Celtic denied top spot by St Johnstone

Celtic slipped from top spot in the Scottish Premier League after being held at home by St Johnstone.

Teenage striker Tony Watt came off the bench once again and knocked Celtic in front on 51 minutes, but Nigel Hasselbaink cancelled out the young Scot’s 51st-minute opener when 13 minutes from time punished Celtic with a lovely shot on the turn to earn a point for the Saints.

points behind the Edinburgh outfit, although they do have a game in hand.

As is so often the case after a big occasion, this was a very flat affair, with the raucous Champions League singing of Wednesday night replaced by the low murmur of conversation and the odd ripple of applause in a drab first-half.

Saints defender Frazer Wright did well to get his head to a deep cross from Charlie Mulgrew before Miku could connect near the penalty spot.

Georgios Samaras cleverly span away from Wright but his route to goal was crudely halted by a cynical trip, which earned the Saints defender an early booking.

Kris Commons then found Victor Wanyama with a clipped cross from the right but the powerful midfielder made a real mess of his close range header at the back post.

Joe Ledley headed over as Celtic gradually gathered momentum, while Commons twisted away from a couple of opponents before firing just too high from 20 yards.

Watt was introduced at the start of the second half and wasted no time in announcing his arrival.

The teenager showed just the kind of hunger and determination that his team-mates were lacking in the first 45 minutes to beat keeper Alan Mannus to a searching, long ball from Mulgrew and bundle the ball over the line.

Saints defender David McKay flashed an effort across Fraser Forster’s goal before his manager Steve Lomas was ordered to the stand by referee Iain Brines for complaining too vociferously.

There were more protests from the visitors when Brines chose to ignore Efe Ambrose chopping down replacement striker Gregory Tade right on the edge of the penalty area.

But Saints’ mood was lifted soon after when they restored parity.

Moments after making a good reaction save to keep out Wright’s volley, Forster was beaten by a smart, low shot on the turn from Hasselbaink.

Stung by the equaliser, Celtic responded with a rising strike from Beram Kayal and Wanyama was let down by his chest control when racing in behind the Saints defence.

Watt steered a stoppage-time header on target but it failed to trouble Mannus as Celtic dropped points in the league for the third match in a row.