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Olivier Ntcham off the mark as Celtic down Partick Thistle

Thistle, who were controversially denied a late penalty claim, slip to the bottom of the table on goal difference.

Published: 12th August 2017 07:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2017 07:52 AM   |  A+A-

Celtic Football Club (File | AFP)

By AFP

GLASGOW: Olivier Ntcham's first goal for Celtic was enough to give the Scottish champions a 1-0 win over Partick Thistle at Firhill on Friday.

French midfielder Ntcham, signed from Manchester City in the summer, grabbed the only goal of the match in the 26th minute as Brendan Rodgers' side made it two wins out of two in the Scottish Premiership.

It was the perfect preparation for Celtic, who are now unbeaten in 51 games domestically, ahead of their Champions League play-off first leg against Kazakhstan side Astana at Parkhead next Wednesday.

"We had a lot of control of the ball and created chances but didn't really have a finishing touch tonight," Rodgers said.

"We'll play better, but hopefully tonight's a game we'll look back on towards the end of the season and see it as an important three points."

Thistle, who were controversially denied a late penalty claim, slip to the bottom of the table on goal difference.

Partick manager Alan Archibald had no doubts his side should have had a spot-kick.

"It is a foul anywhere else on the pitch. It's a big call in the last minute of a game against Celtic and you don't tend to get them," Archibald said.

"I was disappointed to lose a goal from a set play but credit to the guys as they hung in there."

As expected, Celtic made wholesale changes from the inexperienced side that thrashed Kilmarnock in the League Cup, with only Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney and Jonny Hayes retaining their places.

The changes didn't seem to disrupt the Glasgow club, who dominated from the start and missed a couple of early chances.

Despite deputising in the centre of defence because of injuries, Israeli international Nir Bitton wasn't slow in getting forward and the midfielder forced Tomas Cerny to push his curling free-kick round the post after he lifted it over the wall.

Partick's defence cleared the resultant corner to the edge of the box, where Ntcham was waiting to thump a ferocious right-foot volley into the net via a slight deflection off captain Scott Brown.

Positive

Brown was unlucky not to find himself on the score sheet minutes later when he got on the end of Mikel Lustig's inviting cross into the box, but the midfielder's looping header went just over.

Partick had been starved of chances but began the second half in a more positive manner, with Gordon easily holding a header from Doolan before Christie Elliott fired a left-foot shot over.

The hosts should have equalised in the 53rd minute when Elliott picked out the unmarked Doolan in the box, but Thistle's record goal scorer sent his free header off-target.

Celtic brought Leigh Griffiths and Australian international Tom Rogic off the bench to restore some urgency to their attacks and the pair quickly combined for a chance that the Socceroos star knocked wide.

Griffiths was involved again as Jozo Simunovic got on the end of his corner to send a header towards goal, but Thistle defender Callum Booth was on the line to clear the danger.

The Hoops were lucky not to be punished in stoppage time when substitute Miles Storey was pushed in the back by Bitton, yet referee Andrew Dallas waved away the home side's penalty claims.

Rangers will attempt to keep pace with their rivals at the top of the table when they welcome Hibernian to Ibrox on Saturday, while Aberdeen face Ross County.



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