Giorgos Giakoumakis’ dramatic goal with virtually the last kick of the game salvaged Scottish Premiership victory for Celtic at St Johnstone in a game filled with late drama.
Alex Mitchell had sensationally levelled for the Perth side in the 92nd minute following Andrew Considine’s earlier own goal, only for the champions to go up the other end and hit back.
Giakoumakis pounced on Alex Bernabei’s cross to stretch Celtic’s lead at the league summit to five points.
Rangers can narrow the gap back to two points if they beat St Mirren at home later on Saturday (15:00 BST).
Celtic showed fantastic character after Mitchell’s late sucker punch, but once again Ange Postecoglou’s side were wasteful when on top for three quarters of the game. When St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson threw on the attacking cavalry, they were frantic and nervy.
They had 80% of possession for the first 70 minutes, but in the first half struggled to penetrate a stout St Johnstone defence, until a clever inside run and low cross from Sead Haksanabovic forced Considine to turn past his own goalkeeper just before the break.
Celtic created more opportunities after the break, with Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda both having goals ruled out for offside, while Liel Abada was denied by Remi Mitchell when clean through.
But Davidson’s substitutes helped turn the tide, with Stevie May first forcing Joe Hart to tip his shot onto a post, and then the striker crossed for Connor McLennan, who should have done far better from eight yards than slice high and wide.
But St Johnstone eventually got their reward, albeit it was fleeting. Ali Crawford’s free-kick caused havoc, and Mitchell was there to side-foot home and spark bedlam at McDiarmid Park.
However, they will be kicking themselves at the finish.
Celtic had three minutes to salvage victory, and managed it in the dying seconds when they worked the ball down the side to Bernabei, whose terrific cross was bundled home by Giakoumakis to create wild scenes in the away end behind the goal.
More to follow.
How to play
Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Rating range key = Give it up = Pure perfection
- 2BrownSubstituted forBairat 75′minutes
- 13McGowanBooked at 21mins
- 22HallbergBooked at 49mins
- 27KucheriavyiBooked at 53minsSubstituted forCrawfordat 63′minutes
- 29MurphySubstituted forMayat 63′minutes
- 37ClarkSubstituted forMcLennanat 75′minutes
- 20Carter-VickersBooked at 90mins
- 57WelshBooked at 11mins
- 33O’RileySubstituted forAbildgaardat 68′minutes
- 41HatateSubstituted forMooyat 68′minutes
- 11AbadaSubstituted forForrestat 68′minutes
- 9HaksabanovicSubstituted forMcCarthyat 82′minutes
- 17Neves FilipeSubstituted forMaedaat 45′minutes
- 7GiakoumakisBooked at 90mins
- Euan Anderson
Match ends, St. Johnstone 1, Celtic 2.
Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 1, Celtic 2.
Attempt blocked. Stevie May (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Connor McLennan.
Giorgos Giakoumakis (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for excessive celebration.
Goal! St. Johnstone 1, Celtic 2. Giorgos Giakoumakis (Celtic) left footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alexander Bernabei with a cross.
Goal! St. Johnstone 1, Celtic 1. Alex Mitchell (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alister Crawford following a set piece situation.
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic).
Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Alexander Bernabei (Celtic).
Ryan McGowan (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Anthony Ralston (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Theo Bair (St. Johnstone).
Offside, Celtic. Aaron Mooy tries a through ball, but James Forrest is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Stevie May (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.
Attempt saved. Stevie May (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Melker Hallberg.
Attempt missed. Connor McLennan (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Stevie May with a cross.
Offside, Celtic. Anthony Ralston tries a through ball, but Daizen Maeda is caught offside.
Foul by Giorgos Giakoumakis (Celtic).
Alex Mitchell (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.