Ange Postecoglou believes the manner of Celtic’s last-gasp victory in Perth can give his side confidence.
The Premiership leaders looked like dropping points on the road for a second league game running when St Johnstone defender Alex Mitchell levelled three minutes into stoppage-time following a free-kick into the box.
But Giorgos Giakoumakis turned home Alexandro Bernabei’s cross from close range two minutes later to seal a dramatic 2-1 win.
Celtic had several chances to add to the lead given to them by Andrew Considine’s 42nd-minute own goal but Saints came into the game as an attacking force in the final quarter with substitute Stevie May causing problems and hitting the post via Joe Hart’s touch.
Postecoglou said: “It’s a game we probably should have put to bed a little earlier with the chances we had. At 1-0 you always know it’s going to be on a knife edge. They are a team that lump balls into the box and you have to defend sometimes.
“They obviously got the goal late but, again, great character and resilience by the lads. We did that a few times last year and we are going to have to show that again this year.
“You can win a game of football many ways but winning it this way also provides some confidence in the fact that we still have that character and resilience in the group.”
Saints manager Callum Davidson admitted he dared not celebrate after Mitchell equalised, but he still could not believe the circumstances which led to the winner.
Wing-back Drey Wright rolled his ankle as he was about to receive a pass and James McCarthy nipped in to send Bernabei down the left wing.
Davidson said: “I actually didn’t celebrate the goal because we still had two minutes to go. I was actually surprised Mitch scored, it’s the first time he has hit the target in training and a game.
“I am gutted for the lads we couldn’t get something from the game because I thought we definitely deserved it.
“The last couple of minutes we have to defend better. Drey obviously rolls his ankle, but we have to switch on to that. I thought we stopped a little bit and it’s a hard lesson to take.
“I will take that type of performance against the Old Firm and the energy levels, commitment and desire to get something from the game, but I am really annoyed at how we lost the second goal.”
Davidson felt there was little Wright himself could have done once he was hurt.
“It’s a hard one because I have had it myself when you roll your ankle,” he said. “It’s excruciating pain and then it subsides after two minutes.”
Celtic were beginning life without an extended spell out for skipper Callum McGregor, who does not need surgery on a knee injury but looks unlikely to feature before the World Cup.
“Initial reports are that the break probably helps us a little bit,”
Postecoglou said. “He will miss three or four weeks, which is a fair amount of football, but the good thing is he will be raring to go when the season resumes, and that will be a massive bonus for us.”
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