St Johnstone 0-0 Celtic- Match Report

Saints and Celtic fail to scoreSt Johnstone and Celtic both wasted a barrowload of chances to somehow draw a Scottish Premiership blank at McDiarmid ParkSaints forward Michael O'Halloran might have scored three in an open first half with striker Leigh Griffiths and skipper Scott Brown coming close for the Hoops.The second half followed along similar lines with Perth substitute James McFadden and Murray Davidson both hitting the post.However, Parkhead winger James Forrest, one of six changes to Ronny Deila's starting line-up, missed a remarkable open goal.With only a trip to Aberdeen remaining next week, Tommy Wright's men moved one point ahead of Dundee United, who have two games left.Fourth place will take a Europa League spot if Inverness beat Falkirk in the William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden.St Johnstone could have made their European quest easier if they had a cutting edge, although they might have ended the night with nothing.Defender Kieran Tierney, 17, was one of six Celtic changes with keeper Lukasz Zaluska, Adam Matthews, Efe Ambrose, Gary Mackay-Steven and Forrest also drafted in.Charlie Mulgrew returned for the first time since December after recovering from a knee problem, to start on the bench.Saints skipper Dave Mackay missed out ahead of hip surgery while stopper Frazer Wright dropped to the bench, with Brian Easton and Gary Miller coming in.The first chance of an open game fell to the visitors from a corner in the 10th minute.Stuart Armstrong's cross was headed towards goal by Ambrose but Griffiths could not get enough on to the ball from a yard out and Perth keeper Alan Mannus smothered on the line.Moments later, at the other end, Zaluska stretched high to his left to claw away a fine strike by Davidson with Tierney completing the clearance.There was little thought to defending, apparently.Michael O'Halloran missed a great chance for the home side when he failed to connect properly with a header following a cross from the right, seconds before a Celtic break ended with Forrest slicing his angled-drive wide.In the 23rd minute, following a Danny Swanson corner, Ambrose cleared a Miller header away from under the bar before O'Halloran again mis-headed a cross in front of goal.Saints' profligacy continued.O'Halloran left Ambrose for dead to leave himself with only Zaluska to beat but the Parkhead keeper who blocked for a corner, the set-piece ending when midfielder David Wotherspoon curled a shot from the edge of the box past the far post.The near misses mounted up.Celtic midfielder Kris Commons' shot from 22 yards evaded the far post before Zaluska made a double save, the first from Wotherspoon's shot on the turn from 12 yards, and then from Davidson who had followed in.It was the Parkhead side's turn next to threaten as skipper Brown's header from a Commons corner was knocked off by the line by St Johnstone midfielder Chris Millar, the half-time whistle soon afterwards allowing everyone to draw breath.Mulgrew replaced centre-back Jason Denayer for the start of the second-half but the pattern was set.Zaluska was again in action, saving a point-blank header from Steven MacLean.Play swung randomly from end to end with Mannus denying Mulgrew a dream comeback in the 69th minute by saving his downward header from an Armstrong free-kick.The Perth side kept coming forward looking for the winner which would give them a bigger European boost and came close in the 83rd minute when McFadden, on for MacLean, headed a Swanson corner off the post before Steven Anderson's shot was blocked by sheer numbers of bodies in front of goal.But the best chance of the night was missed when Celtic immediately broke through Forrest, the Hoops winger round Mannus but somehow missing the target from six yards

summing up the night, although there was time for Davidson to hit woodwork in added time and Mannus to save again from Griffiths

Source : PA

Source: PA