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Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Sunday, 18 December 2011

SPL as it happened


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By Martin Conaghan

1657: That's it for today folks - I hope you enjoyed yourselves, whatever side you were supporting. Thanks for all your text messages and Tweets. Don't forget to join us on Christmas Eve for a full SPL card, and if you can't make that - have a good Christmas!

1656: The video highlights from yesterday's SPL matches will be available from 1800 GMT tonight, while today's match between St Johnstone and Celtic will be available around 2300 GMT. Please note: the highlights are only available to users in the UK.

1654: Celtic climb back to within four points of league leaders Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League table, while St Johnstone remain on 26 points in fourth place, eight points behind Motherwell.

1653: FULL-TIME: St Johnstone 0-2 Celtic

Full time
1652: A late attempt from distance by James Forrest sails wide of the mark as the referee Euan Norris blows his whistle to signal full-time.

1651: St Johnstone seem resigned to their fate, they're looking tired and dejected.

1649: The referee has added on three minutes at the end of this match at McDiarmid Park, which looks like it's going to end in a 2-0 win for Celtic.

1648: Tom in Cork sends this message via Twitter: "Cheers for the updates Martin keeping me informed @ work." You're welcome Tom - thanks for staying tuned.

1642: According to the official stats, Celtic have had 11 attempts on goal to St Johnstone's three so far. Celtic have also had 63% of the possession, which tells it's own story. For those of you just joining us, or not paying attention, Celtic are leading 2-0.

1640: Another change for Celtic as Mohamed Bangura comes on for Gary Hooper.

1639: There's just under 10 minutes remaining at McDiarmid Park, not including added time. Can Celtic extend their lead or will St Johnstone get back into the match and make for an anxious finale?

1638: Midfielder Willie Gibson comes on for Liam Craig as St Johnstone boss Steve Lomas aims to reduce the damage.

1637: Dylan McGeouch comes on for Beram Kayal as Celtic push to put the match beyond their hosts.

1636: Kenneth Hislop on Twitter gets an honourable mention for pointing out my scoreline error. Thanks Kenneth.

1635: Just to correct my earlier scoreline - Celtic are currently leading 2-0 at McDiarmid Park thanks to Gary Hooper and Ki Sung-Yeung.

1633: Georgios Samaras flashes forward from the halfway line but selfishly holds on to the ball with players on either side when he could have easily released Hooper for a scoring chance.

1631: James Forrest seems keen to get himself on the scoresheet with a curling strike from the left of the St Johnstone penalty area that inches wide of Peter Enckelman's post.

1629: Wanyama limps off to receive treatment. I'm not sure what the physio can do for wounded pride.

1628: Marcus Haber goes one-on-one with the Celtic keeper Fraser Forster after an extraordinary defensive blunder by Victor Wanyama, but the Canadian hits the ball straight at Forster and the chance to pull one back is lost.

1626: "Everyone in the Celtic team wants the ball now. They want to go and kill this game off, but if St Johnstone can get a grip in it, we'll have game on again." BBC Scotland pundit Stephen Craigan at McDiarmid Park.

1624: Celtic break on the counter-attack after St Johnstone's free-kick - James Forrest powers down the right wing and plays on Georgios Samaras, who works a neat one-two and sets up Ki Sung-Yeung to fire in from six yards out. Two goals in four minutes for Celtic and St Johnstone are struggling to regain any kind of composure.

1623: GOAL! St Johnstone 0-2 Celtic (Ki)

1622: Beram Kayal picks up a yellow card for encroaching on a St Johnstone free-kick being set up on the edge of the Celtic penalty area. The re-taken kick fails to breach the Celtic wall.

1621: A Celtic insider tells us that Daniel Majstorovic has a fractured cheekbone as a result of his challenge on Dave Mackay in the first half.

1620: St Johnstone's Marcus Haber challenges for a corner with Victor Wanyama on the six yard line and the ball drops to Gary Hooper who stabs the ball home from close range for Celtic's opener.

1618: GOAL! St Johnstone 0-1 Celtic (Hooper)

1617: A free-kick from 20 yards out hit by Ki Sung-Yeung bounces off the St Johnstone wall as Celtic maintain a spell of pressure.

1616: Gary Hooper forces a save out of Peter Enckelman with a close range half-volley after good work by Scott brown down the right-hand side. St Johnstone look like they're on the ropes as Celtic up the tempo in search of an opener.

1615: We're approaching the hour mark at McDiarmid Park and it's still deadlocked at 0-0.

1613: Carl Finnigan does well to break free with the ball deep into Celtic's territory, but he over-hits his through ball to Marcus Haber and the attack fizzles out.

1612: Another great run by Cha down the right wing and the South Korea international lands a ball at the feet of James Forrest, who then skies his close-range shot over the St Johnstone bar.

1609: James Forrest works some magic down the left-hand wing and drills the ball across the six yard line, but fortunately for St Johnstone, none of his team-mates are on hand to make an attempt on goal.

1608: Cha Du-Ri flights in a ball in from the right-hand side that Georgios Samaras controls on his chest (twice), but the big Greek is eventually thwarted by the St Johnstone defence on the six yard line.

1607: Some followers on Twitter taking exception to my assessment of the first half. I didn't say there were no "shots" on goal, I said it wasn't big on clear-cut chances. And, Peter Enckelman has kept his side in the game by not conceding any goals. Seems plain enough to me?

1606: And we're back for the second half at McDiarmid Park - and St Johnstone are off to a flyer, Dave Mackay forcing Fraser Forster into an early save with a low drive from 18 yards.

1605: Murdo MacLeod is saying it is one of the best defensive performances he has seen by a team in the SPL against the Old Firm this season. Very true.

1550: A decent first half - not big on chances or attempts on goal though. One or two for Celtic, but nothing clear-cut, and Saints keeper Peter Enckelman has kept his team in the game. Stay with us folks - I'm going to grab a cup of tea to keep myself warm. Back in five minutes!

1549: HALF-TIME: St Johnstone 0-0 Celtic.

Half time
1548: Thomas Rogne is forced to make a defensive header near the six yard line after Dave Mackay flights in a dangerous ball to the Celtic penalty area. We're deep into the three minutes of added time here.

1547: "St Johnstone are holding on right now. They are desperate for the half-time whistle." BBC Radio Scotland pundit Murdo MacLeod.

1546: Another set piece from near the half-way line is headed forward by Victor Wanyama, but, again, Enckelman is equal to the task and St Johnstone breathe easy.

1545: Interesting to see our followers on Twitter debating about the coverage of today's matches as provided by our competitors. Accept no substitutes - the BBC is the only place to catch all the action as it happens.

1544: a Celtic free-kick from about 25 yards out is taken by Charlie Mulgrew and curved over the St Johnstone wall, but Peter Enckelman gathers it with relative comfort.

1543: From Kierin in Glasgow by text on 80295: "In relation to the comments about Samaras, without him in the first half against Udinese we would not have been the dominant side. Also have you watched the last five or six games? He's been immense get off his back and open your eyes!"

1542: We're closing in on half-time - just under five minutes left to play and still no goals separating the sides. It's St Johnstone 0-0 Celtic so far.

1541: St Johnstone are working very hard to keep closing Celtic down. Neil Lennon will be frustrated watching this from the sidelines. His players have had plenty of possession, but they're struggling to make anything of it.

1540: Carl Finnigan comes on for David Robertson - presumably he's failed to recover from the challenge with Daniel Majstorovic.

1539: "Celtic haven't had a chance to put six or seven passes together. There's always a blue jersey putting them under pressure." BBC Radio Scotland pundit Stephen Craigan.

1538: "It is a very good match and very even. Celtic know this is a battle to be won." BBC Radio Scotland pundit Murdo MacLeod.

1537: Ki Sung-Yeung breaks free down the left wing under pressure from Dave Mackay, but his final cross fails to reach a hooped jersey.

1536: We'll bring you more news on Majstorovic's injury when we get it. Chris McLaughlin is trackside at McDiarmid Park, so he'll let us know what's going on in that respect.

1535: Here's what's happening Guffie: it's currently 0-0. Samaras had a shot saved, Gary Hooper missed a sitter. Daniel Majstorovic has been replaced by Thomas Rogne after splitting his head going up for a challenge. St Johnstone are holding out well. How's that?

1534: "Gonna tell us what's happening in the game rather than petty arguments about a player!" Right you are Guffie (on Twitter)!

1533: Thomas Rogne comes on for Daniel Majstorovic.

1532: It seemed almost certain that Gary Hooper would score after stealing the ball on the six yard line, but Enckelman makes the save from the close-range shot.

1531: There's a bit of a lull in play while Majstorovic and Robertson receive treatment. Celtic's Thomas Rogne looks like he's getting ready to come on as a replacement for Big Dan.

1529: David Robertson is clattered by Daniel Majstorovic. The big Swede headers Robertson on the back of the head as they both jump for the ball - looks like a sore one. Majstorovic has ran up the tunnel to receive some treatment to a cut.

1528: "It's been a high tempo start, but neither goalkeeper has had much work to do apart from that save by Enckelman from the Samaras shot." BBC Scotland commentator David Begg at McDiarmid Park.

1527: Anyway, back to the game. What's happening so far? Celtic have had 58% of the possession, so presumably St Johnstone have had 42%. I don't know how they work this out, but there you have it.

1526: And another from Ollie Johnston on Twitter: "Georgios Samaras in particular has had a good start to the game"? Oh look, transfer window open soon. Coincidence?" You said it Ollie, not me.

1525: You chaps are enjoying the debate today. Craig Donnachie sends us this on Twitter using the hashtag #bbcsportsound: "Samaras is the most frustrating player to ever wear a Celtic top. He holds on to the ball far too long."

1524: Gary Hooper is called offside having appeared to come back from his offside position and then remonstrates with the assistant referee at being penalised. Watching the TV footage again, Hooper was clearly onside.

1522: Cha Du-Ri bombs is down to the goal-line and pulls the ball back for Gary Hooper, but Dave McCracken pulls off a dangerous defensive header that flies over the bar, much to his relief.

1521: From Fred in Alloa by text on 80295: "Re Steve on twitter. Clearly you haven't seen how well Samaras has being playing recently as a left winger."

1519: Some patient build-up play from Celtic, with St Johnstone looking very cautious and defensive. Georgios Samaras in particular has had a good start to the game - he looks determined and positive (a comment, which I'm sure will invite many replies on Twitter and SMS).

1517: Ronan Mellin replies on Twitter: "RE 1510: Have you seen Samaras recently? His performances would almost make Messi blush (perhaps slight exaggeration)."

1516: Celtic have had two decent chances so far - a Hooper header and the Samaras shot. St Johnstone have played well in spells, but Celtic are certainly gathering some pace.

1515: "You sense that when Samaras gets the ball, the St Johnstone defence seems to retreat. He's had a good start to this game." BBC Scotland pundit Stephen Craigan at McDiarmid Park.

1514: St Johnstone keeper Peter Enckelman does well to keep out a Georgios Samaras strike from the edge of the penalty area.

1512: Laurie Dunsire says on Twitter: "In reply to Michael (14.54), I wonder if a certain Mr McGeouch would disagree with the lack of match winners sentiment?" Very true Laurie - there's a match-winner sitting on the Celtic bench right enough.

1511: Ki Sung-Yeung blasts in a shot from the edge of the St Johnstone penalty area that is deflected out for a corner, but Celtic fail to make the advantage pay and St Johnstone blitz up the park on a counter-attack that ends with Marcus Haber running out of steam.

1510: Steve sends us this on Twitter using the hashtag #bbcsportsound: "It's a miracle that Samaras still gets a game for Celtic, he must be better than Messi in training or am I missing something?"

1509: Charlie Mulgrew sends in a tempting ball to Gary Hooper, but the Englishman has to stretch to get a head to it and it sails wide of the St Johnstone goal.

1507: "St Johnstone have to be careful not to lose their discipline. I think Steve Lomas will have told his players to be careful and play in front of Celtic." BBC Scotland pundit Stephen Craigan at McDiarmid Park.

1505: If you're having trouble listening to our live stream on the BBC Sport website, the boffins advise me that all you need to do is refresh the page and it should come back on.

1504: Charlie Mulgrew is having a difficult start to the match - Dave MacKay nicking the ball off him and playing Haber through - but Celtic regain possession. Celtic seem to be having trouble getting a grip on the match in these early stages.

1503: A brisk start to the match at McDiarmid Park as St Johnstone's Marcus Haber gives Charlie Mulgrew a scare, picking up possession and skipping past the former Aberdeen man.

1501: David Begg is providing the commentary on Radio Scotland 810MW today. Stay tuned for all the action!

1500: And we're off at McDiarmid Park

1459: One minute until kick-off - the players are coming out on to the pitch.

1455: Stevie on Twitter points out to me that Celtic won nine league matches in a row at the start of last season, then lost to Rangers in October. Thanks Stevie!

1454: Getting closer to kick-off and Michael Behan posts this on on Twitter using the hashtag #bbcsportsound: "My prediction a close Celtic win , but no match winners on the bench so it's up to the starting 11 to do the business."

1450: If Celtic win today, it will be their seventh straight league win in succession. That's got to be some kind of record for Neil Lennon? Can anyone put me right there? Has Lennon put together a longer winning streak in the league since he took over as manager?

1448: Paul on Twitter sends us this: "I think Celtic could score a few goals today, a double from Hooper". Another bold prediction from Paul. Hooper has been in-form this season - 14 goals in all so far, so you might be on to something there Paul...

1443: Just over 15 minutes until kick-off at McDiarmid Park. The last time the team's met, St Johnstone won 1-0 in the league - Dave McKay scoring the only goal of the game. Can the Saints repeat the feat today?

1440: Scott Laidlaw sends us this via Twitter: "I think the score will be St Johnstone 1 Celtic 1." Bold prediction Scott. Can you show us your working?

1437: Are you at the game in Perth checking this on your mobile phone? If so, let us know what the atmosphere is like at the match - is it freezing cold? Are the pies any good? Send us your thoughts ahead of kick-off on 80295 or Tweet using the hashtag #bbcsportsound.

1435: Apparently, Anthony Stokes has said on Twitter that he's injured today, but hopes to be fit for next week.

1434: Don't forget folks, you can listen to today's match live on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW, online at the BBC Sport website - and you can catch the match "as-live" later today on BBC ALBA. But for the real action, stay here with me and I'll do my best to describe every kick of the ball for you throughout the match.

1431: Just under half an hour to go until kick-off at McDiarmid Park.

1430: So, Celtic manager Neil Lennon names an unchanged team for today's match against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park. Gary Hooper and Georgios Samaras lead the line as Lennon looks to reduce the seven-point gap behind leaders Rangers at the top of the table. St Johnstone show two changes with David Robertson and Kevin Moon in for Callum Davidson, who is ill, and Sam Parkin, who starts on the bench.

1429: "I didn't feel the need to change it. The did very well and there is a unger about them. And they are very focussed on this game. Six wins in a row and we want to make it seven and narrow the gap at the top." Celtic manager Neil Lennon at McDiarmid Park.

1425: Today's teams:

St Johnstone: Enckelman, MacKay, Anderson, McCracken, Maybury, Millar, Murray Davidson, Moon, Robertson, Craig, Haber. Subs: Mannus, Parkin, Finnigan, Gibson, Durnan, McIntosh, Gray.

Celtic: Forster, Cha, Majstorovic, Mulgrew, Wanyama, Ki, Brown, Forrest, Kayal, Hooper, Samaras. Subs: Zaluska, Kelvin Wilson, Bangura, Blackman, McGeough, Twardzik, Rogne.

Today's referee is Euan Norris.

1424: We'll have some team news soon for you from McDiarmid Park, with the full team listings. In the meantime, why not send us your predictions on the match. What will the score be? Who will be first on the scoresheet? Send your thoughts via text to 80295 or Tweet us using the hastag #bbcsportsound.

1421: "We need to get back to being hard to score against. That seems simplistic, but when you start giving cheap goals away, it hurts you. We know it is going to be tough, because Celtic played very well against Udinese and were unfortunate" St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas at McDiarmid Park.

1420:Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our live updates of today's Scottish Premier League match at McDiarmid Park between St Johnstone and Celtic. The Saints are hanging on to fourth place in the league table, despite successive defeats against Motherwell and Aberdeen, but Celtic are in a rich vein of domestic form despite their midweek exit from the Europa League. Can Steve Lomas end Neil Lennon's run of 10 league matches undefeated? Stay with us throughout the afternoon as we bring you every kick of the ball. Don't forget, you can text us on 80295 or Tweet us using the hashtag #bbcsportsound and we'll use the best messages here.

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Scottish Premier results

18 Dec 2011 23:59 UK

Scottish Premier table snapshot

As it stood on 18 Dec 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Rangers 19 27 48
2 Celtic 19 24 44
3 Motherwell 18 5 34
4 St Johnstone 19 1 26
5 Hearts 19 6 25
6 Kilmarnock 18 -2 23
7 Dundee Utd 19 -5 22
8 St Mirren 19 -6 22
9 Aberdeen 19 -4 20
10 Inverness CT 19 -13 15
11 Hibernian 18 -13 14
12 Dunfermline 18 -20 14

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