Glasgow (AFP) – Substitute Leigh Griffiths helped inspire Celtic to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Partick Thistle in the Glasgow derby as the Scottish Premiership resumed following its winter break on Tuesday.
The Hoops dominated possession in the first half but found themselves trailing at the break after Connor Sammon fired in a 34th minute penalty to end a run of five consecutive clean sheets for Celtic.
However, the Scottish champions were level 10 minutes after the restart when Scott Sinclair slotted home his own spot-kick before Griffiths fired home a 70th minute winner in their first league game of 2018.
Victory extends Celtic’s lead to 11 points at the top of the Scottish Premiership over Aberdeen, who take on third-placed Rangers at Ibrox on Wednesday.
It was Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers’ 50th league win since joining the Hoops in May 2016.
“There were spells in the first half where we were good but we were our own downfall at times,” Rodgers said.
“We made changes in terms of the shape and dynamic of the team at half-time and I thought the boys were brilliant in the second half.”
Thistle manager Alan Archibald couldn’t hide his disappointment at the defeat.
“They put a lot into the game and they’ve taken nothing from it,” Archibald said.
“We didn’t quite get to grips with Leigh Griffiths when he came on but there were a lot of good performances so there were positives to take.”
The Hoops had named an unchanged side from the one that swept aside League Two Brechin in Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie and they almost made a similar quickfire start.
Kieran Tierney’s cross evaded everyone before arriving at the feet of Odsonne Edouard, but the striker’s first touch let him down and the danger was cleared.
The French forward was immediately presented with a chance to make amends when he intercepted Niall Keown’s poor clearance and raced in on goal but his tame shot was smothered by Tomas Cerny.
Edouard’s fellow Frenchman, Olivier Ntcham, came closer when he fired in a snapshot from 25 yards that whistled by the post.
It had all been one-way traffic in Celtic’s favour but when Kristoffer Ajer was dispossessed as he strode forward it allowed Blair Spittal to feed Miles Storey on the edge of the Celtic box, but the striker’s curling shot was tipped over by Craig Gordon.
The Celtic backline looked shaky and a mistake from Lustig handed Thistle a penalty.
The Swedish defender completely miskicked his attempted clearance under pressure from Storey and pulled the striker back as he ran past him toward goal with Sammon sending Gordon the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.
Celtic took off Lustig at the break with striker Griffiths coming on as the Hoops switched to three at the back.
Griffiths quickly used his pace began to get behind the Thistle defence but Cerny was alert to the danger and rushed out from his goal to make a superb block.
Celtic were in the ascendency and were handed a penalty moments later when Mustapha Dumbuya got caught on the wrong side of Sinclair in the box and he brought him down with a crude challenge.
The winger dusted himself down before sending Cerny the wrong way from the spot.
James Forrest, Griffiths and Kieran Tierney all tested Cerny before Celtic got the winner their pressure deserved.
Forrest drove at the retreating Thistle defence before feeding Scott Brown down the right wing. The Celtic captain swung the ball in for Griffiths who got a bit of luck to take the ball past Adam Barton before prodding an angled shot past the Thistle ‘keeper.
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