Ange Postecoglou says Celtic will need plenty more of the character which earned them a last-gasp Scottish Premiership victory against St Johnstone throughout the season.
Alex Mitchell sensationally levelled for the Perth side in the 92nd minute after Andrew Considine’s earlier own goal, only for Giorgos Giakoumakis to hit back with virtually the last kick.
The Greek striker pounced on Alex Bernabei’s cross to stretch Celtic’s league lead to five points before Rangers returned the gap to two later.
“Through the course of the year, there are times where you have to show that [character],” Postecoglou told BBC Scotland.
“Not every game is going to run smooth, it won’t always go your way. There are times we had to do that last year and it’s good to know it’s still there this year because we’re going to need it.
“We got a bit sloppy towards the end but I don’t think the performance was that bad. Up until the final third, we were really good.”
Celtic dug deep after Mitchell’s late sucker punch, but once again 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.
Player of the match – Sead Haksabanovic
Below par Celtic grind out another win – analysis
Celtic are definitely not firing like they were in the first six games of the season. There seems to be a slight drop in intensity, and certainly they are not finishing the chances they continue to create.
Amid a hectic schedule, Postecoglou made six changes, with captain Callum McGregor missing the first of his expected 11 games out due to injury.
That will undoubtedly have a huge impact, which means fringe players need to step up in order to keep churning out wins. From that perspective, there were some encouraging signs.
Haksabanovic was impressive, as was Bernabei on only his second start at left-back in the absence of Greg Taylor. With Champions League commitments ongoing and their captain missing, it could be a tough spell. That’s where character comes in, and Celtic certainly showed that at the death.
As for St Johnstone, they can count themselves unfortunate. They defended well in the first half and were unlucky to fall behind to an own goal. As Celtic failed to convert opportunities, they threw the kitchen sink at them in the last quarter and so very nearly snatched a draw.
St Johnstone look a much better proposition than last season, and capable of threatening the top six.
What they said
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: “As a unit I thought we were brilliant and worked really hard. You concede an own goal in the 42nd-minute it’s a tough one to take. We got a goal which I thought we deserved.
“Then I don’t know what the word is… to concede in the 95th minute when I thought the players deserved more. I’m really gutted for them.”
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou: “We had to show some character right till the last minute. It’s a game we should have put to bed a lot earlier. We had chances to do that. The good thing is we showed the character we needed to get the result.”
St Johnstone are away to Livingston next Saturday (15:00), while Celtic host RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday (20:00) before hosting Hibernian on Saturday (15:00).
Player of the match
Squad number7Player nameMayAverage rating
Squad number5Player nameMitchellAverage rating
Squad number4Player nameConsidineAverage rating
Squad number6Player nameGordonAverage rating
Squad number1Player nameMatthewsAverage rating
Squad number37Player nameClarkAverage rating
Squad number29Player nameMurphyAverage rating
Squad number14Player nameWrightAverage rating
Squad number27Player nameKucheriavyiAverage rating
Squad number2Player nameBrownAverage rating
Squad number13Player nameMcGowanAverage rating
Squad number22Player nameHallbergAverage rating
Squad number17Player nameBairAverage rating
Squad number21Player nameCrawfordAverage rating
Squad number26Player nameMcLennanAverage rating
Squad number7Player nameGiakoumakisAverage rating
Squad number20Player nameCarter-VickersAverage rating
Squad number9Player nameHaksabanovicAverage rating
Squad number41Player nameHatateAverage rating
Squad number25Player nameBernabeiAverage rating
Squad number33Player nameO’RileyAverage rating
Squad number1Player nameHartAverage rating
Squad number56Player nameRalstonAverage rating
Squad number17Player nameJotaAverage rating
Squad number57Player nameWelshAverage rating
Squad number49Player nameForrestAverage rating
Squad number11Player nameAbadaAverage rating
Squad number38Player nameMaedaAverage rating
Squad number16Player nameMcCarthyAverage rating
Squad number28Player nameAbildgaardAverage rating
Squad number13Player nameMooyAverage rating
- 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.
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