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Red card’s don’t turn matches- performances do

Celtic’s convincing 4-1 win over St Johnstone wasn’t due to the red card for Graham Gartland- it was caused by the emphatic second half display from Tony Mowbray’s side.
It’s easy to point to Gartland’s sending off as the turning point in the match but every supporter has despaired as they watch their side fail to take advantage against ten men.
Equally we have all rejoiced at how our team has found that extra something despite being a man short to battle their way to victory.
There are examples all over the game of ten men winning with the most recent coming in the Milan derby when Inter Milan played for over an hour with ten men before increasing their lead then being reduced to nine men in injury time.
Inter had set the early pace but showed a ‘dogs of war’ attitude to dig in and keep Milan at bay with the effect of David Beckham and Ronaldinho nullified by great marking.
Without making any direct comparisons St Johnstone had no answer to the wide play of Paddy McCourt and Aiden McGeady who stretched the Perth defence creating the openings that Celtic eventually capitalised from.
The major concern for Celtic is that they seem to need to create five or six chances for every goal that they score.
Georgios Samaras was the main culprit yesterday missing two ‘bread and butter’ chances before burying a great volley to put Celtic in front.
The Greek striker was then booked for celebrating amongst the same supporters who had been cursing him earlier after over running the ball in the penalty area.
While Celtic won the match there was again some highly debatable refereeing from Willie Collum, another referee benefitting from being personally groomed by Hugh Dallas.
Collum performs with all the dramatics of the young Dallas in the days before the man from Bonkle became the most important ‘personality’ in Scottish football.
Collum had two borderline penalty incidents in yesterday’s game and you wouldn’t need to be Mystic Meg to guess which way the decisions went.
There was minimal contact in the penalty box in the 11th minute as Steven Milne tangled with Darren O’Dea and Glenn Loovens.
That was enough to have the excitable Collum off and running to the penalty spot but midway through the second half he failed to spot a trip on Paddy McCourt from Gary Irvine as the Celtic substitute darted into the penalty box.
St Johnstone’s penalty claim was weaker than the foul on Marco Fortune by Falkirk’s Steven McLean last week, one was given one wasn’t.
Those type of marginal decisions have hammered Celtic over the last few months but with the kitchen sink, plus Paul McGowan, being thrown at St Johnstone there was no denying the hoops as they cut Rangers lead down to a more manageable seven points.
Four classic goals all had their own magic about them as the resilience of the St Johnstone defence and inspired goalkeeper Graham Smith was worn down.
Whether the game is a turn around in Celtic’s Fortune’s (ouch) for the season remains to be seen with games against Hibs, Hamilton and Kilmarnock coming up within seven days.
Three wins in those games will reduce Rangers lead further and just as importantly give the squad a surge of belief and confidence.
With Jos Hooiveld poised for his debut and Morten Rasmussen about to sign from Brondby January could turn into a significant month as Mowbray puts his stamp on the side.
Just as they did at the Wembley Cup against Spurs and in the Co-Operative Cup at Falkirk Celtic’s back up players showed that they are upto the mark.
n style=”font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: large;”>Missing for a variety of reasons yesterday was the following useful looking XI: Lucas Zaluska; Mark Wilson, Stephen McManus, Jos Hooiveld, Danny Fox; Scott Brown, Landry N’Guemo, Ki Sung Yeung, Shaun Maloney; Kki Mizuno, Scott McDonald
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  • Anonymous says:

    As we will never know what might have happened if St. J had retained 11 men on the park…we can only go with what did…..
    and what did was very good to watch.
    TM has attracted criticism in the past for his "tactical" decisions..
    but I thought that yesterday he is to be applauded.He changed the complete shape of the team and stretched St. J all over the pitch.
    The goals were all superb and I know that this might not be popular, but I thought that Samaras was outstanding. Yes he misses chances…doesn't everyone??…but his running off the ball, his ball control and his awareness were, for me, a joy to watch.Just an opinion.
    Anyway, bottom line , we've closed the gap both in points and goal difference… our second half performance was sensational and the goals were all classy.
    All in all….not a bad Sunday!!
    Hail, Hail.

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