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SUN 18 SEPT 2022SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP St Mirren 2 Celtic

By Amanda Caroline  •  September 18, 2022  •  18
Mark O'Hara scores
Mark O'Hara lost his marker to head St Mirren in front

St Mirren stunned a subdued Celtic by inflicting their first league defeat in 364 days and ending the 100% start to their Scottish Premiership defence.

Mark O'Hara rose unmarked to head the Paisley side in front shortly before half-time - the only effort on target in a largely flat opening 45 minutes.

And Jonah Ayunga nodded the impressive hosts' second after the break to inflict Celtic's first league loss since defeat at Livingston on 19 September last year and leave them two points above Rangers at the summit.

A third league win of the campaign takes St Mirren above Livingston into third place on goal difference.

The pre-match minute's applause in memory of Queen Elizabeth was disrupted by chants from the away end.

And Celtic's opening half was subdued, with David Turnbull, Aaron Mooy and Daizen Maeda off target with speculative efforts.

St Mirren seized their moment when Ryan Strain advanced on the right and delivered to the back post for the unmarked O'Hara to finish powerfully.

The visitors were now facing a new problem, having not trailed in a previous domestic game this season. They responded with a blocked Mooy shot and Liel Abada's overhead kick, which went over.

Reo Hatate and Jota took over from Mooy and Maeda at the break, which brought an uplift in intensity from Celtic, but the defending champions were soon caught out at a thrown-in.

Declan Gallagher's lofted delivery was headed up and around the box before Main nodded down for Ayunga to finish. Replays hinted at a possible offside but that did little to quell the home crowd's celebrations.

More Celtic changes followed, with Giorgos Giakoumakis and Sead Haksabanovic replacing Abada and Turnbull. But again St Mirren threatened from wide right with Strain crossing for O'Hara to head wide.

Headed attempts by Giakoumakis and Mortiz Jens were collected by home keeper Trevor Carson as Celtic pushed to get back into the match. And Carson cut out a Hatate cross in the six-yard box, forcing Richard Tait to make an important clearance.

And Jota's late header wide all but confirmed the result.

Player of the match - Jonah Ayunga

Jonah Ayunga scores
It was not just his goal that counted with the striker running tirelessly in attack

Discipline the key as St Mirren halt champions - analysis

Crucial to the hosts' success was discipline - man marking, the back five holding an appropriate line and restricting as much space as they could in their own half.

And Stephen Robinson's side were able to give Celtic's recast back four cause for concern even before the O'Hara opener, a slip by Stephen Welsh letting Ayunga into a dangerous area early on.

They took encouragement from those moments and pounced when afforded the chance to put aerial deliveries into the box. And the work didn't stop at 2-0, with the same tracking back and defensive endeavour securing a clean sheet.

Celtic's starting line-up reflected their busy schedule with six changes from the midweek Champions League draw with Shakhtar Donetsk.

The zip so apparent in their play in previous games was strangely absent and their trademark passes in behind defenders also missing, primarily due to Matt O'Riley only appearing for the closing stages.

After 38 unbeaten league games prior to this game, Ange Postecoglou's team have played and will play better than they did in Paisley.