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  • Sinclair strikes to give Celts Glasgow derby win at Paradise

    Sinclair strikes to give Celts Glasgow derby win at Paradise

    By: Martin Dalziel on 20 Dec, 2016 21:39

  • SPFL Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Tuesday December 20, 2016

    CELTIC…1
    (Sinclair 17)

    PARTICK THISTLE…0

    SCOTT Sinclair's first-half strike helped Celtic surge into a 14-point lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership as they edged past a stubborn Partick Thistle at Paradise.

    The Hoops winger notched his 11th goal of the season with a clinical first-time hit after Liam Henderson’s clever free-kick, and the goal proved enough to earn the champions their 16th league victory of the season, protecting their unbeaten run in Scottish football which now stands at 21 games.

    Sinclair’s finish came early in the first-half but it was Thistle who had started the game in enterprising fashion and led the action in terms of goalmouth chances in a bright opening 15 minutes.

    The visiting side’s ambitious 4-4-1-1 formation gave them width in the flanks, enough to test debutant Calvin Miller at left-back with the pace of David Amoo, and to create a number of good opportunities, the best of which fell to striker Ade Azeez, who pulled out a good save from Craig Gordon with a shot flashed across goal from right to left.

    Liam Lindsay also took aim from a Thistle corner, arching a shot over the bar, but the Jags’ early enthusiasm was dampened just a minute later when Callum Booth was booked for a foul on Cristian Gamboa on the right side, which led to a well-worked opening goal from the Hoops.

    Henderson, one of eight changes from the 2-1 win over Dundee at the weekend, skimmed the set-piece along the wet Celtic Park surface to the penalty spot to find Sinclair’s angled run from the back post, allowing the winger to curl a shot into the far corner past Tomas Cerny.

    It was the Englishman’s 11th goal of the season and his first since returning from a four week lay-off, giving the Bhoys a firm foothold in the match.

    And Celtic almost doubled their advantage on the half-hour makr with what would have been a memorable debut goal from Miller, but Cerny got down well to gather the 18-year-old’s right-footed shot after nice link-up play on the left from Patrick Roberts and Henderson.

    The visitors were still a threat, however, with Ryan Edwards at the heart of most of their good play and it was another strong run from the Australian that set up Azeez inside the area but Gordon closed the angle and saved the striker’s shot for a corner.

    The danger wasn’t over as Thistle again tested the Celtic goalkeeper from the set-piece but Lindsay was penalised for climbing on Mikael Lustig as he sent his header on target.

    Tensions began to rise with half-time on the horizon as the visitors persevered with their pressing play and attacking style, while Celtic couldn’t quite find the killer pass, but the Hoops held on to their one-goal advantage at the interval.

    Roberts did his best to increase that after the restart, embarking on a series of tormenting runs on the right flank but the winger’s wizardry couldn’t pry open the Jags defence. Sinclair also took aim from distance after being afforded a rare bit of space but his curling shot was off target.

    Brendan Rodgers made his first tactical switch of the game after the hour-mark with the score still stuck at 1-0, introducing Emilio Izaguirre for Miller, who received a standing ovation from the home support after a promising debut.

    Thistle were then guilty of not levelling the game seconds later when they sprung an attack down Celtic’s left after Izaguirre was beaten at the touchline, but Ziggy Gordon failed to get his shot on target with just the Celtic keeper to beat.

    The champions then passed up their own chance to find the net when Sinclair burst free of the Thistle backline after Moussa Dembele’s crunching tackle in midfield, but Cerny saved well before the Celtic winger was replaced by Stuart Armstrong with 20 minutes left.

    Dembele was then denied by Cerny before Gordon saved well from Sean Welsh’s close-range shot as a Thistle counter-attack broke up a sustained period of Celtic pressure.

    Leigh Griffiths was then given just under 15 minutes to make his mark from the bench as he replaced Dembele in Brendan Rodgers’ final throw of the dice and he got straight into the action, meeting a cross from Izaguirre with a header which arched over the bar.

    As time ebbed away so did the Jags’ energy to press Celtic in their own half, inviting the Bhoys further forward and bringing out two excellent stops from Cerny to thwart Roberts twice in quick succession.

    The champions’ appetite for a second goal continued until the final whistle but so did Thistle’s quest for an equaliser. Sinclair’s expert finish in the first-half proved to be enough for the Bhoys, however, who now go into the weekend’s game at Hamilton 14 points clear with one game still in-hand over their closest rivals.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Simunovic, Miller (Izaguirre 63); Brown; McGregor, Henderson; Roberts, Dembele (Griffiths 76), Sinclair (Armstrong 69).
    Not used: De Vries, Bitton, Mackay-Steven, Sviatchenko

    PARTICK THISTLE: (4-4-1-1) Cerny; Gordon, Devine, Lindsay, Booth; Amoo (Erskine 68), Osman, Welsh (Barton 76), Lawless; Edwards; Azeez (Doolan 81).
    Not used: Stuckmann, Elliot, Wilson, McDaid

    Website man of the match: Patrick Roberts 

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