GLASGOW (AFP) – Celtic held off a late St Johntsone rally to claim a 2-1 win at Parkhead on Saturday that moves them level on points with Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Anthony Stokes set up Teemu Pukki to fire Celtic in front in the 10th minute as the Finn marked his home debut with a goal.
Charlie Mulgrew then drilled a long range strike past 'keeper Alan Mannus in the 26th minute as Celtic dominated.
Celtic dropped eight points in league matches following Champions League matches last season but never looked in any danger of taking anything but three points from St Johnstone in a match that was more one-sided than the score suggests until a late surge from Tommy Wright's side.
Chris Miller saw his effort blocked by Fraser Forster before Liam Caddis prodded home in the 82nd minute to pull one back for St Johnstone.
Substitute Stevie May hit the post with a header in stoppage time before Forster made a superb save to deny Dave MacKay as St Johnstone came close to stealing a point.
Celtic made just two changes following Wednesday night's European exertions against AC Milan with Derk Boerrigter and Pukki replacing Georgios Samaras and Mikel Lustig.
It took Pukki just 10 minutes to mark his home debut with a goal. Stokes controlled an Adam Matthews throw-in before playing a reverse pass into the path of the Finn who drilled it past Mannus, beating the 'keeper at his near post.
A second Celtic goal was inevitable and it came through Mulgrew in the 26th minute. Stokes was again the provider as his through ball came back off a St Johnstone defender into Mulgrew's path and he smashed a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 25 yards.
Celtic started the second-half in similar fashion and Stokes, who has started the season in impressive form, was inches wide with a shot from just outside the box immediately after the break.
It took St Johnstone until the 67th minute to fashion themselves a chance. David Wotherspoon did well to get away from Efe Ambrose and his cross from the right was met by sub May who sent his header just over.
Minutes later St Johnstone had Steven MacLean to thank as he cleared a Stokes header off the line after the Irishman connected with Mulgrew's corner.
Fraser Forster had come in for criticism following his part in AC Milan's second goal on Wednesday but he redeemed himself when he made a superb block to deny Chris Miller after the St Johnstone midfielder had raced clear in on goal.
St Johnstone had rarely threatened but pulled one back in the 82nd minute when Miller set up Caddis to prod home from a yard out to score against his former club.
May sent a header crashing off the base of the post before Forster superbly saved MacKay's follow-up in stoppage time as the home fans breathed a sigh of relief.
Elsewhere, Inverness lost for the first time as Scott Vernon scored a late winner for Aberdeen at Pittodrie, Hibs moved up to fifth with a 2-0 win over St Mirren, Ross County came from behind to defeat Hearts 2-1 while Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock ended in a 1-1 draw.