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Callum McGregor relishing fight for the Scottish title

Partick Thistle 1-2 Celtic

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor is enjoying the race with Aberdeen for the Ladbrokes Premiership title.

The 22-year-old scored in the Hoops' 2-1 win over Partick Thistle on Saturday to stretch the Parkhead side's lead over the second-placed Dons to four points.

That deficit was again reduced to one point later in the day when the Granite City club beat Kilmarnock by the same scoreline at Pittodrie, albeit Derek McInnes' side have played a game more.

McGregor was happy to have returned to the side against Morton in the William Hill Scottish Cup last week after being left out for a month following a drink drive conviction, saying: "It was a big mistake and I will learn from it.

"I let a lot of people down including the manager and he showed great faith in putting me back in and I am trying to repay him with good performances."

When asked if he was enjoying the tussle with Aberdeen, he replied: "Definitely. We look for the challenge every day and they are chasing us and we are chasing them.

"It is a good title race this year. They have been great, winning a lot of games and playing well so we welcome that challenge.

"It can only be good for Scottish football and hopefully we are the team that come out on top but we know we have to perform well every week.

"We are always looking over our shoulder and making sure we are the best we can be when we go out on a Saturday and try to get a result."

Leigh Griffiths scored his 35th goal of the season moments before the interval with McGregor making it 2-0 with a fine run and finish in the 54th minute, making Sean Welsh's late penalty merely a consolation for the home side.

"It seemed as if we were coasting at 2-0 and they got the penalty," said McGregor.

"It was a big 10 minutes for us to show a bit of character and spirit and to see the game out and the boys rallied well."

Celtic boss Ronny Deila acknowledged Aberdeen's fine campaign so far but will focus only on his side as he prepares for the trip to Kilmarnock next week.

The Norwegian said: "Aberdeen have done very well this season but we have to concentrate on ourselves.

"There are nine games left and we just have to keep winning them. We have everything in our hands."

Alan Archibald saw his eighth-place Jags side lose for the third time in a week by one goal against a top three team, the Celtic defeat coming after a 2-1 loss to Aberdeen and a 1-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle.

He said: "Those three games won't define our season. The next four will.

"We have the bottom three and Ross County to come next so those games will define where we end up."

PARTICK: Cerny, Miller, Lindsay, Seaborne, Booth, Amoo, Osman, Welsh, Lawless (Edwards, 86 mins), Fraser (Elliott, 71 mins), Doolan (Pogba, 60 mins). Unused subs: Scully, German, Frans, Wilson

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew, Tierney, McGregor, Brown, Bitton, Commons (Kazim-Richards, 67 mins), Griffiths (Armstrong, 88 mins), Mackay-Steven (Ambrose, 90 mins). Unused subs: Fasan, Rogic, Roberts, Forrest

Man of the match: Gary Mackay-Steven

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Stephen Finnie

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