McDonald just short of hat-trick as Celtic roll St Mirren

Scott McDonald was inches away from a hat-trick as Celtic returned to the top of the table with a 3-1 win over St Mirren.

The Australian striker netted the first goal when he drove from ten yards after being set up by Georgios Samaras in the 39th minute to give the home side the ascendency.

Four minutes later, the Hoops went two ahead when Aiden McGeady teed up Samaras and the Greece international slotted it home coolly and it looked like it was game, set, match but the visitors hit back almost immediately through Michael Higdon to make it 2-1 at the break.

Just over 15 minutes into the second term, McDonald gave Celtic a two-goal break when he knocked it in from the front post from a McGeady cross and in a bizarre incident late in the match, the Aussie almost completed his hat-trick but was thwarted by Buddies keeper Paul Gallacher.

St Mirren defender Chris Innes handled the ball in the area after being wrongfully sent off then brought back on again but the ensuing spot-kick, taken by McDonald, was saved by Gallacher and the follow-up was also knocked to safety.

There were calls that McDonald’s first goal was an own goal but the diminutive striker knew it wasn’t and was disappointed to miss out on a trio of goals.

"Someone told me that the first goal was an own goal and I gave him a strange look,'' he said. "It took a little nick off him but it was going in.

"The missed penalty will ruin my night even though it was a good performance. But the second save was very good. It is nice to get two goals, especially at Celtic Park.''