LATE goals from James Forrest and Timothy Weah earned Celtic a hard-fought victory over St Johnstone that restored their six point lead over Rangers at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership this afternoon.

Brendan Rodgers’s side dominated the match in Perth and created a raft of second-half scoring chances.

But Tommy Wright’s goalkeeper Zander Clark was in inspired form and repeatedly denied them.

Clark pulled off sensation saves from Oli Burke twice, Jozo Simunovic twice, Odsonne Edouard and Scott Sinclair and it looked as though his heroics were going to secure the home team a draw and a point.

But Forrest, who had scored four times on his last visit to McDiarmid Park back in October, turned a square ball across goal from substitute Weah in from a few yards out in the 78th minute.

Forrest hobbled off injured shortly after his goal and the visitors, who had already brought on Jeremy Toljan, Edouard and Weah, saw out the closing stages game with just 10 men.

But Paris Saint-Germain loanee Weah added another with just over a minute of regulation time remaining after a devastating counter attacking move involving Sinclair and Callum McGregor.

Sean Goss, the Queens Park Rangers midfielder who spent the second half of last season on loan at Rangers, made his debut for St Johnstone after completing a temporary move to McDiarmid Park before the January transfer window closed on. He played as the holding midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Goss was one of four changes that Wright made the starting line-up that had taken to the field against Celtic at Parkhead on Wednesday night. Elsewhere, Ross Callachan, Matty Kennedy and Tony Watt all came in as Liam Craig, David Wotherspoon, Michael O'Halloran and Blair Alston dropped out.

Celtic, who are currently without their first choice centre backs Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic, suffered a scare in the very first minute when Kristoffer Ajer went down injured.

The Norwegian defender hurt his chin on Watt’s as head as he tried to win a ball in the air and required medical attention as he lay on the ground. It took four minutes before he returned to the fray.

Celtic keeper Scott Bain did well to deny Kennedy with his legs in the fifth minute after the St Johnstone midfielder had been sent through on goal by Murray Davidson.

Watt shot wide seven minutes later after Kennedy and Scott Tanser had combined well down the left to tee him up with a chance inside the visitors’ area.

Celtic had a strong claim for a penalty ignored by referee Willie Collum in the 15th minute after Burke had pounced on an underhit pass back by Danny Swanson. Jason Kerr appeared to make contact with the West Brom loanee, who was once again playing as a lone front man, but the match official wasn’t convinced.

Ajer came close to opening the scoring in the 27th minute when he rose well and met a Ryan Christie free-kick. His header, though, went just wide of Clark’s right post. Richard Foster then cleared a cross come shot from Burke off his goal line.

Wright’s side sat back throughout the opening 45 minutes and at times had six men strung across the back. Rodgers clearly felt he had to make a change at half-time and replaced Mikael Lustig with Toljan at the start of the second-half.

The Borussia Dortmund defender, who hasn’t featured for the Bundesliga club this season, made an immediate impact. He combined well with Forrest just three minutes after coming on to tee up Burke for a shot inside the St Johnstone box.

The forward’s attempt was powerfully struck and on target, but Clark showed quick reflexes and got his right hand to the ball.

St Johnstone should have taken the lead in the 53rd minute after Kennedy launched a cross to Watt in the Celtic six yard box from wide on the left. But the striker failed to connect and the scoreline remained goalless.

Toljan supplied Burke in the 65th minute, but the former Scotland man was again denied by the inspired Clark. It was to be the striker’s last involvement in the match. He was replaced by Edouard shortly afterwards.

Celtic continued to apply the pressure – and continued to be thwarted by the St Johnstone keeper. He was equal to shots from Simunovic, Edouard and Sinclair.

Edouard was injured as Joe Shaughnessy cleared the ball to safety and he was replaced by Weah just eight minutes after coming on. The substitute set up Forrest and then scored himself in during his time on the park.

Ajer was sent off in injury-time for pulling St Johnstone substitute Callum Hendry down when he was through on goal. But this was a pleasing afternoon for the Scottish champions and their supporters.