Tuesday, January 23, 2018
(Sinclair 55, Griffiths 70)
CELTIC returned to action in the Scottish Premiership with a 2-1 win over Partick Thistle at Firhill. The Hoops battled back to clinch a thrilling victory in the Glasgow derby and move 11 points clear at the top of the table.
The Jags went into half-time in the lead after being awarded a penalty, but second-half goals from Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths ensured the Hoops secured a well-deserved win.
Celtic kicked off proceedings at pace and attacked Thistle from the start. Kieran Tierney drove a low ball across the face of goal in the first minute which deflected through to Edouard, but the French striker was unable to test the keeper with his effort.
He had a better opportunity two minutes later when Olivier Ntcham intercepted a stray pass and quickly slipped the ball through to his team-mate. Edouard cut inside and fired off a shot with his right foot from the edge of the area, but Tomas Cerney saved comfortably.
Celtic’s best opportunity of the half came by way of Ntcham. The French midfielder had a shot from 30 yards but his strike flashed just wide of the post.Craig Gordon was forced into making a great save midway through the half when he pushed over Miles Storey’s shot from the right side of the box. Alan Archibald’s side were well-organised and made life difficult for the Hoops with high pressing and aggressive defending which limited any space for Celtic to exploit.
They almost conceded from a corner, though. A high ball to the back post was side footed back across goal by Ntcham and Edouard’s back-heel was saved by Cerny.As the half progressed Celtic chipped away at their opponent’s defence and continued to craft opportunities. Tierney went in search of his fourth goal of the season when he cut inside and drove towards goal but his shot from 25 yards failed to hit the target.
The Jags took the lead against the run of play though when Mikael Lustig’s attempted clearance gifted Storey the ball inside the box. Craig Gordon rush off his line to pounce on the danger but the referee awarded a penalty after ruling Lustig had pulled the Thistle striker, and Conor Sammon finished from the spot.
Brendan Rodgers made some changes at half-time and Celtic switched to a back three as Lustig made way for Griffiths.The Scotland striker was unable to covert a golden opportunity early in the second period. The ball was played through to him and he had only the keeper to beat, but Cerny was off his line in a flash and was able to block the shot.
It took Celtic just 10 minutes from the restart to force a way back into the game, though. Scott Sinclair cut inside and ran across goal before being chopped down by Mustapha Dumbuya inside the box. The Hoops winger then calmly tucked away the penalty away to score his 17th goal of the season.
From there Celtic appeared to move up a gear and began playing at a tempo which Thistle struggled to contain. Forrest was on form all night and looked determined to get his name on the scoresheet. He came close to doing so when he burst forward with the ball and cut outside before letting off a powerful shot which was unfortunately straight at the keeper.
Ntcham played well in the second half and created openings in the final third with some astute passing in behind the defence. He supplied McGregor, who timed his run perfectly, with a wonderful pass into the box but the shot was again saved.
Moments later Cerny again saved his team when Tierney’s right-footed driven shot from distance was heading for the bottom corner before he tipped it round the post.Brendan Rodgers’ tactical changes at half-time paid off and Celtic had turned the game around midway through the second half when Griffiths put Celtic ahead.
Another darting run from Forrest opened Thistle up and the winger slipped the ball out to Brown. The captain picked out the in running Griffiths who threaded the ball in with his left foot at the near post.A third goal for the Hoops looked certain when a looping ball over the top found Griffiths clear through on goal but Thistle defender Baily Cargill denied him with a last-ditch tackle inside the penalty box.
In the end Celtic had to settle for just 2-1 win but it could have been far more given the numerous chances.
CELTIC: (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig (Griffiths 45), Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown; McGregor, Ntcham; Forrest, Sinclair (Simunovic 76), Edouard (Bitton 83)
Not Used: De Vries , Kouassi, Johnston, Dembele,
PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Cerney; Dumbuya, Cargill, Keown, Osman; Spittal, Sammon, Edwards, Penrice, McCarthy; Storey (Erskin 76)
Not Used: Scully, Booth, Doolan, Barton, McGinn, Nitriansky