Scottish League Cup - Second Round
Partick Thistle1Celtic3

Partick Thistle 1-3 Celtic: Holders strike late to avoid League Cup upset

Leigh Griffiths celebrates his first goal of the season
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths celebrated his first goal of the season

Celtic scored twice in the last 12 minutes to avoid a shock against Partick Thistle and end a testing week by earning a place in the League Cup quarter-finals.

After losing at Hearts last Saturday, and going out of the Champions League in Athens, Brendan Rodgers' recast side took a lead through Leigh Griffiths.

Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo levelled for the Championship hosts with 17 minutes left. But two goals in two minutes from Moussa Dembele and Tom Rogic ensured Celtic's safe passage.

It meant Rodgers avoided a third consecutive defeat and preserved his 100% record in domestic cup matches since taking charge of Celtic.

Celtic attack with intent

Rodgers made changes to the side that lost 2-1 against AEK Athens on Tuesday - perhaps with Thursday's Europa League play-off against Suduva in Lithuania in mind.

Scott Bain, Cristian Gamboa, Michael Johnston and the returning Emilio Izaguirre all made rare starts, but any notion Celtic were simply at Firhill to fulfil a fixture was put to bed early.

The League Cup holders looked eager to end a difficult week on a high, with a powerful low Rogic shot forcing goalkeeper Cammy Bell into a early save before Griffiths scored his first goal of the season.

Scott Sinclair turned his marker and pulled the ball back for the Scotland striker, who was given free rein by the Thistle defence to lash a shot into the centre of the goal.

It said much for 19-year-old Johnston that he was given a start, while the experienced Jonny Hayes sat on the bench, with Ryan Christie and Scott Allan both failing to make the squad at all.

And the winger was lively, skipping past Max Melbourne and snapping a low shot at Bell, then later seeing a deflected effort go past a post.

Celtic were a constant threat. Rogic found a gap between the two centre-backs but headed downwards, before Olivier Ntcham took aim from outside the box and struck the top of the crossbar.

Sinclair curled wide, then Dembele's first touch after replacing Griffiths was a left-foot volley which Bell had to push away.

Thistle's goal unsettled Celtic temporarily, but they were soon back in front when Gamboa's cross bounced in off the thigh of Dembele.

The third goal was near-enough identical. Gamboa raced on to James Forrest's through ball and crossed for Rogic to nudge in at the near post.

Mbuyi-Mutombo makes his mark

Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo
Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo scored on his home debut

Former Inverness Caledonian Thistle striker Mbuyi-Mutombo was making his first appearance at Firhill, having opened his account on his midweek debut at Stranraer in the Challenge Cup.

The Congolese was lively down the left, managing to fool Gamboa early on before testing Bain at the near post.

He had a selfishness to his game, electing to ignore two options to his left when Thistle had Celtic outnumbered on the counter, instead shooting wide.

But his finish for the equaliser was top drawer. Aidan Fitzpatrick danced through the middle and slipped through Mbuyi-Mutombo, who finished coolly into a bottom corner.

Thomas O'Ware may even have put Thistle ahead had he got to a cross moment later; a miss Alan Archibald's side were punished for as Celtic quickly got themselves back into the lead.

'Match of managerial wisdom' - analysis

BBC Scotland's Chick Young at Firhill

It was one of those "surely not" moments as Partick Thistle equalised and Celtic were suddenly navigating towards the rocks of four games without a win. But this was a match of managerial wisdom.

Archibald conjured Thistle back into the tie with an eyebrow-raising change in which he replaced top scorer Kris Doolan instead of the erratic Mbuyi-Mutumbo. But then, wouldn't you know it, the Congolese player scored the equaliser.

But as Thistle celebrated, Rodgers was hatching his counter plan. Enter the big guns. Callum McGregor and Forrest turned it. In short, six changes for Celtic were too many.

When all is said and done, their big-time players are too good for Premier League opposition never mind a team from a division below.

'We switched off & it killed us' - reaction

Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald: "We decided to sit off them, we didn't think we had the legs to deal with their pace. We got a lift with the goal, but we switched off twice in the last 15 minutes, which killed us. The young lads equipped themselves well."

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: "We haven't played well but we got the job done. It was two fantastic balls in by Cristian Gamboa and two really good finishes. Both full-backs were very good; Emilio Izaguirre was fantastic given he's been away so long."

Line-ups

Partick Thistle

  • 1Bell
  • 2Elliott
  • 4O'Ware
  • 6McGinty
  • 15Melbourne
  • 3Penrice
  • 7Spittal
  • 11StorerBooked at 48minsSubstituted forFitzpatrickat 71'minutes
  • 14GordonBooked at 31minsSubstituted forSlaterat 37'minutes
  • 18Mbuyi-Mutombo
  • 9DoolanSubstituted forErskineat 58'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Keown
  • 10Erskine
  • 17Slater
  • 20Wilson
  • 21Fitzpatrick
  • 23Sneddon

Celtic

  • 29Bain
  • 12Gamboa
  • 4Hendry
  • 35Ajer
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 8Brown
  • 21NtchamSubstituted forMcGregorat 79'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 73JohnstonSubstituted forForrestat 71'minutes
  • 18Rogic
  • 11Sinclair
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forDembeleat 65'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gordon
  • 5Simunovic
  • 10Dembele
  • 15Hayes
  • 23Lustig
  • 42McGregor
  • 49Forrest
Referee:
Craig Thomson
Attendance:
6,350

Match Stats

Home TeamPartick ThistleAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home39%
Away61%
Shots
Home6
Away17
Shots on Target
Home3
Away10
Corners
Home2
Away5
Fouls
Home13
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 3.

Foul by Sean McGinty (Partick Thistle).

Jack Hendry (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Booking

Callum McGregor (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Aidan Fitzpatrick (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Callum McGregor (Celtic).

Foul by Craig Slater (Partick Thistle).

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Blair Spittal (Partick Thistle).

Cristian Gamboa (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Goal!

Goal! Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 3. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Cristian Gamboa.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Callum McGregor replaces Olivier Ntcham.

Goal!

Goal! Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 2. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Cristian Gamboa.

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Jack Hendry.

Goal!

Goal! Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 1. Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Aidan Fitzpatrick.

Substitution

Substitution, Partick Thistle. Aidan Fitzpatrick replaces Jack Storer.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. James Forrest replaces Michael Johnston.

Christie Elliott (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Scott Sinclair (Celtic).

Foul by Max Melbourne (Partick Thistle).

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Chris Erskine (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Cristian Gamboa (Celtic).

Attempt saved. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner.

Jack Storer (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Tomas Rogic (Celtic).

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Moussa Dembele replaces Leigh Griffiths.

Foul by James Penrice (Partick Thistle).

Cristian Gamboa (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo (Partick Thistle).

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Scott Sinclair (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Substitution

Substitution, Partick Thistle. Chris Erskine replaces Kris Doolan.

Jack Storer (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Olivier Ntcham (Celtic).

Attempt missed. Michael Johnston (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is just a bit too high.

Jack Storer (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Olivier Ntcham (Celtic).

Attempt missed. Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

goal

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