Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic0LivingstonLivingston0

Celtic 0-0 Livingston: Makeshift Celtic held at home

By Martin WattBBC Scotland

Celtic allowed Livingston to "impose their style on us", admitted coach Gavin Strachan after his makeshift side were held to a Premiership draw.

The hosts struggled in their second game without 13 players and manager Neil Lennon self-isolating, and remain winless after three outings in 2021.

Josh Mullin hit the crossbar for Livingston as their eight-game winning streak ended.

"They made it really difficult for us," said Strachan.

"Obviously the situation isn't ideal but we still had more than enough that we could display a better performance than we did."

Celtic are 20 points behind leaders Rangers, while Livingston stay fifth after their first dropped points in seven league games.

Celtic retain two games in hand on the Ibrox side, but are now three without victory and this latest blow to their already paper-thin hopes of a 10th successive title was no real surprise.

With Christopher Jullien's positive Covid-19 test following the club's Dubai training trip having decimated Celtic's squad as close contacts self-isolate, the absence of a recognised striker prompted Strachan to deploy midfielder Tom Rogic up front. That lack of cohesion was evident throughout the side.

Nir Bitton's return from suspension to partner Shane Duffy at least gave Celtic an experienced international centre-back pairing. But the defence - so often Celtic's Achilles heel this season - was creaking from the start as Livingston swarmed all over them with a high-intensity, pressing gameplan.

Duffy in particular was suspect, sending passes astray and needlessly inviting pressure.

For all Livingston's impressive play, though, their wayward finishing was the key factor in the end to David Martindale's winning start as head coach.

Defender Jon Guthrie wasn't far away from finding the top corner with a volley from the edge of the area, and Scott Robinson flashed a header wide moments later in Livingston's strong opening.

But it was Celtic who came closest to a first-half breakthrough as Callum McGregor fired inches over the bar and Jeremie Frimpong wriggled free inside the box to force a solid near-post save from Max Stryjek.

Celtic's defensive flaws were again evident after the break as they carelessly gave away possession and Robinson pounced to curl narrowly wide.

Livingston defender Efe Ambrose should have marked his return to his former club with the opener, only to screw a free header horribly off target, and Scott Pittman couldn't convert at the back post.

Livingston looked the likelier in a pulsating finale, yet either side could have nicked it. Mullin thought he'd scored with a close-range strike that Conor Hazard somehow tipped on to the bar.

And young Celtic substitute Armstrong Okoflex was then inches away from connecting with Anthony Ralston's inviting ball across the six-yard box as the game finished goalless.

Man of the match - Josh Mullin

The Livingston midfielder was full of industry, energy and unlucky not to score
The Livingston midfielder was full of industry, energy, and unlucky not to score

What did we learn?

None of the Celtic fringe players given a chance to impress amid the club's Covid troubles this week have made a compelling case.

This was a largely insipid performance from a team containing more than enough individual talent to secure a much-needed win.

Livingston, meanwhile, will be kicking themselves at failing to achieve the milestone of a first-ever away victory over Celtic. After 13 previous fruitless visits, this was their chance to make history.

They nullified the hosts and had a verve about their play that Celtic couldn't match, but a lack of composure in front of goal was Livingston's downfall.

What did they say?

Strachan 'expects more' from Celtic

Celtic coach Gavin Strachan: "Tough afternoon. We expect a bit more from the players and were disappointed with the first-half performance. We had a bit more control in the second half, but wanted more shots at goal.

"With events that have gone on, the players' confidence has probably been affected."

Livingston head coach David Martindale: "I thought we could have got more out of the game but Celtic had chances as well.

"Some of the players are disappointed, so it shows how far we have come as a club."

'I think Lennon's been texting big Efe...'

What's next?

A rematch. Celtic will have their players, and manager Lennon, back from quarantine when the sides meet again in the Premiership, this time at Livingston's Tony Macaroni Stadium, on Wednesday (20:15).

Celtic then have a free weekend while Livingston face St Mirren in the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden on Sunday, January 24 (16:00).

Player of the match

SibbaldCraig Sibbald

with an average of 8.48

Celtic

  1. Squad number65Player nameHazard
    Average rating

    3.43

  2. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull
    Average rating

    3.34

  3. Squad number12Player nameSoro
    Average rating

    3.12

  4. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor
    Average rating

    3.12

  5. Squad number30Player nameFrimpong
    Average rating

    3.03

  6. Squad number93Player nameLaxalt
    Average rating

    2.94

  7. Squad number4Player nameDuffy
    Average rating

    2.90

  8. Squad number6Player nameBitton
    Average rating

    2.88

  9. Squad number52Player nameHenderson
    Average rating

    2.87

  10. Squad number18Player nameRogic
    Average rating

    2.86

  11. Squad number19Player nameJohnston
    Average rating

    2.83

  12. Squad number56Player nameRalston
    Average rating

    2.83

  13. Squad number48Player nameOkoflex
    Average rating

    2.75

Livingston

  1. Squad number10Player nameSibbald
    Average rating

    8.48

  2. Squad number14Player nameMullin
    Average rating

    8.48

  3. Squad number33Player nameLawson
    Average rating

    8.44

  4. Squad number38Player nameHamilton
    Average rating

    8.44

  5. Squad number3Player nameBrown
    Average rating

    8.43

  6. Squad number17Player nameRobinson
    Average rating

    8.42

  7. Squad number6Player nameBartley
    Average rating

    8.41

  8. Squad number27Player nameGuthrie
    Average rating

    8.40

  9. Squad number11Player nameForrest
    Average rating

    8.39

  10. Squad number8Player namePittman
    Average rating

    8.39

  11. Squad number25Player nameEfe Ambrose
    Average rating

    8.38

  12. Squad number2Player nameDevlin
    Average rating

    8.36

  13. Squad number32Player nameStryjek
    Average rating

    8.12

Line-ups

Celtic

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 65Hazard
  • 56RalstonBooked at 29mins
  • 6Bitton
  • 4Duffy
  • 93Laxalt
  • 42McGregor
  • 12Soro
  • 30Frimpong
  • 14Turnbull
  • 19JohnstonSubstituted forHendersonat 66'minutes
  • 18RogicSubstituted forOkoflexat 80'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Taylor
  • 28Connell
  • 41Robertson
  • 45Doohan
  • 48Okoflex
  • 52Henderson
  • 53Harper
  • 57Welsh
  • 77Dembele

Livingston

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 32Stryjek
  • 2Devlin
  • 25Ambrose
  • 27Guthrie
  • 3Brown
  • 33LawsonBooked at 84mins
  • 6BartleyBooked at 67mins
  • 14Mullin
  • 8Pittman
  • 10SibbaldSubstituted forForrestat 62'minutes
  • 17RobinsonSubstituted forHamiltonat 75'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1McCrorie
  • 5Fitzwater
  • 9Emmanuel-Thomas
  • 11Forrest
  • 12Serrano
  • 21McMillan
  • 22Tiffoney
  • 29Taylor-Sinclair
  • 38Hamilton
Referee:
John Beaton

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamLivingston
Possession
Home61%
Away39%
Shots
Home7
Away15
Shots on Target
Home1
Away1
Corners
Home2
Away9
Fouls
Home12
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Celtic 0, Livingston 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Celtic 0, Livingston 0.

  3. Post update

    Shane Duffy (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Jack Hamilton (Livingston).

  5. Post update

    Diego Laxalt (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Jack Hamilton (Livingston).

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Steve Lawson (Livingston) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a set piece situation.

  8. Post update

    Foul by David Turnbull (Celtic).

  9. Post update

    Alan Forrest (Livingston) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Nicky Devlin (Livingston) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Steve Lawson.

  11. Booking

    Steve Lawson (Livingston) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  12. Post update

    Ismaila Soro (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Steve Lawson (Livingston).

  14. Post update

    Foul by Ewan Henderson (Celtic).

  15. Post update

    Nicky Devlin (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Livingston. Conceded by Conor Hazard.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Josh Mullin (Livingston) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Scott Pittman with a cross.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. Nicky Devlin (Livingston) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Armstrong Okoflex replaces Tomas Rogic.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Efe Ambrose (Livingston) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Josh Mullin with a cross following a set piece situation.

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