Scottish Premiership
Partick ThistlePartick Thistle1CelticCeltic5
By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland Sport

Celtic secured their third Scottish title in a row with seven games to spare after a five-goal demolition of Partick Thistle at Firhill.

It is the earliest the Scottish top flight has been secured since Rangers won on 16 March in season 1928-29.

After Anthony Stokes headed in early, it was a party waiting to be unleashed.

Liam Henderson and Stefan Johansen added to that before Christie Elliot's reply and Stokes and Kris Commons ensured the champagne flowed.

The victory establishes an unassailable 26-point lead over second-placed Aberdeen as Celtic are crowned champions for the 45th time.

With the Dons having been held to a draw away to Ross County 24 hours earlier, the scene had been set for Neil Lennon's side to win the title in a Glasgow derby.

Liam Henderson and Stefan Johansen celebrate
Liam Henderson and Stefan Johansen both scored in the second half

Many Celtic fans might have taken greater pleasure in securing it at the home of a certain other club in Scotland's biggest city, but the absence of Rangers from the top flight has made their task easier for the second season running.

Thistle had gone into the game desperate for points at the other end of the table, where they sit two points ahead of second-bottom St Mirren in a five-team fight to avoid a relegation play-off.

The Maryhill outfit were seeking a third straight home win after a season-long wait for a home victory since their return to the top flight, and manager Alan Archibald had voiced his determination to avoid hosting a championship party.

However, Emilio Izaguirre sent over a cross from the left and the unmarked Stokes stepped out of the shadows at the back post to head past goalkeeper Paul Gallacher from eight yards.

Celtic had scored 11 goals in their previous three games and it looked like they were about to unleash another goals-fest as the ball pinged about a penalty box unconvincingly guarded by a nervous home defence.

Whether it was down to Celtic's complacency or premature feelings of celebration, Thistle did well to weather that early pressure and work their way gradually into the match.

They took control for a period in the first half and Johansen and Izaguirre were fortunate not to earn yellow cards as the champions-elect became increasingly edgy.

However, since losing to Barcelona in the Champions League, Celtic have played 17 domestic games and only lost goals in two of them - both in defeats by in-form Aberdeen. Thistle rarely looked like they had the ability to unlock the visitors.

Henderson had been left out of Celtic's starting line-up as Efe Ambrose returned to the defence, but the winger's introduction at half-time for full-back Adam Matthews breathed new life into Lennon's side.

Caught out early again, the Thistle back-line was made to look foolish as Izaguirre's cross was dummied first by Commons and then Stokes, allowing the unmarked 17-year-old to fire low into the far corner for his first Celtic goal.

It was two goals within four minutes as Johansen played a one-two with Leigh Griffiths before powering into the penalty box and firing his second goal in as many games.

Only then did Thistle become an attacking threat, Lyle Taylor just failing to make contact with an Aaron Taylor-Sinclair cross to the front post; Gary Fraser's powerful long-range drive being turned wide by Fraser Forster and then Taylor heading straight at the goalkeeper.

Commons was denied by a Gallacher save, while Stephen O'Donnell forced Forster into more action at the other end.

Thistle had cries for a penalty waved away by referee Steven McLean when a shot from Prince Buaben shot struck the arm of Charlie Mulgrew, before Elliot fired past Forster.

By then, however, Celtic were already well on their way to ensuring they would become the first champions since the Scottish Premier League became the Scottish Premiership after its merger with the Scottish Football League.

A superb Stokes volley and Commons finish on the break in the dying seconds finished the job, keeping the title at Celtic Park.

Line-ups

Partick Thistle

  • 12Gallacher
  • 2O'Donnell
  • 3Taylor-Sinclair
  • 22Fraser
  • 13Rojo de la Vega Piccolo
  • 15Mair
  • 28ErskineSubstituted forElliottat 63'minutes
  • 10Buaben
  • 21TaylorSubstituted forDoolanat 78'minutes
  • 23HigginbothamSubstituted forLawlessat 70'minutes
  • 8Bannigan

Substitutes

  • 1Fox
  • 7Craigen
  • 9Doolan
  • 11Lawless
  • 14Elliott
  • 16McMillan
  • 17Moncur

Celtic

  • 1Forster
  • 2MatthewsSubstituted forHendersonat 45'minutes
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 8Brown
  • 4Ambrose
  • 5van Dijk
  • 15Commons
  • 21MulgrewBooked at 28minsSubstituted forKayalat 71'minutes
  • 28GriffithsSubstituted forSamarasat 77'minutes
  • 10Stokes
  • 25JohansenBooked at 54mins

Substitutes

  • 9Samaras
  • 17Balde
  • 20Pukki
  • 24Zaluska
  • 33Kayal
  • 34O'Connell
  • 53Henderson
Referee:
Steven McLean
Attendance:
7,549

Match Stats

Home TeamPartick ThistleAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home41%
Away59%
Shots
Home11
Away14
Shots on Target
Home4
Away8
Corners
Home6
Away2
Fouls
Home6
Away6

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 5.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 5.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 5. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Georgios Samaras.

  4. Goal!

    Goal! Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 4. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Georgios Samaras.

  5. Post update

    Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Gabriel Piccolo (Partick Thistle).

  7. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Prince Buaben.

  8. Goal!

    Goal! Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 3. Christie Elliott (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Liam Henderson (Celtic).

  11. Post update

    Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Partick Thistle. Kris Doolan replaces Lyle Taylor.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Georgios Samaras replaces Leigh Griffiths.

  14. Post update

    Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Gary Fraser (Partick Thistle).

  16. Post update

    Beram Kayal (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle).

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  19. Post update

    Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Gabriel Piccolo (Partick Thistle).