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  • Derby delight for debut Bhoys

    Derby delight for debut Bhoys

    By: Martin Dalziel on 11 Feb, 2015 21:49

  • SPFL Premiership

    Firhill Stadium, Glasgow

    Wednesday, February 11, 2015



    (Mackay-Steven 1, Armstrong 30, Johansen 66)

    A DEBUT goal apiece for Celtic new Bhoys, Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong, set the Scottish champions up for a convincing 3-0 victory over Partick Thistle at Firhill tonight (Wednesday).

    The duo both marked their first start under Ronny Deila with a strike each after Mackay-Steven opened the scoring inside the first minute after capitalising on a scramble in the box before Armstrong slotted home into an empty net following good work by John Guidetti.

    Stefan Johansen scored with a well-taken shot from distance on the hour mark to kill-off a second half revival from the hosts and send the Hoops three points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership.

    New Bhoys Armstrong and Mackay-Steven made their Celtic bow in place of the injured Kris Commons and Anthony Stokes, and the pair slotted in to the attacking front three alongside Stefan Johansen in a supporting role to main striker John Guidetti, who replaced the injured Leigh Griffiths up front.

    The Hoops roared forward from kick-off and immediately won a corner from the right and the set-piece led to the opening goal.

    Johansen’s low ball-in was only partially cleared by the Jags defence before it broke to Mackay-Steven inside the area. The winger took a touch to take it beyond Conrad Balatoni before poking the ball under the onrushing Scott Fox to put the Celts in the lead.

    It was an incredible start to the match for the debutant, who scored his first Celtic goal just 38 seconds into his first start.

    Fellow new Bhoy Armstrong almost mirrored his former Dundee United colleague with a strike of his own moments later but his effort was parried wide by Scott Fox.

    The game’s lightning start continued for the first 15 minutes as Thistle did their best to counter-act Celtic’s early dominance but it was the Scottish champions who looked more like scoring next as Johansen volleyed a shot at goal before Armstrong saw a curling effort from 18 yards drift wide.

    The midfielder then joined his fellow debutant on the score-sheet on the half-hour mark as Celtic went two in front after a great piece of play from Mackay-Steven.

    Virgil van Dijk played a searching long ball over the Jags defence for the winger to run on to and he showed blistering pace to beat Stephen O’Donnell to the ball before turning cleverly inside the box to set up Guidetti.

    The striker gathered the pass and was forced wide but he had the intelligence to cut back inside and find Armstrong unmarked, leaving the midfielder with an empty net to curl the ball into with his left foot.

    The champions continued to turn the screw as the half went on, using one-touch passing to pull Thistle across the pitch and picking their time to spring the attack.

    The Jags were completely outplayed for the majority of the opening 45 minutes but began to show signs of encouragement near half time when O’Donnell supplied a powerful curling cross from the right into the Celtic box but Taylor’s header sailed over the bar.

    Thistle came out the blocks for the restart much quicker than they had in the first half and carved out a chance with a shot from Christie Elliott but the winger’s effort was miles off.

    Taylor then forced Gordon into his first real save of the match with a low shot from the edge of the box but it was easily gathered by the Hoops keeper.

    The Jags played much tighter to Celtic but the Bhoys remained patient and did well to pick the hosts off in their own half. Johansen then got a shot in from distance but he failed to connect properly and his left-footed effort trundled wide.

    Alan Archibald’s team were then in the ascendency and displayed much more conviction in their passing and tackling but their second-half revival was struck down with one swift blow by the champions when Johansen finally found the back of the net.

    The Norwegian picked up the ball in midfield and drove forward, finding space in the centre as a run from Guidetti pulled the Jags defence apart.

    The midfielder then lifted his head and slammed a low shot from 20 yards beyond Fox and into the back of the net to put the Celts 3-0 up.

    That sent some dejected Thistle fans for the exit and their frustrations continued as they claimed for a hand ball off Jason Denayer in the box but had nothing given.

    Guidetti then had a chance to get his name on the score-sheet when Johansen picked the Swede out with an accurate chipped pass into the box but the striker smashed his side-footed shot over.

    Ronny Deila then replaced Johansen with Liam Henderson and Adam Matthews with Darnell Fisher.

    Thistle made a double switch too, replacing Christie Elliott and Lyle Taylor with Kris Doolan and Kallum Higginbotham as they chased a goal.

    Higginbotham fired a shot off with 10 minutes remaining after cutting inside from the left and went close again with an effort from a training ground set-piece but Gordon was equal to the shots and Celtic remained in control

    Mackay-Steven took the applause from the Celtic fans as he was subbed for Callum McGregor before full time.

    Ryan Stevenson found space to fire in one more shot for Thistle but it was comfortably saved by Gordon, securing yet another clean sheet for the Hoops and another win on the road.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews (Fisher 72), van Dijk, Denayer, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (McGregor 82), Johansen (Henderson 70), Armstrong; Guidetti

    Subs not used: Zaluska, Ambrose, Scepovic, Stokes.

    PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Fox; O’Donnell, Booth, Balatoni, Bannigan (Fraser 80), Stevenson, Frans, Elliott (Higginbotham 72), Osman, McDaid, Taylor (Doolan 72).

    Subs not used: Gallacher, Craigen, Lawless, Richards-Everton.

    Website man of the Match: Stefan Johansen

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