Friday August 11th: Scottish Premiership; Partick Thistle 0 Celtic 1 (Ntcham 25’)
Celtic made it two league wins out of two in a rather dull match at Firhill, enlivened only by Olivier Ntcham’s rocket of a goal and a late penalty shout for Thistle.
With Wednesday’s game against Astana in mind Brendan Rodgers left Leigh Griffiths on the bench as he had a groin issue, with James Forrest playing the furthest forward. Bitton and Simunovic continued at the back, with Ntcham, Brown and McGregor the men in the middle.
The first chance of the game fell to Forrest, who was played in by Sinclair but Cerny made the save. Celtic then found it difficult to break Thistle down for a while, the lack of a natural forward being a real issue. The breakthrough did come however in the 25th minute. After a Nir Bitton free-kick had been saved, from the resulting corner the ball fell to Olivier Ntcham and his volley crashed into the net - via the aid of a slight touch from Scott Brown - for a fine first Celtic goal.
The closest we came to adding to our lead in the first half was from a Scott Brown header from a Lustig cross which landed on top of the net.
The first chance of the second half fell to Kieran Tierney, who went on a great run from the halfway line and his shot went just wide of the post. Minutes later Thistle missed a great chance to equalise, as a defensive lapse allowed Kris Doolan a free head six yards out but thankfully he headed over the bar.
This prompted Brendan Rodgers into making changes, as Rogic and Griffiths replaced McGregor and Hayes, and the two subs linked up for a Rogic effort which was blocked for a corner.
Jozo Simunovic then tried to win the game on his own, with a header being cleared off the line then with a shot deflected out for a corner.
The final ball was letting Celtic down, and when we did furnish a chance after Forrest found Rogic the Australian hit the side netting.
After a Scott Brown goal was disallowed it seemed that the game was petering out to a 1-0 win, until a lapse of concentration let in Storey and it looked as if Bitton fouled him but Andrew ‘Son of’ Dallas waved away the claims and the game ended 1-0.
It wasn’t the best performance but these are the sort of results that win titles. Simunovic, Ntcham and Tierney all played well enough but understandably minds would have been on Wednesday’s game against Astana, which becomes the focus of attention now.