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  • Van Dijk strike enough to seal derby win for Bhoys

    Van Dijk strike enough to seal derby win for Bhoys

    By: Martin Dalziel on 03 Dec, 2014 21:43

  • SPFL Pemiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    (van Dijk 59)


    CELTIC moved three points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership tonight (Wednesday) with a 1-0 win over Partick Thistle in the Glasgow derby at Celtic Park.

    Virgil van Dijk’s third goal in two games was the only difference between the sides after he smashed home a volley inside the Thistle box but the score-line failed to tell the full story of Celtic’s dominance.

    The Hoops pressed the Jags throughout the game and had the majority of possession but were forced to settle for the slender victory over a resolute Thistle team.

    Celtic tested the visitors early by playing balls over the back four but a few slack touches saw the early danger fizzle out.

    John Guidetti, who scored a hat-trick the last the time the sides met, tested Paul Gallacher in the Thistle goal early on when he did well to meet Stefan Johansen’s cross after good build-up play involving Scott Brown and Aleksandar Tonev, but the goalkeeper tipped the effort over.

    The Swedish striker then turned provider for Johansen but the Norwegian couldn’t direct a header on target.

    Tonev was next to test Gallacher with a snap-shot on the turn but the keeper did well to push it behind for a corner. The set-piece worked its away to Virgil van Dijk in space outside the box but his stinging shot was also saved.

    Ryan Stevenson and Stuart Bannigan combined well for the visitors on the left before Stephen O’Donnell found space to drill a low cross into the box, but Craig Gordon got down quick to stop the danger.

    Van Dijk went close again when he connected with a Johansen corner but the shot was deflected. The Norwegian’s second set-piece worked its way out to the edge of the box and eventually came to Guidetti but his shot was on the slide and went over Gallacher’s bar.

    Thistle came more into the game as the half wore on and put numbers forward to support their sporadic attacks. Abdul Osman rose well to meet Bannigan’s free-kick from the right but his powerful header went over Gordon’s bar and rippled the top netting.

    Johansen then collected a wonderful long ball from van Dijk but his right-footed shot was palmed away by Gallacher.

    Celtic were patient in their build-up play, closing Thistle down well in their own half and carved out another chance when Johansen robbed Osman on the edge of the visitors’ box.

    Osman hauled the midfielder down but the ball broke to Guidetti, who passed to Brown, but the captain played Stokes in rather than shooting and the Irishman’s effort curled wide.

    Ronny Deila switched Charlie Mulgrew for Nir Bitton as the second half got under way but it was Tonev who was on the prowl early for the Hoops.

    Van Dijk set the Bulgarian up with a great defence-splitting pass but the winger’s left-footed shot hit the side-netting. The Bhoys then won a set of corners as they continued to pin Thistle back but they couldn’t make use of the set-plays.

    Partick had been content to soak up the Hoops pressure in the first half but they forced the game more in the second period. Kallum Higginbotham kept them up the pitch, harrying the Celtic defence and they gathered ground down the Hoops’ left but couldn’t carve out a chance.

    Celtic then managed to make the breakthrough after Brown was fouled out on the right wing. Johansen swung in the free-kick and found van Dijk, whose header was deflected back to him and he smashed home from close-range to put the Bhoys 1-0 up.

    The lead could have been doubled straight from the restart but Tonev mishit his volley and Partick survived. The game lost its rhythm in the wake of the goal as play got bogged down in midfield.

    Ronny Deila made a double switch to freshen things up and switched Guidetti and Tonev for Stefan Scepovic and Kris Commons.

    Commons took on the central support role behind Scepovic and almost immediately made it 2-0 after Izaguirre beat O’Donnell down the left wing and played a ball across the box, but the attacker’s shot was saved by Gallacher.

    Scepovic then had two great chances to get on the score-sheet but he was forced to watch a header and then a left-footed shot saved then float over the crossbar.

    Partick were not out, however, and brought on Liam Lindsay to aid their counter-attacks with 10 minutes left.

    A few nervous passes in the final minutes gave the Hoops support cause for alarm but the Celtic backline stood strong, aided by Craig Gordon who made a superb late save and helped seal the win to put the Bhoys three points clear at the top of the Premiership.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Mulgrew (Bitton 46); Tonev (Commons 71), Johansen, Stokes; Guidetti (Scepovic 71). Not used: Zaluska, Jo Inge Berget, Kayal, McGregor.

    PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Gallacher; O’Donnell, Muirhead, Balatoni, Craigen, Bannigan (Lindsay 79), Stevenson (Doolan 60), Higginbotham (Lawless 70), Carroll, Osman, Fraser. Not used: Fox, Welsh, , McMillan, McDaid.

    Website Man of the Match: Virgil van Dijk.

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