Two early goals from Gary Hooper secured all three points and released some pressure on manager Neil Lennon after Thursday’s defeat to FC Sion in the Europa League.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon made two changes from the team that lost against FC Sion on Thursday. James Forrest and Anthony Stokes were promoted to the starting line-up, with Joe Ledley and Georgios Samaras dropping to the bench.
As for St.Mirren the attacking tripartite of Thompson, Hasselbaink and Teale started for the home side, as Danny Lennon kept the same starting eleven that beat Morton in the Cup in midweek.
With only a minute or so on the clock Saints were against the cosh, Irish striker Anthony Stokes latched onto a long through ball, bearing down on goal he sent his shot just wide of Craig Samson’s far post.
Seconds later Stokes found the net. The Irishman muscled his way through the Saints defence before dispatching his shot past Samson, but Willie Collum blew for a foul against McAusland by Stokes. A harsh decision as both players were battling for the ball, with Stokes being the stronger of the two.
The early exchanges were all Celtic and after a poor clearance from keeper Fraser Forster, which fell kindly to Forrest, the Celtic youngster played a neat one-two with Stokes but the final ball to Forrest was just a bit too hard and Samson rushed off his line to smother it.
Six minutes in Celtic took the lead. Stokes and Hooper linked up on the edge of the Saints box and despite a moment of hesitation from the English striker, he buried the ball past Samson to open the scoring.
Minutes later and the man much criticised for Thursday night’s defeat to Sion, Daniel Majstorovic, headed over the bar from six yards out after latching onto a Charlie Mulgrew free kick.
Celtic doubled their lead on 12 minutes after a poor pass from McGowan was intercepted by Hooper, who raced clear through on goal before coolly beating Samson.
St.Mirren finally got into the match, 20 minutes in. Former Accies striker Nigel Hasselbaink passed to Thompson who played a neat pass which cut through the Celtic defence, McGowan latched onto the ball but his strike was turned out for a corner by a superb save from Fraser Forster.
The corner kick straight from a training ground routine saw former Celtic youngster Paul McGowan fire a superb volley from the edge of the box towards goal, but striker Steven Thompson headed the ball over the bar.
The much maligned Majstorovic, was having a torrid time of it against Hasselbaink and the striker showed the Swedish defender a clean pair of heels before sending a low cross into the box, but with no Saints player on the end of it the ball shot across the face of goal.
Just like his rash tackle on Thursday night, Majstorovic once again made a poor decision and brought down Hasselbaink conceding a free kick just outside the box as the striker was heading towards the corner flag. Gary Teale took the resulting free kick but Fraser Forster gathered it comfortably.
It just wasn’t Majstorovic’s day as the Swedish defender once again looked shaky as he made the decision to pass to Kelvin Wilson just outside the box, who was still trying to get to his feet after a tackle.
Into the Second Half, Celtic came out of the trap the quickest and Stokes went close once again. The frontman picked up the ball some 30 yards from goal before turning inside and firing off a low shot, but Samson in the Saints goal turned the ball out for a corner.
Again the troublesome Hasselbaink turned Kelvin Wilson and raced towards the Celtic goal, but the former Nottingham Forest defender fouled the Saints striker. From the resulting free kick, Tesselaar fired low towards the bottom corner of the Celtic goal, but Forster was equal to it and made a smart save turning it round the post and out for a corner.
Celtic should have really extended their lead after Forrest’s cross found Stokes inside the six yard box, but a last-ditch tackle by Tesselaar saw the change go begging.
Just a minute later and Stokes does have that shot on goal, but it is turned out for a corner by Samson, who was in fine form all day for the Buddies.
Kelvin Wilson who has been the best Celtic defender so far this season, nearly gifted the Saints a goal when he attempted a headed back pass, however it was a poor effort and had Forster scrambling across his goal only to see it go out for a corner.
St.Mirren had one last chance on goal, with striker Steven Thompson heading straight at Forster, with Forrest being denied twice as was Ki late one by the superb Samson in the Saints goal.
Celtic XI: Forster; Cha, K.Wilson, Majstorovic, Mulgrew; Brown, Ki, Kayal, Forrest; Stokes, Hooper.
Subs: Zaluska, Matthews, Wanyama, Ledley, Commons, Samaras, Maloney.
St.Mirren XI: Samson, van Zanten, Mair, Goodwin, Thomson, Thompson, McGowan, Hasselbaink, McAusland, Teale, Tessalaar.
Subs: Smith, McKee, McShane, McLean, Carey, Haddad, Kennedy.
Referee: Willie Collum
Scotzine Man of the Match: Craig Samson
Photos by Liam McFadden