Celtic earn victory with stunning fightback

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Marc-Antoine Fortune's second-half brace against 10-man St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park helped take rampant Celtic to within seven points of Rangers with a 4-1 win.

Liam Craig gave Saints the lead from the spot after Glenn Loovens had tugged Steven Milne inside the box but the game turned in the visitors' favour after Graham Gartland was sent off seconds in the second half for a last man foul on Fortune.

The former Nancy striker equalised with a wonderful angled drive in the 64th minute and notched a second from close range, either side of a Georgios Samaras drive, with substitute Paddy McCourt sealing the win with a late solo goal.

Celtic got off to the worst possible start when Loovens restrained Milne to prevent the Perth striker latching on to a clever one-two with Kenny Deuchar and referee William Collum pointed to the spot. Craig stepped up to send Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc the wrong way with a well-taken penalty.

The visitors responded quickly and moments later midfielder Zheng Zhi's effort sped through a packed penalty box only to be cleared off the line by Saints midfielder Jody Morris.

Around 14 seconds into the second half Gartland was shown a straight red card by referee Collum for a tackle on Fortune at the edge of the Saints box when he was judged to be the last defender.

Celtic gained complete control of the game and in the 53rd minute McGeady played a one-two with Fortune but slid his shot from 12 yards high over the crossbar.

Samaras then mis-kicked eight yards out from Niall McGinn's cut-back before the Greece striker missed an even easier chance, hitting the outside of the post from 10 yards after being set up by Fortune.

But the Celtic goal eventually arrived in the 64th minute when Fortune took a McGowan pass and from 16 yards fired a wonderful drive past the flailing Graeme Smith and into the far corner.

Smith then made a fine save from McCourt but the respite lasted only seconds, until the 76th minute when Samaras pounced on Josh Thompson's knock-down inside the St Johnstone box to send a left-footed volley low into the corner.

With 10 minutes remaining the beleaguered Smith did well to parry McCourt's long-range drive but Fortune was perfectly placed to send the rebound through the goalkeeper and into the far corner.

McCourt then rattled in a fourth after a trademark run to give added gloss to the win which, it has to be said, looked less likely at the break.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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