Celtic back on track after nervy win at Firhill
Celtic survived a nervy finish as they ended a two-game winless run in the Scottish Premiership with a narrow 2-1 win over Partick Thistle at Firhill on Saturday.
The home side were without a victory against Celtic since 1995 but they held out against the Hoops until the 45th minute when Leigh Griffiths sent a shot on the turn past Tomas Cerny for his 35th goal of the season.
Celtic added another in the 54th minute when Callum McGregor fired home from a tight angle to put the Scottish champions on course for victory.
However, Thistle set up a tense finale when Sean Welsh netted a 85th minute penalty after Steven Lawless had been fouled by Erik Sviatchenko as Thistle ended a six-game goalless run against Celtic.
The win restores Celtic’s four-point advantage at the top of the table over Aberdeen, who take on Kilmarnock later on Saturday.
“I thought we won in a good way. We had a lot of chances and could have killed the game a bit earlier,” Celtic manager Ronny Deila said.
“I think the boys worked very hard, especially when we went 1-0 up and we played better and better.”
Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald rued his side’s missed chances.
“I was happy enough with the first half apart from the goal we lost,” Archibald said.
“Before that we had a half chance ourselves then Kris Doolan had a chance and we saw the other night against Aberdeen that you need to take your chances.”
At Firhill, Dedryck Boyata’s suspension meant Charlie Mulgrew moved into the centre of defence to partner Sviatchenko while Nir Bitton replaced the injured Stefan Johansen.
Partick Thistle had suffered 22 consecutive defeats against Celtic so it was no surprise that the Hoops started the stronger of the two sides with Cerny diving low to stop a diving header from Griffiths early on.
Gary Mackay-Steven then stabbed a cross from Kris Commons wide before McGregor dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box as Celtic looked for an early goal.
However, it wasn’t all one-way traffic with Craig Gordon scrambling to keep a Liam Lindsay effort from 25 yards from sneaking into the top corner.
The home side then had a great chance to end their goal drought against the Hoops when Doolan evaded a couple of challenges to break into the box but Gordon was quick off his line to block his shot.
With the game heading to the break it was Celtic who made the vital breakthrough. Mackay-Steven swung the ball into the box from the by-line and Griffiths took a touch to control it before spinning round to lash the ball low past Cerny, who couldn’t keep it out despite getting a hand to it.
Celtic only needed nine minutes of the second half to add another. Mackay-Steven was the architect again as he held up the ball before slotting it through for McGregor who evaded the challenge of Dan Seaborne and fired an angled shot past Cerny.
A brilliant save by Cerny denied Celtic a third in the 73rd minute as McGregor sent Griffiths through on goal but his strike was blocked by the keeper’s leg before substitute Colin Kazim-Richards blasted the rebound wide.
Thistle pulled one back from the penalty spot in the 85th minute. Sviatchenko’s tug on Lawless’ shirt saw referee Stephen Finnie point to the spot and Welsh sent Gordon the wrong way to reduce the deficit.
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