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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 17:48 GMT
Larsson silences critics
Henrik Larsson drives home the equaliser for Celtic
Henrik Larsson scored the equaliser for Celtic
Celtic 2-1 St Johnstone


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Henrik Larsson went some way to silencing his critics as he helped Celtic plunge St Johnstone deeper into relegation trouble.

The Swedish international's bottle was questioned last week after he passed the penalty-taking duties to John Hartson.

But Larsson produced the kind of finishing he showed during last season's record-breaking season to bring the Scottish Premier League leaders back into the game at Celtic Park.

Darren Dods had given the side languishing at the bottom a surprise early lead before Larsson pounced quickly to re-establish equalibrium.

Two goals in two minutes, the second from Alan Thompson, were enough to end thoughts of a shock result.

Keeper Alan Miller had a nightmare game
Keeper Alan Miller had a nightmare game
Celtic had made two changes from the side that beat Kilmarnock 2-0 at Rugby Park last week.

Lubo Moravcik and Olivier Tebily were in for the injured Neil Lennon and Bobo Balde.

There were 51 points separating the sides as the game kicked off at Celtic Park.

The home side sought to confirm that gulf in class as they laid early seige to the Saints defence.

A low drive from Petrov was pushed away by on-loan Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Alan Miller and Dods had to head over his own bar.

But St Johnstone scored after five minutes in their first foray forward.

Paul Hartley crossed to the back post and Dods rose above Tebily and sent a looping header into the far corner of the net.

The home fans packing Celtic Park had only four minutes of worry before Larsson equalised.

Scorer Darren Dods tackles Olivier Tebily
Scorer Darren Dods tackles Olivier Tebily
Paul Lambert was allowed to advance towards the edge of the area and, when he played the ball into the Swede's path, the striker had evaded his marker sufficiently to blast the ball into the roof of the net from 16 yards.

Another two minutes and another goal, Miller allowing Thompson's curling but hardly powerful free kick to bounce over his body.

Celtic could afford the luxury of another example of Larsson's fragile form when the Swede was clear six yards out but ended up missing his volley and backsiding the ball to safety.

Hartson had the ball in the net straight from the restart with a superb half-volley only to be pulled up for offside.

The Welsh striker then sent a drive into the side netting from the edge of the box.

But Celtic largely strolled to victory for the remainder of the second half.

Celtic: Douglas, Mjallby, Tebily, Valgaeren, McNamara, Lambert, Petrov, Moravcik (Petta 67), Thompson, Larsson, Hartson.

Subs Not Used: Gould, Sylla, Maloney, Smith.

St Johnstone: Miller, Dods, McCluskey, Falconer, Murray, Lynch, Kane (Jones 81), Hartley, McCulloch (McClune 62), Djebaili, Russell (Connolly 76).

Subs Not Used: Cuthbert, Macdonald.

Booked: Kane, Djebaili.

Att: 58,547

Ref: K Toner

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Jim Spence
"Celtic were stung into action and they responded clinically"
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"I am delighted with the position we are in at the moment"
St Johnstone manager Billy Stark
"We've scored at Celtic Park which a lot of teams don't do"
Links to more Scot Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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