The champions left it late at Celtic Park, as a late Oh Hyeon-gyu strike secured Brendan Rodgers’ side their first win in three games against a spirited St Mirren team.

They had to work for it, however, as the visitors went ahead early thanks to a Conor McMenamin header in the seventh minute. They would only be ahead for 11 minutes, however, as David Turnbull would blast home a powerful strike from outside the box, leaving the impressive Zach Hemming with no chance of saving it in the St Mirren goal. A further 11 minutes later, Turnbull would have the chance to take the lead after a penalty was given via VAR for a St Mirren handball. In what is becoming an all-too-familiar habit, the resulting spot-kick hit the post before Luis Palma was denied by an incredible Hemming save following the rebound. The sides would go in level at the break, after what was a very nervy 45 minutes.

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In the second half, Celtic probed forward but were struggling to make solid chances in front of goal. These bitty games sometimes call for heroes, and that came in the form of South Korea’s Oh, as the forward converted a lovely distribution from his fellow substitute Odin Thiago Holm eight minutes from time. Despite a late chance from Kyogo Furuhashi to make proceedings more comfortable, Celtic won the game 2-1, in what was a massive three points for Rodgers and his men.

Celtic made three chances from the team that drew to Hibernian on Saturday, as Nat Phillips, Turnbull and James Forrest replaced the outgoing Cameron Carter-Vickers, Paulo Bernardo and Daizen Maeda. Liam Scales continued his starting streak in the defence, as Captain Callum McGregor was joined by Matt O’Riley in the midfield. Kyogo continued to lead the line, with Palma to his left.

Here, The Celtic Way rounds up the best StatsBomb data from the game to give you a match report like no other…

xG trendline

Despite conceding a goal early on to Stephen Robinson’s in-form St Mirren, Celtic had two early chances to get ahead in proceedings from Palma and Alistair Johnston. Both shots went wide of the mark, though it was a decent start from a side looking to get back to winning ways (0.11 combined xG). As mentioned earlier, though, Celtic would have to come from behind to win this one…

The ball was worked to Greg Kiltie on the wing for St Mirren, who put in a brilliant ball to McMenamin, with the Northern Irishman essentially unmarked in the Celtic box. His header was perfect, leaving Joe Hart with no chance of saving the well-placed headed shot. To prove how well this header was taken, you only have to look at the xG and PSxG totals for this goal, which rose from 0.15 to a massive 0.74 following the shot leaving the attacker’s head.

Celtic knew that they were in a game here and looked to get on the front foot to rectify the situation quickly. Palma had a shot blocked (0.04) before Turnbull missed the target via a chance from a corner (0.03). The crowd were getting onto Turnbull’s back, but the Scotland international responded in the best possible way three minutes later…

Following a lovely nutmeg by O’Riley, he slides the ball to Turnbull who is unmarked on the edge of the penalty area. He takes a touch to set himself, then thunders an unstoppable strike into the right-hand corner of the net, leaving Hemming with no chance between the sticks. In another example of PSxG skyrocketing, Turnbull’s shot had a pre-shot xG of 0.04, before meteorically rising to 0.71 when the strike left his boot. A quick response by Rodgers’ side, though Turnbull’s celebration (he put his fingers in his ears) left a mixed taste in one’s mouth, for sure.

After this goal, it was essentially one-way traffic in the first half apart from a blocked shot by Kiltie (0.03). In this period, O’Riley and Turnbull had further opportunities to extend the lead (0.13 combined), though the latter would have an even better chance to double his goal tally just a few minutes later.

Following a VAR review, Celtic were awarded a penalty for Turnbull’s blocked shot, as Alex Gogic handled the ball in doing so. In what was a high-xG scenario for Celtic, Turnbull’s penalty hit the post (0.78), before the rebounded ball was met by Palma whose shot was saved by Hemming at point-blank range (0.34 rising to 0.82), then O’Riley’s header went wide (0.11). The two rebounders would have the last chances of the first half, though they were both low percentages concerning xG (0.04).

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Following the restart, Forrest would have two opportunities to earn Celtic the lead, though he was unsuccessful in both goal attempts (0.21 combined). Phillips then had a header that went well wide (0.10), before Caolan Boyd-Munce threatened twice for St Mirren (0.06 combined). These two chances were to be St Mirren’s last for over 20 minutes, as the home side turned the screw in proceedings in their pursuit of a winner.

Changes were made following Forrest’s last chance, as Maeda and Yang Hyun-jun came on in place of the former Scotland international and Palma. The latter sub made a big impact, as Yang took his opportunity to impress on the left wing. It was Kyogo who had one of the better chances to begin with, though, as his header went wide (0.24). Yang had two chances sandwiched in between a Phillips header (0.10 combined) before Kyogo again had an opportunity, which was blocked by Richard Taylor in the visitors’ defence. Yang’s countryman Oh would contribute an inaccurate header, (0.03) though his next contribution would be far greater…

Kyogo lays the ball off, following an inward pass to him by Phillips in defence. Holm is deep in St Mirren’s half, and has a decision to make: does he shoot, or does he pass to Oh? He picks the latter, and the whole of Celtic Park will be grateful for that, shifting the ball elegantly to his striker who is waiting to pounce. Oh takes a touch, before slamming it into the roof of St Mirren’s net, sending the crowd crazy in the process. His first of the season, Oh’s xG was 0.46, which rose to 0.82 in PSxG, highlighting the accuracy and power of the shot, leaving Hemming a bystander in his own goal.

Despite two late chances by Robinson’s side through Kiltie and O’Hara (0.13 combined), Kyogo had a massive chance to settle matters in the 93rd minute. Holm plays the attacker in, who plants Gogic, leaving himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Trying to channel his inner Larsson, Kyogo attempted to chip the goalkeeper but his opposite snuffed out the danger via a save. 0.52 in xG, the shot dropped to 0.17 in PSxG, indicating a poor shot choice by the usually lethal Japan striker. It did not matter though, as Celtic managed to hang on to their lead, sealing an important victory to stop the three-game winless skid from occurring.

Celtic had 23 shots in this game, though only eight of them were on target in proceedings. They had a cumulative score of 2.99 because of this. Though the home side had quite a few shots outside the box – one being Turnbull’s equaliser – quite a few of their chances were in the centre of the danger zone, with three occurring thanks to the penalty and events seconds after. It is heartening to see Celtic get so many chances, but they must be more clinical when it comes to converting them.

In the Scottish Premiership, Celtic take on average 18.64 shots per game, though this figure would be expected to rise, given the amount of away games the side has faced thus far.

St Mirren had six shots, with two of them being on target at a cumulative xG of 0.37. Looking at their shot map, five of their six chances came inside the box, with one in the semi-circle just outside the area.

Robinson’s side take around nine shots a game, so they didn’t downgrade that badly in terms of volume, especially at a tough away venue like Celtic Park.

Concerning Celtic’s top shooter on the night, Palma again topped the table, this time joined by Turnbull, as both had four. The latter had higher xG from his shots compared to the Honduran, with a score of 0.94 to Palma’s 0.17. Kyogo and O’Riley had three, whilst the impressive Yang had two in his limited time on the pitch.

St Mirren’s Boyd-Munce and Kiltie had two shots, whilst O’Hara and McMenamin had a solitary shot each.

Possession, passing and positions

As is the norm with Celtic, especially at home, they dominated the ball throughout the game in terms of possession with 74 per cent to St Mirren’s 26. Celtic completed 88 per cent of their passes – their highest percentage so far this season in this metric – with 698 of their 795 passes reaching their intended target. On the other hand, the visitors only completed 62 per cent, successful in only 171 of their 277 total passes in the game.

The passing network gives a rough idea of where the majority of the game was played and who was the most involved. Remember that the warmer the colour, the more influential the player was in the game, and the thicker the passing lines, the more passes between the players.

StatsBomb measures pass contributions in on-ball value (often referred to as OBV, a term breakdown of which can be read here).

The passing networks for both teams in both the first and second half indicate how the game changed in terms of what transpired. In the opening 45 minutes, there were quite a few solid contributors for OBV, as shown in the diagram. McGregor, Greg Taylor and Forrest were the standouts in this metric, with Scales and Phillips also impressive. Notice, however, just how isolated Kyogo is up front, with a lack of passing lines to him. A slight issue that needs to be rectified sooner rather than later. Marcus Fraser, Hemming and Kiltie all posted positive OBV during this period for the home side.

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Following the break, it was clear that the left-hand side was a source of joy and productivity for Celtic during this period. Taylor was key to this, as shown by the lines connecting him to the likes of Turnbull, Holm and Yang. Palma and McGregor were also very solid in this part of the game. O’Hara and Scott Tanser were the two sole standouts for St Mirren in terms of OBV in the second half.

Regarding OBV statistics, Celtic’s best performer was Taylor with a massive 0.44 for 82 passes. McGregor was next with 0.32 for 84 of his distributions. Scales, Kyogo and O’Riley all posted negative OBV in this game, the lowest being Scales on -0.04.

Tanser had the game-high OBV haul for both sides with 0.53 for just 19 passes. O’Hara had 0.24, whilst Fraser had 0.21. Toyosi Olusanya had the lowest OBV in the game with -0.08 in just two passes.

Like at Easter Road, Taylor was again a top contributor regarding key passes, managing four again at a combined xG of 0.26. Palma and McGregor had three each, whilst Yang had two on the night.

Tanser, O’Hara and Kiltie all had one key pass each, the latter with the highest xG (0.15) thanks to his assist for the goal.

Pressing and defending

Celtic initialised a total of 142 to St Mirren’s 179, though they both regained the ball 38 times, indicating that the home side were smarter when pressuring their opponents than they were. Palma was Celtic’s top pressure exporter in the game with 17, with Turnbull and Kyogo not far behind on 16 and 15 respectively. Ryan Strain had the most in the game with 37, whilst Kiltie and McMenamin both had 21.

Palma had the most counterpressures in the game for both sides with eight, with Kiltie contributing four for St Mirren, a figure shared by Scales and Turnbull.

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Defensively, Yang was Celtic’s top performer in combined tackles and interceptions with three, whilst Strain topped the game in this metric with a combined six. In what was a monster defensive performance from Scales, he won 12 aerial duals – with an aerial win percentage of 92 per cent - and made the same amount of clearances. Phillips had eight each of the same defensive actions in the game.

Fraser cleared the ball nine times for his team, whilst Mikael Mandron won six aerial duels despite coming on as a late substitute.