Georgios Samaras (66 mins)
own(Chris Millar) (70 mins)
Clydesdale Bank Premier League
, Apr 1, 2012
Ground: Celtic Park , Kickoff: 12:45 , Att 57,848
Lomas: Celtic are worthy champions St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas insists Celtic deserve to be crowned Scottish champions regardless of a recent slump in results.
Rangers' 2-1 win over Motherwell on Saturday means the Hoops will have to wait at least until next week to clinch the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title, denying them a possible championship party against Saints on Sunday.
Neil Lennon's men saw an impressive undefeated run come to an end when they lost the Scottish Communities League Cup final to Kilmarnock, before suffering defeat in last week's Old Firm derby.
But, as far as Lomas is concerned, Celtic will be worthy winners when they do clinch the championship.
He said: "I think they are the best team and the most consistent and that's not a bad combination.
"Certainly, in my eyes, they are worthy champions.
"Nothing will take away from that just because they have had a couple of defeats.
"You are going to have them no matter who you are.
"Even the greatest teams in the world, like Man United, have little blips. Barcelona didn't score the other night, which is amazing.
"Celtic are a fantastic club and a fantastic team and we're going to have to be at our best to get something from the game." On Celtic's last two defeats, Lomas added: "At the end of the day, Celtic are there on merit.
"They were on a great run.
"I watched the cup final and Cammy Bell had an unbelievable day and Kilmarnock took their chance when it came along and that's what you've got to do." Saints claimed victory at Parkhead earlier in the season before Lomas replaced Derek McInnes at the helm.
The manager says they will again head to the east end of Glasgow without any fear, while being well aware of the size of task they face.
Lomas said: "We take heart from that game, there are no two ways about it.
"But we're not stupid. We've got to have 11 players at the maximum and the goalkeeper is going to have to have a good day and you have to take any chances you get when they come along.
"We know that we've got to be on the top of our game for us to compete and we've probably got to have a little bit of luck along the way.
"We know the size of task but we will go there with no fear.
"Our away record has been excellent this season so we are going there to give Celtic a game, that's for sure." Lomas has yet to decide whether to include new signing Derek Riordan in his squad.
The former Hoops and Hibernian striker completed his move to Saints on Friday on a short-term contract until the end of the season.
Midfielder Murray Davidson is set to miss the trip to Parkhead with a knee injury while the Perth side will make a late decision on left-back Callum Davidson, who is still struggling with a hamstring problem.
Defender Cha Du-ri and midfielder Victor Wanyama are both suspended for Celtic having been sent off in last week's Old Firm derby defeat to Rangers at Ibrox.
Celtic vs St Johnstone
Last modified 15:19 01/04/12
Hoops on brink of SPL title Celtic moved within one point of clinching the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title after beating St Johnstone 2-0 at Parkhead.
The Hoops found it a struggle in the first half against a well-organised Saints side, but a Georgios Samaras header and an own goal by midfielder Chris Millar after the break saw off the visitors, whose striker Cillian Sheridan missed a great chance with the game goalless.
It was not a vintage Celtic performance, who were perhaps a bit deflated by Rangers' win at Motherwell on Saturday which prevented a possible title party.
However, that will not worry Hoops boss Neil Lennon, whose side need only a draw at Kilmarnock next Saturday to be crowned champions.
Lennon made four changes for the encounter, two of which were enforced.
In came right-back Mikael Lustig for his home debut, along with defender Glenn Loovens, midfielder Kris Commons and striker Gary Hooper.
Defender Cha Du-ri and midfielder Victor Wanyama were suspended while Adam Matthews and Ki Sung-yueng dropped to the bench.
Saints new signing, former Celtic striker Derek Riordan, was not on the bench and manager Steve Lomas named an unchanged side with Francisco Sandaza and former Hoops man Sheridan leading the line.
The Celtic players warmed up wearing number 19 shirts as a tribute to Aston Villa captain and former Hoops star Stiliyan Petrov, who has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
Within seconds of the start St Johnstone midfielder Liam Craig fouled Samaras and Anthony Stokes fired the 25-yard free-kick over the bar.
Samaras, playing wide left, looked in the mood and in the fifth minute he burst into the Perth side's penalty area and crossed to the back post but Stokes' header was easily saved by Saints keeper Alan Mannus.
In the 19th minute the stadium stood, applauded and chanted Petrov's name in tribute, moments before Hooper, in a Celtic breakaway, had his chip shot from the edge of the box grabbed by Mannus.
Commons had the best chance of the half in the 25th minute when he was set up by Stokes but the Scotland midfielder drilled his shot from 14 yards wide of the far post.
At the other end, Celtic keeper Fraser Forster was forced into a decent save from Craig's 25-yard free-kick.
The tempo dropped as the mistakes increased and the match had a real end-of-season feeling about it.
In the 38th minute Saints defender Frazer Wright decided to allow Lustig's cross from the right go across his six-yard box, which drew gasps of anticipation from the home fans but there were no hooped jerseys to take advantage.
The visitors survived a scare just before the interval.
Commons' free-kick into the St Johnstone box caused panic after Mannus punched the ball into a mass of bodies and Celtic left-back Charlie Mulgrew had a goal-bound shot blocked close to the line by Wright, who then blocked another effort from Stokes, before Commons sent a shot wide.
The home fans were looking for more urgency from their team in the second half but Celtic should have found themselves a goal down within three minutes of the restart.
Saints midfielder Chris Millar took possession wide on the right and played in right-back Dave Mackay, who sent a great cross into the box only for Sheridan to somehow miss the target from six yards.
Moments later Sandaza rose highest in the Hoops box to head Craig's whipped-in free-kick looping over the bar.
Matthews replaced Lustig in the 55th minute before Ki came on for Stokes and, in between the two substitutions, Mannus tipped a cross-cum-shot from Commons over the bar as the hosts exerted some pressure.
Samaras won the free-kick which led to his opener in the 66th minute when Saints defender David McCracken fouled him 35 yards out in his frustration to get the ball off the Greece striker. Commons flighted the ball to the back post, where Samaras climbed to head back across goal and past Mannus.
The points were sealed four minutes later, with the Saints bench still complaining about a hefty tackle on Craig by Commons, who played on.
Celtic swept up the park and, when Ki played in Samaras down the right, he drove a low cross into the box which was deflected into his own net by Millar.
Saints shrugged off their rage to try to rescue something from the game and in the 83rd minute Forster made a fine save from Craig's 25-yard free-kick, stretching to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.
Craig then blasted over the bar from close range after Forster had parried a Sandaza cross right to his feet, summing up a frustrating day for the McDiarmid Park midfielder.
|Player rating out of ten||Player name||Substitution||Did they score?||Player's disciplinary record||Rating|
|23||Mikael Lustig(sub 54)|
|10||Anthony Stokes(sub 62)|
|88||Gary Hooper(sub 86)|
|2||Adam Matthews(sub 54)|
|18||Sung-Yeung Ki(sub 62)|
|39||Andre Blackman(sub 86)|
|Player rating out of ten||Player name||Did they score?||Player's disciplinary record||Substitution||Rating|
|9||Lee Croft(sub 90)|
|4||Jody Morris(sub 84)|
|14||Kevin Moon(sub 84)|
|22||Kudus Oyenuga(sub 90)|