Celtic end poor home run in Scottish Premier League by beating St Mirren

Hoops' thoughts turn to Champions League after ending domestic drought at Parkhead

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 4:43am


Celtic always believed in themselves, defender Charlie Mulgrew said after his side grabbed their first home league win since October with a 2-0 defeat of St Mirren.

The Hoops have excelled in European competition this season, with coach Neil Lennon leading his side to the last 16 of the Champions League for only the third time in their history. However, at the same time as picking up superb home wins against Barcelona and Spartak Moscow, Celtic have lost to Kilmarnock and Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Parkhead, while St Johnstone held them to a draw.

Celtic finally put their home hoodoo in the Scottish Premier League to bed with a first-half tap-in from Victor Wanyama and a late strike from Gary Hooper, sealing their first win at Parkhead in the league since their 1-0 victory over Hearts on October 7.

Mulgrew, who set up both goals from corners, admitted it was a relief to get back to winning ways at home following victories at Kilmarnock and Arbroath.

"It was great to get the win at home. St Mirren sat in and made it difficult for us, as many teams have this season, but we managed to get the two goals and should probably have been more," the Scotland international said. "We always had the belief that we could put a run together and we have begun to do that now after another good result."

"The emphasis at home is on us to go and attack, and it can be difficult for us at times, but we managed to do it today and get the result," he added. "A lot was made of it when a couple of homes results did not go our way and people caught on to it. But we always believed we could change that and go on a run."

The win against St Mirren extended Celtic's lead at the top of the league to four points with a game in hand over nearest rivals Motherwell. And Lennon was delighted with the result.

"I don't know if we'll win the game in hand, but four points is decent, and with a game in hand we're starting to get a bit of daylight between us and everyone else, which is obviously what we want," the Celtic boss said. "The most pleasing aspect today was the home win, the clean sheet and it was good to see Hooper scoring again.

"There was nothing stodgy about our play today and we created some real clear cut chances, and but for better finishing we could have won the game more handsomely," he added. "There is always that wariness, particularly when you're at home and only a goal up. I'd like to see us put teams away a little bit earlier, and if that comes, then I think we'll be rampant.

"Now we've got a lot to look forward to. Obviously, this week we've got the Champions League draw and then the games in the new year, and who knows what they might bring."

Mulgrew said he hoped to be paired with Manchester United in Thursday's draw for the last 16 of Europe's elite competition.

"I would like Manchester United, personally. but whoever it is we have to be prepared," he said. "I have never been involved in a Battle of Britain game before, and it would be a hard game. "We got a good result against Barcelona here. I'm not going to say we fancy our chances against Manchester United, but we have to believe in ourselves."