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  • Late Griffiths strike gives 10-man Celts derby win

    Late Griffiths strike gives 10-man Celts derby win

    By: Martin Dalziel on 02 Jan, 2016 17:02

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park
    Saturday, January 2, 2016

    CELTIC...1

    (Griffiths 90)

    PARTICK THISTLE...0

    A LAST-MINUTE strike from substitute Leigh Griffiths gave 10-man Celtic a winning start to 2016 as they triumphed over Partick Thistle 1-0 in the Glasgow Derby at Paradise.

    Both teams squandered chances in what was an open match, which became frantically end-to-end in the closing stages following Nir Bitton’s dismissal but just as it looked like the year would start with a frustrating stalemate, Griffiths popped up to bag the winner.

    The Hoops hit-man pounced in the area to convert Kris Commons’ deflected shot with his left foot and sent the Celts fans home happy with a winning start to the New Year by scoring the champions’ 200th goal under Ronny Deila.

    The Hoops made just two changes for the match following the 2-2 draw with Hearts in their last outing, with Commons replacing Stuart Armstrong and Efe Ambrose drafted in for the injured Dedryck Boyata.

    Thistle started the match with real intent, pressing the Celts high in their own half and showing no restraint in the tackle. The teams traded corners in the opening 15 minutes as the Jags forced the Bhoys back while the champions looked dangerous on the counter-attack but neither side could forge a decent chance from the set-pieces.

    The early pattern of play continued as the first-half wore on and Thistle almost got rewarded for their early endeavour when Steven Lawless flashed a shot at goal from outside the box but his effort went wide of Craig Gordon’s right hand post.

    A lung-bursting run forward from Bitton then helped the Celts win a corner but the Hoops couldn’t fashion a chance from the set-piece. They kept the ball in Thistle territory, however, and could have had a penalty when Nadir Ciftci dinked the ball over a robust challenge from Sean Walsh in the box and went down but the Jags were awarded a goal-kick from the incident.

    Celtic were finally in control of proceedings and had a great chance to take the lead when Tomas Cerny spilled McGregor’s cross to the feet of Mikael Lustig in the box but the defender crossed rather than shoot. Rogic eventually gathered the ball 12 yards out and lashed a volley at goal, which was blocked by Lindsay but claims for a penalty were again waved away.

    Neat play from Thistle on the edge of the Hoops penalty area saw Callum Booth fire an effort at goal but the shot arched away and the sides went in at half-time level.

    Celtic replaced Ciftci with Griffiths for the restart and both teams showed much more urgency as the second-half got underway. The Hoops hit-man got instantly involved, rocketing an effort at goal from outside the box but the Thistle defence blocked the shot in a crowded penalty area.

    The game spilled from end to end as the sides committed men forward for attack. The Hoops had Lustig to thank as he hooked the ball clear in his own box under pressure from the Thistle forwards before Jozo Simunovic saved the blushes of Ambrose when the Nigerian lost the ball outside his own box.

    Bitton was then booked as the game took on a scrappy feel, with neither side able to retain possession before Ronny Deila replaced Tom Rogic with James Forrest.

    The champions were then reduced to 10 men with just over 20 minutes left when Bitton was shown a second yellow for an aerial challenge with substitute Gary Miller on the half-way line. The Israeli midfielder looked to have pulled out of the challenge as he jumped to meet a high ball but the Thistle man hit the deck and the referee gave the Hoops star his marching orders.

    Gordon then kept the Celts in it with a brilliant one-handed save at his near post to deny Doolan’s shot on the slide as the Jags sought to capitalise on their man advantage.

    That save inspired the Bhoys to push forward and they had a great chance to take the lead when Johansen set up Griffiths on the edge of the box but his shot was straight at Tomas Cerny, who saved and then did well to gather Forrest’s curling effort.

    Kieran Tierney’s block on the line then thwarted Danny Seaborne as the Jags defender won a header from a late Thistle corner before the Bhoys then went straight up the park and scored what proved to be the winner.

    Commons took aim from distance and the Jags defence blocked the shot but Griffiths followed the arch of the ball and slotted home with one touch to break Thistle’s hearts and give the Celts the win they wanted to kick-off 2016.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic, Tierney; Johansen, Bitton; Commons (Mackay-Steven 90), Rogic (Forrest 64), McGregor; Ciftci (Griffiths 46)

    Not used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Allan, Cole

    PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Cerny; Seaborne, Bannigan (Wilson 90), Booth, Osman; Amoo, Welsh (Pogba 71), Lawless, Dumbuya (Miller 58), Lindsay; Doolan

    Not used: Scully, Edwards, Muirhead, Frans

    Website man of the match: Craig Gordon

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