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Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 14:22 UK

St Mirren   0 - 2   Celtic

By Keir Murray

Paddy McCourt scored a magnificent goal for Celtic
McCourt scored a magnificent goal for Celtic, running past five Saints players

Celtic moved five points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League with a win over St Mirren in a match that was brought to life by two fine goals.

Paddy McCourt had the travelling fans in raptures with a great first-half strike, beating five players before smacking a shot past Paul Gallacher.

An Andy Dorman glancing header and a Craig Dargo snap-shot were the Buddies' best chances in a hard-fought match.

Shaun Maloney curled a shot home in 78 minutes to guarantee the points.

The big news at kick-off was the absence from the Celtic line-up of Gary Caldwell, currently in a contract dispute at the club and dropped in favour of captain Stephen McManus.

St Mirren were searching for their first league win at their new ground and their first league victory over Celtic in 19 years.

With closest rivals Rangers not playing until later on Saturday, Celtic knew a win would put pressure on their city rivals and mean they would be ahead of the Ibrox side for the first Old Firm match of the season.

But the early exchanges were characterised by both sides losing possession cheaply as time after time passes were over-hit and free-kicks were either delivered without sufficient loft or ballooned hopelessly.

Such was the lack of goalscoring threat, goalkeepers Paul Gallacher and Artur Boruc could have been forgiven for spreading a tartan rug in their goalmouth and enjoying a Saturday lunch-time picnic.

How that was to change for the home keeper, however, when McCourt scored a superb individual goal in the 27th minute to add to his goal in midweek against Falkirk.

Picking up the ball 30 yards out, he skipped past five St Mirren players, who offered nothing resembling a challenge, then, having run diagonally across the box, the Irishman smashed a shot beyond Gallacher.

St Mirren's lack of belief was betrayed in a terrible mess of a free-kick in 36 minutes, Garry Brady rolling the ball feebly straight at Celtic's two-man wall.

The visitors broke at pace up the left through Maloney and switched play to McCourt on the right flank to send over a low cross that Gallacher parried to the feet of the advancing Chris Killen.

John Potter had followed the Kiwi's run and felled him when the striker pulled his leg back to shoot. Referee Charlie Richmond decided the clash was accidental.

The Buddies had just a few moves with which to encourage their fans at the interval.

A clipped Stephen McGinn free-kick deserved an effort on goal by a team-mate. Instead, Potter, as best-placed Saint, failed to connect at all with his head and the ball drifted harmlessly out of play.

Then Billy Mehmet finally managed to turn unleash a shot, but his effort was deflected a few yards wide by Hinkel.

At the start of the second half, the trickery of Daniel Fox and Maloney in the Saints box momentarily spelled danger, but an aggressive challenge by Murray kept the home goal intact.

Referees have been criticised in the past week, but Richmond had little choice but to produce yellow cards in a two-minute spell that saw Scott Brown, Killen and Potter let their tempers get the better of them.

A surging run from deep in 59 minutes by Landry N'Guemo fractured the spine of the St Mirren side.

His pass to substitute Georgios Samaras on the left wing looked promising, but the Greek's low cross was cut out by Chris Innes, making his second debut for the Buddies after a loan spell from Kilmarnock 10 years ago.

Andy Dorman was the Co-operative Insurance Cup hero for St Mirren against Kilmarnock in midweek and it was to the Englishman that Gus MacPherson turned to produce the equaliser.

That Dorman did not do so was down to the alertness of the otherwise idle Boruc, who smothered his glancing header from Mehmet's cross.

Predictably, as the home side pushed up the pitch, Celtic were presented with a few more chances, but Innes provided muscular opposition for Samaras.

Craig Dargo ought to have restored parity from a Dorman cross, but his goal-bound shot was blocked at close quarters by Glenn Loovens.

Celtic went two in front after Gallacher had first made a save from a stabbed shot by Maloney.

But, when the ball came back into the box, Scott McDonald headed the ball out to Maloney once more, who dinked a beautiful shot over the outstretched left arm of Gallacher.

A third goal for Tony Mowbray's side may have been harsh on St Mirren and only a sense of pity could explain McDonald's dreadful miss in front of goal, Maloney having laid the chance for the Australian on a plate.


St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson:

"I was more pleased with the second half. In the first half we showed Celtic far too much respect.

"You've got to make it difficult for them. We did that in the second half.

"We took a chance or two with the personnel when it came round to the changes.

"In the end we've lost out to a counter-attack. That's what Celtic are capable of.

"I thought it was a good game. We've got to accept some of the things that went on and get on with it.

"I don't think we made a single tackle in the first half.

"In the second half there were positives in terms of the manner in which we played and the good areas we got into that caused more problems."

Celtic manager Tony Mowbray:

"It was a very poor performance today. We know we have to be better than we showed today.

"We got drawn into a scrap. We should be controlling the match better than we did today.

"If we find the level of performance we've had in the last couple of games, and that is the norm of the season, we won't be as successful as we hope to be and the biggest teams will take points off us.

"We have to take better decisions with the ball, we have to be more clinical and take more care of the ball with our passing.

"All those things we fell short on today."


Live text and stats

 

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Scottish Premier

Home Team Score Away Team Time
St Mirren 0-2 Celtic FT
(HT 0-1)
    • McCourt 27
    • Maloney 78

    St Mirren

    • 01 Gallacher
    • 06 Potter yellow card
    • 19 Barron
    • 21 Innes yellow card
    • 02 Ross
    • 04 McGinn
    • 07 Murray (Brighton 62)
    • 10 Thomson yellow card
    • 14 Brady (Dorman 56)
    • 09 Mehmet (Higdon 84)
    • 18 Dargo

    Substitutes

    • 20 Howard,
    • 25 Faulds,
    • 08 Dorman,
    • 12 O'Donnell,
    • 16 Brighton,
    • 11 Higdon,
    • 22 Quinn

    Celtic

    • 01 Boruc
    • 02 Hinkel
    • 04 McManus
    • 11 Fox
    • 22 Loovens
    • 06 N'Guemo
    • 08 Brown yellow card (Crosas 86)
    • 07 McDonald
    • 13 Maloney
    • 20 McCourt (McGinn 68)
    • 33 Killen yellow card (Samaras 56)

    Substitutes

    • 24 Zaluska,
    • 05 Caldwell,
    • 52 Caddis,
    • 14 McGinn,
    • 17 Crosas,
    • 09 Samaras,
    • 49 Forrest
    Ref: RichmondAtt: 6,164
    ST MIRREN
    CELTIC

    Possession

    • St Mirren 38%
    • Celtic 62%

    Attempts on target

    • St Mirren 2
    • Celtic 5

    Attempts off target

    • St Mirren 2
    • Celtic 6

    Corners

    • St Mirren 4
    • Celtic 4

    Fouls

    • St Mirren 10
    • Celtic 14
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+2:35 The referee signals the end of the game.
    • 90:00+2:20 Niall McGinn has shot on goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
    • 88:39 Corner taken by Andy Dorman from the right by-line, clearance made by Landry N'Guemo.
    • 87:25 Effort from deep inside the area by Scott McDonald misses to the right of the target.
    • 86:55 Glenn Loovens gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Michael Higdon. Tom Brighton takes the free kick.
    • 85:38 Direct free kick taken by Glenn Loovens.
    • 85:38 Substitution Scott Brown leaves the field to be replaced by Marc Crosas.
    • 85:38 Unfair challenge on Scott Brown by Tom Brighton results in a free kick.
    • 84:57 Niall McGinn gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Brighton. Free kick taken by David Barron.
    • 84:12 Shaun Maloney takes the inswinging corner, save by Paul Gallacher.
    • 83:52 Substitution Michael Higdon replaces Billy Mehmet.
    • 82:14 Effort by Billy Mehmet from a long way out goes over the crossbar.
    • 81:25 Daniel Fox crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel, Paul Gallacher makes a comfortable save.
    • 81:25 Booking Chris Innes receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
    • 81:18 Unfair challenge on Scott McDonald by Chris Innes results in a free kick.
    • 80:52 Jack Ross crosses the ball, clearance by Shaun Maloney.
    • 80:15 Scott McDonald gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on John Potter. Paul Gallacher restarts play with the free kick.
    • 77:41 GOAL - Shaun MaloneySt Mirren 0 - 2 Celtic Shaun Maloney finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. St Mirren 0-2 Celtic.
    • 77:27 Shaun Maloney takes a shot. Save by Paul Gallacher.
    • 76:13 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Billy Mehmet by Glenn Loovens. Free kick crossed right-footed by David Barron, Stephen McManus makes a clearance.
    • 74:16 Free kick awarded for a foul by Billy Mehmet on Scott Brown. Direct free kick taken by Glenn Loovens.
    • 73:16 Georgios Samaras produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that goes over the bar.
    • 70:48 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Daniel Fox.
    • 69:32 John Potter gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shaun Maloney. Daniel Fox restarts play with the free kick.
    • 68:14 Corner taken right-footed by Andy Dorman from the left by-line, clearance made by Shaun Maloney.
    • 67:19 Artur Boruc restarts play with the free kick.
    • 67:19 Substitution Niall McGinn on for Patrick McCourt.
    • 67:19 Tom Brighton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Andreas Hinkel.
    • 65:45 Headed cross/shot by Andy Dorman, Artur Boruc makes a comfortable save.
    • 64:09 Short corner worked by Andy Dorman. Stephen McGinn delivers the ball, save made by Artur Boruc.
    • 63:35 Georgios Samaras gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Barron. Chris Innes takes the direct free kick.
    • 61:49 Artur Boruc restarts play with the free kick.
    • 61:49 Substitution Tom Brighton is brought on as a substitute for Hugh Murray.
    • 61:49 The referee blows for offside against Billy Mehmet.
    • 60:39 The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Glenn Loovens.
    • 59:38 The referee blows for offside. Artur Boruc takes the indirect free kick.
    • 59:02 Short corner worked by Shaun Maloney. Landry N'Guemo takes a shot. Save by Paul Gallacher.
    • 58:55 Centre by Georgios Samaras, clearance made by Chris Innes.
    • 58:38 Centre by Billy Mehmet, save by Artur Boruc.
    • 54:22 Substitution Garry Brady leaves the field to be replaced by Andy Dorman.
    • 54:22 Substitution Georgios Samaras on for Christopher Killen.
    • 54:22 Booking John Potter receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
    • 54:22 Booking Booking for Christopher Killen.
    • 52:58 Stephen McGinn delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, Christopher Killen makes a clearance.
    • 52:58 Booking The referee books Scott Brown for unsporting behaviour.
    • 52:55 Steven Thomson fouled by Scott Brown, the ref awards a free kick.
    • 49:43 Billy Mehmet fouled by Patrick McCourt, the ref awards a free kick. Stephen McGinn takes the direct free kick.
    • 47:49 Andreas Hinkel sends in a cross, clearance by Chris Innes.
    • 47:09 A cross is delivered by Hugh Murray, Stephen McManus makes a clearance.
    • 45:01 The referee starts the second half.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+0:21 The players leave the pitch at half time.
    • 42:00 Daniel Fox takes the free kick.
    • 42:00 Booking Steven Thomson is given a yellow card.
    • 41:41 Unfair challenge on Shaun Maloney by Steven Thomson results in a free kick.
    • 41:04 Billy Mehmet takes a shot. Blocked by Glenn Loovens. Garry Brady takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post.
    • 40:18 Christopher Killen concedes a free kick for a foul on David Barron. Direct free kick taken by Paul Gallacher.
    • 37:52 Unfair challenge on Hugh Murray by Scott Brown results in a free kick. Paul Gallacher takes the direct free kick.
    • 35:52 Andreas Hinkel takes a shot. Save by Paul Gallacher.
    • 34:44 Unfair challenge on Craig Dargo by Stephen McManus results in a free kick. Garry Brady restarts play with the free kick.
    • 34:03 The official flags Scott McDonald offside. Indirect free kick taken by Paul Gallacher.
    • 33:08 The ball is sent over by Jack Ross, Headed effort from inside the area by Billy Mehmet misses to the left of the target.
    • 30:23 Free kick awarded for a foul by Glenn Loovens on Stephen McGinn. Free kick crossed by Stephen McGinn.
    • 29:08 Effort from deep inside the area by Scott McDonald clears the bar.
    • Correction - 27:33 Craig Dargo is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Glenn Loovens.
    • 27:33 The offside flag is raised against Craig Dargo. Glenn Loovens restarts play with the free kick,
    • 26:04 GOAL - Patrick McCourtSt Mirren 0 - 1 Celtic Patrick McCourt finds the back of the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. St Mirren 0-1 Celtic.
    • 23:31 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Daniel Fox from the right by-line.
    • 21:50 Daniel Fox produces a cross, Jack Ross gets a block in.
    • 19:42 Stephen McGinn challenges Scott McDonald unfairly and gives away a free kick. Landry N'Guemo takes the free kick.
    • 17:42 Hugh Murray challenges Patrick McCourt unfairly and gives away a free kick. Daniel Fox crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing.
    • 16:02 Daniel Fox crosses the ball, clearance by John Potter.
    • 13:04 Patrick McCourt has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
    • 10:57 Foul by Hugh Murray on Christopher Killen, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Shaun Maloney.
    • 8:16 David Barron sends in a cross, Landry N'Guemo manages to make a clearance.
    • 7:27 Christopher Killen challenges Hugh Murray unfairly and gives away a free kick. Hugh Murray restarts play with the free kick.
    • 6:58 Stephen McManus gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Craig Dargo. David Barron takes the direct free kick.
    • 3:25 Andreas Hinkel fouled by Billy Mehmet, the ref awards a free kick. Andreas Hinkel restarts play with the free kick. The ball is crossed by Stephen McManus.
    • 2:22 Daniel Fox concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Thomson. Free kick taken by Paul Gallacher.
    • 0:25 Effort from deep inside the area by Christopher Killen clears the bar.
    • 0:00 The referee starts the match.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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    Scottish Premier results

    26 Sep 2009 23:59 UK

    Home Team Score Away Team Time
    Falkirk 0-0 Kilmarnock R
    Hearts 2-1 Hamilton R
    Motherwell 1-3 Hibernian R
    Rangers 0-0 Aberdeen R
    St Johnstone 2-3 Dundee Utd R
    St Mirren 0-2 Celtic R

    Scottish Premier table snapshot

    As it stood on 26 Sep 2009 23:59 UK

    Position Team P GD PTS
    1 Celtic 6 9 16
    2 Rangers 6 7 12
    3 Hibernian 6 5 12
    4 Dundee Utd 6 3 11
    5 Aberdeen 6 2 9
    6 Motherwell 6 1 9
    7 Hearts 6 -2 7
    8 Kilmarnock 6 -1 5
    9 St Mirren 6 -3 5
    10 Hamilton 6 -8 4
    11 Falkirk 6 -6 3
    12 St Johnstone 6 -7 3


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