eight minutes later when Paul Hartley's corner was headed home by the defender from 10 yards.

It was the second time in two seasons the St Johnstone player had achieved such a feat, having scored at both ends in a 2-2 draw with St Mirren.

Thompson came close to restoring Celtic's lead after 29 minutes when his curling free kick struck the junction of the bar and post.

St Johnstone were still dangerous and a powerful Nick Dasovic drive flew straight to goalkeeper Rab Douglas.

Then Kemble's header was kicked clear from the face of the goal by Sutton.

Darren Dods scored at the other end
Darren Dods scored at the other end
Celtic's had claims for a penalty waved away when Larsson attempted to force home a Hartson header.

The Englishman had two chances of his own at the stroke of half-time but completely missed with his first swipe then volleyed wide seconds later.

Hartley squandered a chance with a diving header in front of goal early in the second half.

Larsson and Hartson had half chances at the other end as Celtic put on the pressure.

But Paddy Connolly had an attempt turned round the Celtic post by Johan Mjallby as Saints almost stole victory.

Just when it looked like finishing a draw, Dasovic conceded a free kick on the edge of the box and Larsson curled the ball into the back post.

St Johnstone: Miller, Murray, Dods, Kemble, Parker, Dasovic, Lynch, Falconer, Hartley, Connolly, Lovenkrands. Subs: Cuthbert, Jones, McBride, Djebaili, Macdonald.

Celtic: Douglas, Mjallby, Sutton, Valgaeren, Agathe, Lennon, Petrov, Thompson, Petta, Larsson, Hartson. Subs: Kharine, Sylla, Lambert, Maloney, Crainey.

Referee: D McDonald.

BBC Sport's Andy Gilles
"This was an extraordinary match"
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"I've never seen St Johnstone play like that"
St Johnstone manager Billy Stark
"We certainly took the game to Celtic whenever we got the opportunity"
Links to more Scot Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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