A rousing outpouring of support for stricken former star Stiliyan Petrov provided the inspiration for Celtic to inch closer to the mathematical certainty of a first SPL title since 2008.
They now require just a point from any of their remaining six games to ensure their status as Champions after struggling to a 2-0 home win over a spirited St. Johnstone, as the fallout from the tumultuous Old Firm Derby still tainted "Paradise".
It will have been a relief for manager Neil Lennon, who donned the name and number of former teammate Petrov on the back of his top, for his side to return to the business of football games. They have excelled at Parkhead this season, with this tentative win making it ten in row at home.
This culture of winning at home was identified as a crucial ingredient of this season’s success by the gaffer, who beamed in the post-match conference: "Our consistency since October has been fantastic."
The Hoops had struggled for a breakthrough and had to rely on veteran striker Georgios Samaras to prise open a stingy away defence. He did not do so until the 66th minute when he powerfully steered Kris Commons' free-kick in to the visitors’ net.
The Greek was pivotal to the Celts second which arrived four minutes later. The rangy striker found himself out wide and drilled the ball into box where St. Johnstone’s Chris Millar inadvertently provided the finishing touch with an own-goal.
As unfair as the own-goal was on the otherwise impressive Millar, it was a fair reward for the efforts of Samaras in particular. He led the line impressively in the first half, though it was Charlie Mulgrew and Anthony Stokes who had went closest in the half, both being denied by defender Fraser Wright on the line. For their part, the visitors showed their determination and enjoyed their best attacking spell at 2-0 down.
Liam Craig had a marvellous effort from outside the box thwarted by an equally impressive save by Frasier Forster. The same player squandered a golden opportunity five minutes from time which meant that the Hoops closed out the tie comfortably and can now turn their attention to clinching the crown against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park next week.
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