Friday, August 11, 2017
CELTIC…1 (Ntcham 25)
NEW Bhoy Olivier Ntcham ensured Celtic’s dominant display at Firhill resulted in three points after the Frenchman’s first-half volley sunk Partick Thistle.The midfielder showed terrific technique to lash home a ferocious strike in the 25th minute following a Hoops corner to open his account for the club.
And although the Scottish treble-winners never added to their tally, they never looked in danger of losing their grip on the spoils as they extended their unbeaten domestic run to 51 matches.
James Forrest led the attack for Celtic as the Invincibles looked to continue their impressive start to the season – one of eight changes to the team that swept Kilmarnock aside in the League Cup second round on Tuesday night.
Celtic walked away with a 5-0 victory at Firhill in May last season and Brendan Rodgers’ side came into the game high in confidence, having put four goals past Hearts last weekend before going on to dominate the Rugby Park side earlier in the week.
The Hoops piled on the pressure from the off, with Kieran Tierney looking hungry out on the left. Just minutes into the game the 20-year-old knocked the ball past Steven Lawless and fired a low cross into the box. Moments later, Tierney again found his way past Lawless out on the left and won a corner for the Hoops after his cross into the box was cleared.
It would be a recurring theme for Thistle with Tierney’s pace and strength troubling them all night.The first clear cut chance came inside 10 minutes after Scott Sinclair picked up the ball outside the box and ran at the Thistle defence before laying off to Forrest, whose driving shot forced a save from Cerny.
One minute later, and Partick Thistle’s Adam Barton slipped 40 yards out, allowing Ntcham to pounce on the loose ball and find Forrest just outside the box. His low drive from just inside the left-hand side of the box came close to opening the scoring but it rocketed past the wrong side of the far post and went out for a goal kick.
The only time the Celtic defence was called into action was 20 minutes in, but Jozo Simunovic made a sliding tackle on the edge of the box to comfortably dispossess Ryan Edwards.Celtic quickly resumed the offensive as they won a free kick midway through half after McGregor was brought down just outside the box. It was taken by Bitton whose shot forced a save from the keeper.
The Hoops broke the deadlock on 25 minutes, after Celtic’s corner was cleared only as far as Ntcham, whose volley from the edge of the box thundered into the centre of the goal under the keeper.
Celtic continued to dominate proceedings for the remainder of the first half and more chances came. Midway through the first half Mikael Lustig picked out Scott Brown in the box but the captain’s looping header landed on top of the net.
Jonny Hayes then came close after the Irishman collected the ball on the edge of the box before spinning round and firing off a shot which was saved.Early in the second half, Tierney came close to his second goal in two games afterhe disposed Lawless just inside the Thistle half and tore downthe wing, but his powerful attempt went inches past the far post.
Griffiths came on for Hayes 16 minutes into the second half and wasted no time in posing a goal-scoring threat. After timing his run well, Griffiths received the ball from Rogic and drove down the right, coming close to picking out Rogic, but the Thistle defence cleared the cross for a corner.
Simunovic almost doubled Celtic’s lead from a Griffiths corner 20 minutes before the end, but the defender’s header was cleared off the line. Shortly after, the defender galloped forwardand fired off a shot from outside the box which was deflected out for a corner.
Rogic hit the side netting from a tight angle with 10 minutes left and right at the death, Griffiths’ placed shot from inside the box was blocked by Niall Keown and went behind for a corner as the Bhoys saw out the closing moments to claim the win, with attention now turning to next week’s UEFA Champions League play-off against FC Astana.
CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Armstrong 78); Hayes (Griffiths 61), McGregor (Rogic 61), Sinclair; Forrest Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Ralston, Benyu,
PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Cerny; Elliot, Turnbull, Keown, Booth; Lawless (Erskine 64), Bannigan (McCarthy 82), Barton, Edwards, Sammon; Doolan (Storey 55) Not Used: Scully, Nitriansky, Nisbet, Penrice, McCarthy