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Ronnie Deila satisfied but Celtic lacking that ruthless edge

Celtic 2-0 Partick Thistle

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 09/04/2015

Spot on: Celtic’s Kris Commons drills home a penalty
Spot on: Celtic’s Kris Commons drills home a penalty

Celtic retained their seven-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with an easy 2-0 win over 10-man Partick at Parkhead.

The home side lay siege to the Thistle defence at the start of the match but had to rely on a Kris Commons penalty a minute before the break to give them the interval lead.

Thistle midfielder James Craigen had been shown a straight red card by referee Willie Collum for a 'last man' foul on Hoops midfielder Stuart Armstrong to concede the spot-kick, leaving the visitors a player down for the second half.

Midfielder Stefan Johansen -stand-in skipper in the absence of suspended Scott Brown - added a second in the 63rd minute as the encounter turned into a Hoops procession.

With second-placed Aberdeen beating Inverness 1-0, Ronny Deila's side maintained the gap over the Dons but also have a game in hand as the title race draws closer to conclusion.

Deila said: "I'm satisfied with the performance, the first 15 minutes were very good.

"We should have scored one or two goals. Partick showed they are a good team. It was a game with a lot of tempo.

"We got our chances and we scored our goals and that was good, though we should have been more effective with our chances."

On Johansen, Deila added: "He's an important player, a good player. He's working hard and has good communication with his team-mates.

"He did a good job tonight and deserved to be captain.

"He's had a good season but he's stepping up all the time. He's very fit and gets chances at the end of the game as he keeps going."

Celtic came close twice before two minutes had elapsed.

Parkhead defender Virgil van Dijk, up for a corner, flicked an Armstrong cross against the crossbar at the near post before a desperate blocking tackle by Maryhill defender Conrad Balatoni prevented an almost certain goal from Johansen's drive.

Commons' long-distance drive in the 28th minute just cleared the bar but a minute before the break he was more accurate from the spot, firing the penalty low into the corner.

Two minutes after the break Commons forced a decent save with a powerful 25-yard drive.

Thistle continued to defend stoutly and desperately in equal measures but were undone again when Johansen took a clever John Guidetti pass before rolling the ball into the net.

In the closing moments, Johansen again came close at the other end with a chip which was tipped over the bar, after the Norwegian had weaved his way through the Jags defence.

Celtic: Gordon, Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre, Biton, Johansen, Mackay-Steven, Commons, Armstrong, Guidetti.

Substitutions: Fisher (for Matthews 66), Forrest (for Commons 66), Griffiths (for Guidetti 75)

Goals: Commons 45 (pen); Johansen 63.

Partick: Fox, O'Donnell, Frans, Balatoni, Booth, Craigen, Bannigan, Osman, Lawless, Higginbotham, Stevenson.

Substitutions: Taylor (for Stevenson 55), McDaid (for Lawless 58), Fraser (for Bannigan 77)

Sent off: Craigen

Man of the match: Johansen

Referee: William Collum (Scotland).

Belfast Telegraph

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