CUP semi-finals are rarely easy affairs and Celtic's match against St Johnstone on Saturday was no different.

The Hoops were seldom in danger from a blunt and physical Saints side but they likewise struggled to create many clear-cut chances themselves until James Forrest's 74th-minute winner.

Celtic Way:

Ange Postecoglou made no alterations to the starting XI from the team's win over Dundee before the international break, although personnel tweaks were required during the game due to Stephen Welsh's injury-enforced withdrawal.

Here, The Celtic Way looks at the WyScout data from the Hampden victory to give you a match report experience like no other.

Opportunities & goals

Celtic Way:

The end result is probably an accurate reflection of the quality of chances both sides created.

Celtic's trendline rises to 1.41 xG despite regular periods with little opportunities while St Johnstone's is virtually flat throughout, such was their almost total lack of attacking threat.

Of the 13 shots Celtic got off, four were outside the box with the majority taking place in close, central areas.

Celtic Way:

Crucially, however, only three were on target in total. Zander Clark saved two of those, including a late chance for Mikey Johnston that would have put the Hoops 2-0 up.

At the other end, Joe Hart faced two shots on target - both from distance and both low-quality opportunities. Overall, Celtic restricted Saints to long-range potshots and dealt with the Perth side's cross attempts reasonably comfortably all evening.

Celtic Way:

Positions and passing

Most of the Celtic team spent the majority of their time on the pitch camped in the Saints half - Josip Juranovic's deep position is perhaps the only surprise in that regard.

The saturated Saints first-third meant Kyogo Furuhashi (no 8) regularly tried to drop deeper to get involved meaning Jota (no 17) was most often the highest Celtic player.

Celtic Way:

Right from the get-go, the Hoops tried to exploit the gaps on St Johnstone's right-back area with Callum McGregor picking out Jota on a few occasions. It got some success and was statistically the most dangerous area of the pitch for the Hoops; the winner, ultimately, came from Jota's surge into the box from the left half-space in the 74th minute.

Celtic Way:

Saints naturally sat fairly deep with Michael O'Halloran - the only outlet that saw Saints cause any sort of problems for the Celtic backline - actually spending most of his time further up the park than striker Chris Kane. 

In terms of passing there was really only one team in the game. 

While not a creatively-inspiring performance from Celtic by any means - they were only successful with two of their nine smart passes - the victors still garnered eight shot assists and five through balls.

Saints, in contrast, had no smart passes, no successful through balls and just three shot assists with anchorman Nir Bitton picking up seven interceptions in a display quietly key to ensuring Celtic were never truly threatened through the middle of the park.

Celtic Way:

Pressing and defending

When one team doesn't really want to play it's difficult - as Celtic have found a couple of times this season.

To their credit, though, Postecoglou's side did not lose the belief that their moment would come and played to a high intensity throughout; their PPDA was a season-best 3.9.

Celtic Way:

That said, the second-best of the season was in the 0-0 draw at home to Livingston so a good PPDA figure only partially explains how effective pressing has actually been against a team set up not to create in any meaningful manner when they got to the final third.

Correlating to PPDA, Celtic's challenge intensity (how many defensive actions a team is doing per minute of opponent ball possession) was a solid 8.7 compared to Saints' 4.07, suggesting even though they had overwhelming control of the ball, they still effectively neutered the opposition when they didn't.

Celtic Way:

Indeed, the Hoops won a higher percentage of both offensive and defensive duels than the Perth side as well as topping them in aerial duel percentage and recoveries per minute too.

It may not always have been a swashbuckling tour-de-force but in a cup semi-final the importance of playing the game and not the occasion cannot be underestimated. In this regard, Celtic effectively suffocated the Saints to kill off the double winners' hopes of retaining one of their trophies and put Postecoglou a step closer to lifting his first with the club.