We wanted to make statement, says Christie as Celtic thrash St Johnstone

Ryan Christie was delighted to send out a message as his brilliant hat-trick helped Celtic begin their Ladbrokes Premiership defence with a 7-0 thrashing of St Johnstone.

Christie set up the opener for Mikey Johnston before scoring the next three goals from long range.

Odsonne Edouard and substitutes Olivier Ntcham and Leigh Griffiths netted after Christie went off as Celtic showed a ruthless streak.

Christie said: “Going into the game we wanted to make a statement so to start like that, we are obviously delighted.

“We need to make this place the fortress that it’s known for and to do that you need to dominate teams and win games with big margins. We moved the ball very well and it paid off.”

Christie, who has six goals in five games this season, added: “I loved playing a part in the European games but domestically I want to really kick on. I was happy enough last season managing to get in the starting line-up but now I really need to kick on.

“Being an attacking player, there is an expectation to provide goals by scoring and assisting, so my job is to do that.”

Manager Neil Lennon was thrilled by his players.

“That’s a perfect performance in every aspect of our play – clean sheet, two very good attacking full-backs, two centre-halves who were strong and athletic, great midfield and played with real attacking intent the whole game,” he said.

“There was a relentlessness about them which pleased me. It’s always difficult to come in at half-time with a good lead and pick up where you left off and they got better as the game went on. The substitutes made a great contribution too.

“I liked the Ryan hat-trick and they were great goals all round. I loved the connection between the players and the fans, I thought the atmosphere was perfect. The players responded in the right way.

“We are not getting carried away but that is a good marker. Is there more to come? You would like to think so when we get fitter, stronger, better but I couldn’t ask for any more. We have beaten a very good, rugged St Johnstone team and we have taken them apart at times.

“An opening game of the season and seven goals, wow. Just wow.”

The only down side for Celtic was an injury to debutant right-back Hatem Abd Elhamed, who could be a doubt for Wednesday’s Champions League third qualifying round first leg against Cluj.

“We are hoping he will make it,” Lennon said. “He got a dead leg just before half-time, felt he could maybe go on for another 10-15 minutes but there might have been a bit of a bleed there so we will have to monitor that.

“I thought he was outstanding and his partner on the other side (Boli Bolingoli) had a great game too, two big, strong direct full-backs who played very well.”

Saints manager Tommy Wright admits his squad needs reinforcements.

“There was at least four goals from shots outside the box and free shots when we have enough people back to deal with it,” he said. “So there is a lack of leadership and communication there.

“And it wasn’t until we put Ally McCann on in the second half that we looked as if we had someone who wanted to win the ball back, stay on the ball and get us up the park.

“The fact I’m bringing on Ally McCann who was on loan at Stranraer last year and Callum Hendry who was on loan at Brechin shows me where we are with my squad.

“It is evident we need a striker in and, on today, we probably need more than a striker.”

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