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Second-half blitz leads Celtic to comfortable victory over 10-man St Mirren

Celtic scored five goals in 25 second-half minutes to turn round a half-time deficit against 10-man St Mirren.

Mark O’Hara gave the home side a sixth-minute lead from the penalty spot but St Mirren’s hopes of repeating their September victory over the champions were undone by Charles Dunne’s professional foul and 38th-minute red card.

Goals from Jota and Alistair Johnston turned the game on its head and substitutes Liel Abada, Matt O’Riley and Oh Hyeon-gyu all scored as Celtic triumphed 5-1 and restored their nine-point lead over Rangers at the top of the cinch Premiership.

Ange Postecoglou started with the same team that lined up for last Sunday’s Viaplay Cup final victory over Rangers but they were brought back down to earth following a delayed VAR review after Greg Taylor handled as Alex Greive tried to knock the ball past him.

The ball hit the left-back’s hand from close range but his arm was away from his body and referee David Dickinson pointed to the spot after watching the incident on his monitor several minutes after it happened.

O’Hara stroked the ball into the corner of the net just out of Joe Hart’s reach.

Dickinson had already made a decision before the match started when he ruled St Mirren had to wear their black Paisley away strip and Celtic their light grey third kit to avoid a clash of colours.

Celtic did not look their normal selves on the ball in the early stages either but they gradually began to create chances.

Reo Hatate’s first-time effort from 18 yards grazed the crossbar after a poor clearance and the Japanese midfielder twice set up Jota with back-heels. Trevor Carson pushed over the Portuguese winger’s first effort and Dunne diverted the second past the post.

The Saints defender was less effective with an attempted passback which sent Kyogo Furuhashi clear and he instantly reacted to pull the striker down. Dickinson issued a red card and pointed to the spot but the second punishment was downgraded to a free-kick by VAR official Andrew Dallas without Dickinson being asked to watch the tight call on screen.

Marcus Fraser blocked Callum McGregor’s resulting shot and denied Hatate with a similar intervention before the break.

St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson brought on defender Richard Taylor for striker Greive in the wake of the red card to move to a 5-3-1 formation while Abada replaced Daizen Maeda at half-time.

The Israel winger was involved in the 56th-minute equaliser, releasing Aaron Mooy to deliver a low cross which was ultimately scrambled over the line by a grounded Jota.

Mooy also set up Celtic’s second goal five minutes later when Johnston got above O’Hara to head home the Australian’s free-kick at the far post.

Robinson sent on Tony Watt and moved to a back four but his side were almost immediately caught out by a counter-attack which finished with Furuhashi hitting the post and Taylor clearing off the line from Abada.

The substitute soon had his goal, thrusting into space in the box before drilling into the far corner in the 70th minute.

Abada was again involved as Celtic moved further ahead two minutes later, setting up O’Riley to sweep home first time.

Oh drilled home a 81st-minute penalty after Dickinson was called to his monitor to study Alex Gogic’s challenge on the South Korean striker.