Ntcham off the mark as Celtic down Partick

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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