Celtic got back to winning ways in the Scottish Premiership, as they routinely defeated St Johnstone 3-1 in Glasgow to go top of the league.

In a game filled with big chances for the home side, Brendan Rodgers’ team put the Saints to the sword, thanks to goals from Kyogo Furuhashi, Nicolas Kuhn and James Forrest. VAR was involved heavily, which amounted to a couple of disallowed goals that would have made the game even more comfortable. Connor Smith pulled a goal back for the visitors, but it was little more than a consolation in the grand scheme of things.

In partnership with StatsBomb, here are the key stats, graphs and outcomes from Celtic’s win over St Johnstone yesterday afternoon…

Trendline, xG and stats

Judging by the numbers above, Celtic were by far the dominant side yesterday, with 73 per cent possession and just under 800 passes attempted in the match. 23 shots indicated a stronger attacking performance, though only seven were on target, perhaps pointing to a need to be more clinical when in front of goal. Still, a more convincing showing from Rodgers’ men.

The xG race chart shows a pretty uneventful landscape for the first 25 minutes before Celtic got grips with their attacking prowess. By the time they scored their first goal, they were already above one in cumulative xG, finishing up with a score of 3.93 in this metric. Statistically, Kuhn had the highest xG chance – effectively a tap-in thanks to Kyogo – which was measured as 0.75 thanks to its close proximity to the goal. Smith had the visitors’ highest with 0.59 for his late consolation.

Team line-ups and positions

As usual, Celtic lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Kyogo leading the line ahead of Adam Idah. Width on the wings was provided by Daizen Maeda and Nicolas Kuhn, whilst Paulo Bernardo was given another chance in the middle of the park. Tomoki Iwata played as the holding midfielder, as Matt O’Riley pushed forward. Meanwhile, it was a welcome return for Cameron Carter-Vickers, who played alongside Stephen Welsh in defence, included due to Liam Scales’ knock in training. Joe Hart remained in goal, as Greg Taylor and Alastair Johnston operated the defensive flanks.

The passing networks, which illustrate who was most effective on the ball (OBV), paint a very interesting picture, as it shows just how front-footed Celtic were in the game. Indeed, thanks to the full-backs’ willingness to join the attack, Rodgers’ side effectively had eight attackers on the pitch, as they wrestled to break down St Johnstone’s low block. Despite Taylor’s positive showing, all of Celtic’s joy was effectively coming from the right, as Johnston, O’Riley and Kuhn all had warm OBV showings thanks to operating down this side. Despite not having a great deal of the ball, Kyogo’s OBV was also positive, judging by his red OBV circle in the diagram.

Not for the first time this season, Johnston led the way concerning OBV, with 0.57 for 91 passes. Not far behind was Kyogo, whose six passes generated 0.44, a great on-ball showing for the Japan striker. Bernardo and Maeda were both in the negatives, with -0.23 and -0.26 for each respective player.

In terms of key passes in the game, O’Riley was the top player, with his four generating 0.60 in xG. Kuhn was next, with his three scoring a higher 0.63 in xG in the process. Odin Thiago Holm and Kyogo had two, whilst Iwata had one.


The shot map makes for far better reading than last time out in the league against Hearts, as Celtic peppered Dimitar Mitov’s goal with opportunities, despite being wayward with a few chances. Kyogo and Kuhn’s goals were from close range, as shown by the warm colourings which correlate to xG. Even O’Riley was trying to be audacious, with his speculative effort from a free-kick nearly getting the better of Mitov, as shown on the edge of the right-hand-side of the box.

The goal of the day came from Forrest, who has looked bright in the last couple of games. After good work from O’Riley to find the veteran wide-man, Forrest took a touch to set himself, before rifling the ball into the back of the St Johnstone net. An unstoppable strike, from a player admittedly in the twilight of his career, though he is still capable of the extraordinary from time to time.

As shown in the goal graphic, Forrest’s original shot generated only 0.12 in xG, although it skyrocketed to 0.62 once the ball left his left boot, indicating the quality of the strike. Mitov had no chance in the away side’s goal, in truth.

For top shooters, Kyogo led the way with five, scoring a whopping 1.27 for his efforts, as well as a goal on the day. Despite his role as a number six, Iwata was next with three shots at 0.63, with Forrest, O’Riley and Maeda all managing two for their troubles.

Pressing and defending

Celtic were expectedly out-pressured by their opponents, as St Johnstone executed 247 to the home side’s 153. Despite this, Celtic had more pressure regains, at a rate of 39 to 31 in favour of the champions. Bernardo and Kuhn managed the most for Celtic with 23 and 21 pressures respectively, with Maeda not far behind on 19 in 90 minutes. Bernardo and Johnston had four counterpressures, as Iwata, Kyogo and Kuhn had three.

Perhaps an indication of how the game went, Celtic’s joint-best defender concerning tackles and interceptions was Kuhn, with five combined alongside Taylor. Maeda was next with four of his own. Welsh had eight clearances and six aerial duel wins, the same as Carter-Vickers. Johnston had six defensive clearances of his own, as he got stuck in when required on the day.

All in all, a successful day for Rodgers’ team, as his side got back to winning ways on a cold afternoon at Celtic Park. They will stay top for the duration of the international break, thanks to Rangers' game against Dundee this afternoon being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.