Partick Thistle 1-5 Celtic

Celtic secured their third Scottish title in a row with seven games to spare after a five-goal demolition of Partick Thistle at Firhill.

It is the earliest the Scottish top flight has been secured since Rangers won on 16 March in season 1928-29.

After Anthony Stokes headed in early, it was a party waiting to be unleashed.

Liam Henderson and Stefan Johansen added to that before Christie Elliot's reply and Stokes and Kris Commons ensured the champagne flowed.

The victory establishes an unassailable 26-point lead over second-placed Aberdeen as Celtic are crowned champions for the 45th time.

With the Dons having been held to a draw away to Ross County 24 hours earlier, the scene had been set for Neil Lennon's side to win the title in a Glasgow derby.

Liam Henderson and Stefan Johansen celebrate
Liam Henderson and Stefan Johansen both scored in the second half

Many Celtic fans might have taken greater pleasure in securing it at the home of a certain other club in Scotland's biggest city, but the absence of Rangers from the top flight has made their task easier for the second season running.

Thistle had gone into the game desperate for points at the other end of the table, where they sit two points ahead of second-bottom St Mirren in a five-team fight to avoid a relegation play-off.

The Maryhill outfit were seeking a third straight home win after a season-long wait for a home victory since their return to the top flight, and manager Alan Archibald had voiced his determination to avoid hosting a championship party.

However, Emilio Izaguirre sent over a cross from the left and the unmarked Stokes stepped out of the shadows at the back post to head past goalkeeper Paul Gallacher from eight yards.

Celtic had scored 11 goals in their previous three games and it looked like they were about to unleash another goals-fest as the ball pinged about a penalty box unconvincingly guarded by a nervous home defence.

Whether it was down to Celtic's complacency or premature feelings of celebration, Thistle did well to weather that early pressure and work their way gradually into the match.

They took control for a period in the first half and Johansen and Izaguirre were fortunate not to earn yellow cards as the champions-elect became increasingly edgy.

However, since losing to Barcelona in the Champions League, Celtic have played 17 domestic games and only lost goals in two of them - both in defeats by in-form Aberdeen. Thistle rarely looked like they had the ability to unlock the visitors.

Henderson had been left out of Celtic's starting line-up as Efe Ambrose returned to the defence, but the winger's introduction at half-time for full-back Adam Matthews breathed new life into Lennon's side.

Caught out early again, the Thistle back-line was made to look foolish as Izaguirre's cross was dummied first by Commons and then Stokes, allowing the unmarked 17-year-old to fire low into the far corner for his first Celtic goal.

It was two goals within four minutes as Johansen played a one-two with Leigh Griffiths before powering into the penalty box and firing his second goal in as many games.

Only then did Thistle become an attacking threat, Lyle Taylor just failing to make contact with an Aaron Taylor-Sinclair cross to the front post; Gary Fraser's powerful long-range drive being turned wide by Fraser Forster and then Taylor heading straight at the goalkeeper.

Commons was denied by a Gallacher save, while Stephen O'Donnell forced Forster into more action at the other end.

Thistle had cries for a penalty waved away by referee Steven McLean when a shot from Prince Buaben shot struck the arm of Charlie Mulgrew, before Elliot fired past Forster.

By then, however, Celtic were already well on their way to ensuring they would become the first champions since the Scottish Premier League became the Scottish Premiership after its merger with the Scottish Football League.

A superb Stokes volley and Commons finish on the break in the dying seconds finished the job, keeping the title at Celtic Park.

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