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Mesmerising 'Derry Pele' saves Celtic

Super-sub Paddy McCourt rescued Celtic's title bid with an inspired 39-minute display, rounded off with a glorious goal as Celtic came from behind to beat St Johnstone 4-1.

The 'Derry Pele', as some Celtic fans have dubbed the former Shamrock Rovers and Brandywell winger, was at his mesmerising best as Celtic took full advantage of Rangers' draw with Hearts to reduce the gap at the top of the SPL to seven points, and the Hoops have a game in hand.

There was a strong eircom League presence in the match, with Niall McGinn starting for Celtic and former Drogheda defender Graham Gartland red carded 10 seconds into the second half.

It was McCourt, though that had the biggest influence as Celtic created a remarkable total of 26 second-half chances as they lay siege on the St Johnstone goal.

Whether the win will be a turning point for Tony Mowbray remains to be seen, with Wednesday's visit from in-form Hibs certain to test the resilience of the ex-West Brom boss' injury-hit squad.

The Celtic boss had endured his toughest week in the job on the back of a home draw with Falkirk and the fall-out over a report that Scott Brown had been told he would be sold during this month's transfer window.

After watching record signing Marc-Antoine Fortune score two crucial goals, Mowbray said: "We created more chances in the second half and ultimately the goals came.

"Marco Fortune works hard for the side, he brings a certain style to his play, he brings midfielders into the game but strikers have to score goals.

Fortune delivered an exquisite equaliser in the 64th minute after a Liam Craig penalty had given St Johnstone a first-half lead.

Georgios Samaras volleyed Celtic in front in the 77th minute. Fortune added his second goal in the 81st minute before McCourt got the goal his performance deserved when he shook off his markers on the left, drifted in across the 18-yard line then smashed an unstoppable shot high into the net.

Mowbray added: "The goals came in the end, with some quality finishes, so I'm happy enough.

"My message at half-time was to keep playing football and keep moving the ball around, and things will turn.

"It's not a philosophy that changes with the wind. If you believe in what you do and the players are brave enough to keep going, you'll get your rewards in the end."

Meanwhile, Denmark international striker Morten Rasmussen is expected to complete a medical today before signing for Celtic in a £1.8m move from Brondby.