Ntcham off the mark as Celtic down Partick
Olivier Ntcham’s first goal for Celtic was enough to give the Scottish champions a 1-0 win over Partick Thistle at Firhill on Friday. French midfielder Ntcham, signed from Manchester City in the summer, grabbed the only goal of the match in the 26th minute as Brendan Rodgers’ side made it two wins out of two in the Scottish Premiership.
It was the perfect preparation for Celtic, who are now unbeaten in 51 games domestically, ahead of their Champions League playoff first leg against Kazakhstan side Astana at Parkhead next Wednesday.
“We had a lot of control of the ball and created chances but didn’t really have a finishing touch tonight,” Rodgers said. “We’ll play better, but hopefully tonight’s a game we’ll look back on towards the end of the season and see it as an important three points.”
Thistle, who were controversially denied a late penalty claim, slip to the bottom of the table on goal difference. Partick manager Alan Archibald had no doubts his side should have had a spot-kick. “It is a foul anywhere else on the pitch. It’s a big call in the last minute of a game against Celtic and you don’t tend to get them,” Archibald said.
“I was disappointed to lose a goal from a set play but credit to the guys as they hung in there.” As expected, Celtic made wholesale changes from the inexperienced side that thrashed Kilmarnock in the League Cup, with only Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney and Jonny Hayes retaining their places. The changes didn’t seem to disrupt the Glasgow club, who dominated from the start and missed a couple of early chances. Despite deputising in the centre of defence because of injuries, Israeli international Nir Bitton wasn’t slow in getting forward and the midfielder forced Tomas Cerny to push his curling free-kick round the post after he lifted it over the wall.—AFP