Battling Thistle make Celtic work for victory

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Partick Thistle’s hopes of securing their first home victory were dashed as league leaders Celtic continued their unbeaten run with a 2-1 win at Firhill.

The home side’s resistance was broken in the 33rd minute when Emilio Izaguirre curled in a corner, with Georgios Samaras left all alone to score from six yards.

Moments later, Scott Fox turned a Teemu Pukki 18-yard shot around the post and then repeated the feat immediately after Kallum Higginbotham had missed the target at the other end.

Thistle burst out of the blocks after the interval and Stuart Bannigan was denied by Fraser Forster with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Then Scott Brown attempted to latch on to another excellent Izaguirre cross inside the Thistle box and the hosts were fortunate that an offside flag meant Conrad Balatoni went unpunished for a tug on the Scotland captain.

A defensive blunder on the hour mark by Efe Ambrose was pounced on by Christie Elliott but the Thistle substitute’s shot was charged down and Higginbotham made a mess of the loose ball.

But Thistle continued to press and were rewarded in the 67th minute drawing level after good work from Kris Doolan.

The striker hit the Celtic crossbar with a hooked effort as the ball broke his way from a corner but he was given a second chance as Higginbotham worked the ball back into a busy penalty box.

Doolan took a touch and calmly steered the ball past Forster from six yards out.

Izaguirre, who suffered a head knock in a brave defensive block, threatened to re-establish Celtic’s lead with fine a solo run into the Thistle penalty area, but sent his shot over the crossbar, then Higginbotham was again kept out by Forster.

With 75 minutes gone, Balde, on for Beram Kayal, demonstrated great pace and composure to break free from the halfway line following some slack Thistle passing to fire past Fox and restore the visitors’ lead.

Having used all of their substitutes, Celtic were reduced to 10 men in the closing minutes when Samaras suffered a gash on his knee.

Thistle continued to press but Neil Lennon’s depleted side did a good job of protecting Forster to seal maximum points.

Partick Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Taylor-Sinclair, Welsh, Muirhead, Balatoni, Higginbotham, Osbourne, Doolan, Bannigan (Elliott 59), Craigen (Forbes 79), Subs not used: Lawless, Gallacher

Piccolo, Baird, Kerr.

Attendance: 7,978