The Hoops had performed well only to lose 2-0 to AC Milan in their Champions League Group H opener in the San Siro on Wednesday night but they responded with a first-half blitz of the Perth side at Parkhead, easing into a comfortable interval lead through goals by Finnish striker Teemu Pukki, making his first start for his new club, and midfielder Charlie Mulgrew.
The second half was mostly a non-event until Saints substitute Liam Caddis, on for David Wotherspoon, bundled in a Dave MacKay cross with nine minute remaining before another St Johnstone replacement, Stevie May, hit the post in added time with the Hoops hanging on for the final whistle.
The victory took Celtic to within one goal of league leaders Inverness and the Hoops boss was in no mood to complain about how they got there.
"I'm not going to let the last 10 minutes detract away from what was for the first 80, a top performance," said Lennon.
"For me, it was a natural course of events after midweek.
"There was mental and physical fatigue in the last 10 minutes which was totally understandable.
"We had no time to prepare for this game at all. It was all about recovery from Wednesday.
"I thought the first half we were fantastic, the best we've played this season and it was after a big Champions League game in midweek, so I take my hat off to the players, it is a big, big win.
"There was a flow to us, we were creating good chances.
"Anthony Stokes got one off the line, he flashed a shot wide, he looked half-decent on the counter attack.
"But 2-0 is obviously a funny scoreline. If St Johnstone get one then it is all hands to the pump as it were but as I said, I won't let the last 10 minutes affect what was for me, a very good performance."
- Sports & Recreation
- David Wotherspoon