Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic1Partick ThistlePartick Thistle0

Celtic 1-0 Partick Thistle

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland at Celtic Park
  • Celtic move three points clear at the top
  • Virgil van Dijk nets his sixth goal of the season
  • Eighth consecutive domestic win for Celtic

Virgil van Dijk's strike was enough to see off stubborn Partick Thistle and send Celtic three points clear at the top of the Premiership.

The hosts were dominant in possession and were rewarded in the second half with a smart volley from the defender.

Thistle refused to wilt though, and took heart as Celtic failed to extend their advantage.

And it took a smart late save by Craig Gordon to secure victory as he kept out Kris Doolan's hooked shot.

Celtic were not immediately commanding.

There was plenty of intent in the way they approached the game, and often their four attacking players - Aleksander Tonev, Stefan Johansen, John Guidetti and Anthony Stokes - would stand on the shoulder of Partick Thistle's back four. However, their build-up play lacked penetration.

The visitors were prepared to be aggressive when the opportunity arose, pushing their defensive line high up the field and sending their full-backs - Stephen O'Donnell in particular on the right - on attacking forays.

The result was that Celtic were squeezed, and it needed precise, deft passes at close range to try to break through the Thistle defence.

Directness was occasionally rewarded, and when Johansen slung in a cross, Guidetti's header was tipped over by Thistle goalkeeper Paul Gallacher.

Shots by Tonev and Van Dijk were also pushed wide, but there was a casualness to the home side's play, a lack of urgency and tempo, that hampered their efforts.

Thistle sought to be resolute but also incisive on the counter-attack. Their adventurousness was sporadic, but Kallum Higginbotham delivered a sweetly-struck cross-field pass to free O'Donnell on the right, and his cross had to be smothered by Gordon before James Craigen could convert.

Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk scored the only goal
It was a third goal in two games for in-form Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk

Abdul Osman came even closer, with a header onto the roof of the net from Stuart Bannigan's free-kick.

Thistle could clutch onto these moments as flashes of optimism. In truth, though, Celtic could be still be self-assured even if their attacking play lacked an edge. Guidetti was frustrated as he sliced wide from Johansen's pass, while Adam Matthews volleyed wide from just inside the penalty area.

Even when Thistle suffered a momentary lapse of judgement, when Gallacher delivered the ball to Osman and the midfielder was instantly robbed near his own area, the best that Celtic could muster was a half chance that Stokes pulled wide.

Celtic tried to be less intricate after the break, and twice Van Dijk delivered excellent through balls to Tonev, but on both occasions the ball ended up striking the side-netting.

Ultimately, the Celtic centre-back took matters into his own hand, and when the ball fell to him from Johansen's free-kick, he converted confidently from close range.

Thistle did not lose their nerve, and Conrad Balatoni embarked on his own counter-attack after intercepting the ball inside his own half. After moving the ball out wide, the centre-back ended up on the end of the cross and headed wide.

For all Thistle's determination to remain relevant in the game, Celtic were always the more threatening.

That ought to have delivered a second goal, but when Stokes cut the ball back to Stefan Scepovic inside the six-yard box, the substitute scooped his shot over.

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 26Gordon
  • 2Matthews
  • 4Ambrose
  • 5van Dijk
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 8Brown
  • 21MulgrewSubstituted forBittonat 45'minutes
  • 27TonevSubstituted forCommonsat 72'minutes
  • 25Johansen
  • 10Stokes
  • 9GuidettiSubstituted forScepovicat 72'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Bitton
  • 12Scepovic
  • 15Commons
  • 16Berget
  • 24Zaluska
  • 33Kayal
  • 42McGregor

Partick Thistle

  • 12Gallacher
  • 2O'Donnell
  • 5Muirhead
  • 6Balatoni
  • 17Carroll
  • 7Craigen
  • 8BanniganSubstituted forMcDaidat 80'minutes
  • 22Fraser
  • 18Osman
  • 10StevensonSubstituted forDoolanat 61'minutes
  • 15HigginbothamSubstituted forLawlessat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Fox
  • 4Welsh
  • 9Doolan
  • 11Lawless
  • 16McMillan
  • 26Lindsay
  • 28McDaid
Referee:
Brian Colvin
Attendance:
40,633

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamPartick Thistle
Possession
Home53%
Away47%
Shots
Home21
Away6
Shots on Target
Home8
Away3
Corners
Home9
Away2
Fouls
Home4
Away7

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Celtic 1, Partick Thistle 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Celtic 1, Partick Thistle 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Stefan Johansen (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  4. Post update

    Stefan Johansen (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Declan McDaid (Partick Thistle).

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

  7. Post update

    Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Stephen O'Donnell (Partick Thistle).

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Partick Thistle. Declan McDaid replaces Stuart Bannigan.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Stefan Scepovic (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  12. Post update

    Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle).

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Kris Commons replaces Aleksandar Tonev.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Stefan Scepovic replaces John Guidetti.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Partick Thistle. Steven Lawless replaces Kallum Higginbotham.

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Gary Fraser (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Gary Fraser (Partick Thistle) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).

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