Celtic edge to narrow win at Partick

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Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham volleyed the visitors into a first half lead

Celtic survived a late penalty claim to earn a single goal win over Partick Thistle at Firhill.

Olivier Ntcham volleyed Celtic in front by virtue of a deflection off captain Scott Brown.

Kris Doolan passed up a golden opportunity to equalise when he put a free header over from close range.

There was late controversy when referee Andrew Dallas waved away strong shouts for a penalty after Nir Bitton appeared to shove Miles Storey in the box.

Partick Thistle started one of their new signings, Conor Sammon, and the other, Storey came off the bench during the night, as did Leigh Griffiths. James Forrest played through the middle until the striker made his appearance on the hour-mark.

Brendan Rodgers said before kick-off that he was hopeful of bringing in another player, possibly even before the Astana game in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Celtic have been pushing hard to resign Patrick Roberts from Manchester City, a player the visiting support adore and a man whose name they chanted during the game.

Was Rodgers referring to Roberts when talking about a new arrival? He wouldn’t say. How Celtic people will hope that he comes back. How the rest of Scottish football will sigh if he does. It’s hard to enough lay a glove on Rodgers’ team as they are.

The Jags were one of the few sides who had any joy from Celtic last season in domestic competition, taking a 1-1 draw away from Parkhead. The last time they were at Firhill, of course, Celtic won 5-0 and they started off brightly here again, without ever hitting full stride.

Filling in for Griffiths, it was Forrest who had two early chances to opening the scoring, his first effort beaten away well by Tomas Cerny, his second driven wide of goal. The Jags’ goalkeeper then made a fine save from a thumping Bitton free-kick.

Celtic got their breakthrough when Jordan Turbull’s header was volleyed goalwards by Ntcham, the ball deflecting past Cerny off what Thistle claimed was the arm of Brown, not that Brown knew anything about it.

He turned his body away from Ntcham’s shot and the ball looked to come off him and find the net. Had it not, Cerny would probably have dealt with it comfortably enough.

Kris Doolan (left) watches as he passes up a first half chance

They felt a bit hard done by there, but Thistle had an excellent opportunity to wipe out Celtic lead early in the second half. Christie Elliott’s cross was met by the head of Doolan, who had lost Bitton.

From close-range, Doolan had to score. For such a dependable striker, you’d have expected him to. He didn’t. His header flew over.

Celtic couldn’t give themselves the cushion of a second goal against a resolute Thistle defence. Even when they looked like they were going to add a second, Callum Booth cleared off the line from Jozo Simunovic.

The Jags, for their part, had a huge penalty shout right at the end when Storey went down under a clumsy challenge from Bitton. Celtic, and their uncomfortable makeshift centre-half, looked like they got away with it.

Thistle were left frustrated and angered. For Rodgers, another win, but a problem to solve, too. Does he dare go into Wednesday night’s critical game with Astana with the Israeli at the heart of his defence?



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