Adam Idah on target as Celtic secure comfortable win over St Mirren

Reo Hatate scores his first goal for six months as Celtic come alive in the second half at Parkhead

Scottish Premiership: Celtic 3 St Mirren 0

Ireland international Adam Idah completed Celtic’s comfortable victory over St Mirren with their third goal as Reo Hatate scored his first goal for six months.

The midfielder produced a classy finish as Celtic recovered from a slack and goalless first half to take control of the game early in the second period.

Hatate has endured an injury-hit 12 months but he stepped up his comeback from calf problems by easing the tension around Celtic Park.

Kyogo Furuhashi and Idah also netted as the Premiership leaders moved four points ahead of Rangers, who have still to play twice before the split.

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With Daizen Maeda absent with a hamstring problem, Celtic missed the wide player’s dynamism in a tepid first-half display.

Yang Hyun-jun was handed a start in Maeda’s place despite his poor defensive work when Rangers equalised at Ibrox last weekend. Callum McGregor started on the bench as Celtic continue to manage his Achilles problem while Maik Nawrocki replaced the injured Liam Scales.

The centre back was fortunate to escape an early booking for a late aerial challenge on Toyosi Olusanya after misjudging the flight of the ball in his first appearance for seven weeks.

He was far from the only Celtic player to start slowly and referee Steven McLean again frustrated the visitors when he gave them a free-kick just as they broke two on one.

Ryan Strain came on for St Mirren after Elvis Bwomono went off with a head knock and the Australian was quickly booked for a foul on Yang.

That was a rare moment of progress for the South Korea winger though and Celtic only managed one shot in the first half, Matt O’Riley’s drilled effort blocked by Caolan Boyd-Munce.

Boyd-Munce was showing strength and composure in the Saints midfield and Alex Gogic was breaking out of defence to spring some counterattacks.

The visitors looked the more threatening team in the opening half. Greg Kiltie had a great chance from Olusanya’s square ball but could not make the required contact. Strain had an effort blocked and Olusanya fired over from a tight angle.

Whatever Brendan Rodgers said at half-time had the desired effect as Celtic immediately stepped up several gears.

Furuhashi glanced a header wide when Cameron Carter-Vickers looked likely to score behind him but Celtic did not have long to wait for the breakthrough in the 52nd minute.

Alistair Johnston’s pass inside found Hatate and the Japan midfielder took a touch before quickly guiding the ball into the top corner with the outside of his boot from 16 yards.

Yang miskicked when presented with a good chance moments later but Furuhashi doubled the lead on the hour mark when he headed home Johnston’s cross from six yards.

Zach Hemming saved from Greg Taylor, Hatate and substitute Luis Palma as Celtic kept up the pressure.

St Mirren had seen Scott Tanser and Kiltie, through injury, go off at the start of the second half and the visitors were now struggling to impose themselves.

McGregor was among four substitutes who came on in the 71st minute and the home side were able to make a sixth replacement, James Forrest, because of Bwomono’s concussion.

The winger came close before being involved in the move that led to Idah nodding home from close range in the 86th minute as Celtic outnumbered the visiting defence.

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