Thursday 22 February 2018

Brown deflection benefits Bhoys

Partick Thistle 0 Celtic 1

Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham celebrates scoring his goal. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA
Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham celebrates scoring his goal. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA

Jamie Holland

Celtic were not at their best but still proved too good for Partick Thistle at Firhill.

The visitors scored what proved to be the winner in the 24th minute when midfielder Olivier Ntcham fired in a drive which took a deflection off Hoops skipper Scott Brown.

The treble winners, with a Champions League play-off tie against Astana coming up on Wednesday, dominated for large spells but found creating chances increasingly more difficult, giving the battling Jags hope all the way to the final whistle.

After starting with five teenagers in the convincing 5-0 Betfred Cup win over Kilmarnock in midweek, boss Brendan Rodgers brought back experience with his eight changes. James Forrest replaced benched striker Leigh Griffiths as the main attacker with Brown, Mikael Lustig, Nir Bitton, Jozo Simunovic, Ntcham, Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair also coming into the starting line-up.

Partick signed strikers Miles Storey and Conor Sammon earlier in the day and the latter, on a season-long loan from Hearts, started up front while Storey, who arrived from Aberdeen on a two-year deal for, was on the bench.

The breakthrough came after home 'keeper Tomas Cerny made a fine save from Bitton's curling free-kick from 25 yards out at the expense of a corner. Jonny Hayes' cross was cleared but only to Ntcham and the 21-year-old French midfielder, signed from Manchester City in the summer, fired it straight back in with the ball appearing to come off Brown before it ended up behind Cerny.

It was all too comfortable for the champions at that point and they came close to a second when Brown headed a Lustig cross on to the roof of the net.

Six minutes after the break Kieran Tierney drove into the Thistle penalty area only to drag his shot wide. Celtic could have made it two in the 70th minute had Callum Booth not headed Simunovic's header from a Griffiths corner off the line.

Irish Independent

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