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Sunday, August 13, 2006 

Celtic 1-0 St. Mirren

CELTIC bounced back from last weekend’s defeat at Tynecastle with a 2-0 win over this year’s early league leaders St Mirren.

Last season’s First Division champions arrived at Celtic Park determined to build on the run of two wins that has propelled them to an early and perhaps unanticipated lead at the top of the league table and with Celtic having dropped points in their last competitive fixture against Hearts, many arrived here looking for a reaction from the defending champions.

What they got was a professional and solid performance from Gordon Strachan’s men, with Stephen McManus and Stilian Petrov’s first and second half goals sealing what was a convincing victory.

Celtic’s control over the match rarely slipped throughout the 90 minutes, but it was at times a cagey affair, with both teams failing to produce a decent number of clear cut chances.

There were however two noteworthy moments in the first half, the first being a thunderous, first-time shot from Aiden McGeady that would have been an early contender for goal of the season had it not rattled back off the woodwork and the second was McManus’s opener.

During the course of last season’s run to the title, the big centre half chipped in with no fewer than eight goals and this was a typical McManus effort, a charging run and header home from five yards after Shunsuke Nakamura had swung in a corner from the left.

The game continued in the second half in a similar vein to the first, with Celtic again enjoying the majority of possession, but it was the visitors who first came close in the 58th minute, with Kirk Broadfoot heading a Hugh Murray free kick inches wide.

This set piece was followed by a speculative Garry Brady effort and suddenly both teams were back in action, with Celtic pushing forward and St Mirren looking to have taken no small amount of confidence from these tentative forays forward.

But any hopes that last season’s First Division champions held of salvaging something from this match and maintaining their place at the top of the table were unceremoniously dashed by Stilian Petrov.

The Celtic midfielder arrived inside the box in the 65th minute to latch on to yet another perfectly threaded pass through the defence by McGeady, which allowed him to take one touch and thump his low shot beneath the St Mirren keeper and effectively end this match as a contest.

That said, more chances came and went for both sides, most notably a thunderous free-kick from Simon Lappin which rattled back off Boruc’s bar and also for Kenny Miller, who failed to break his scoring duck despite being presented with a glorious opening at the back post by Craig Beattie.

This performance may not have been ‘classic’ Celtic, but the home side’s dominance was perhaps best highlighted by the large numbers in the crowd of 56,579 who made for an early exit.

And after last week’s defeat the supporters will be relieved to see that normal service has resumed and that Celtic’s defence of the title is back on track.

CELTIC: Boruc; Wilson, Caldwell, McManus, Wallace (Pearson 56); Nakamura, Petrov, Jarosik, McGeady; Zurawski (Beattie 74), Miller.

ST MIRREN: Smith; Potter, Millen, Broadfoot; van Zanten, Brady (Brittain 77), Murray, Molloy (McKenna 83), Lappin; Sutton, Kean (Mehmet 69).

GOALS: 1-0, McManus (28'); 2-0, Petrov (65')


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Hearts 3 7
2. Falkirk 3 7
3. Celtic 3 6
4. St Mirren 3 6
5. Aberdeen 3 5

Source: celticfc.net

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