Match ends, Celtic 1, Partick Thistle 0.
- Celtic move three points clear at the top
- Virgil van Dijk nets his sixth goal of the season
- Eighth consecutive domestic win for Celtic
Virgil van Dijk's strike was enough to see off stubborn Partick Thistle and send Celtic three points clear at the top of the Premiership.
The hosts were dominant in possession and were rewarded in the second half with a smart volley from the defender.
Thistle refused to wilt though, and took heart as Celtic failed to extend their advantage.
And it took a smart late save by Craig Gordon to secure victory as he kept out Kris Doolan's hooked shot.
Celtic were not immediately commanding.
There was plenty of intent in the way they approached the game, and often their four attacking players - Aleksander Tonev, Stefan Johansen, John Guidetti and Anthony Stokes - would stand on the shoulder of Partick Thistle's back four. However, their build-up play lacked penetration.
The visitors were prepared to be aggressive when the opportunity arose, pushing their defensive line high up the field and sending their full-backs - Stephen O'Donnell in particular on the right - on attacking forays.
The result was that Celtic were squeezed, and it needed precise, deft passes at close range to try to break through the Thistle defence.
Directness was occasionally rewarded, and when Johansen slung in a cross, Guidetti's header was tipped over by Thistle goalkeeper Paul Gallacher.
Shots by Tonev and Van Dijk were also pushed wide, but there was a casualness to the home side's play, a lack of urgency and tempo, that hampered their efforts.
Thistle sought to be resolute but also incisive on the counter-attack. Their adventurousness was sporadic, but Kallum Higginbotham delivered a sweetly-struck cross-field pass to free O'Donnell on the right, and his cross had to be smothered by Gordon before James Craigen could convert.
Abdul Osman came even closer, with a header onto the roof of the net from Stuart Bannigan's free-kick.
Thistle could clutch onto these moments as flashes of optimism. In truth, though, Celtic could be still be self-assured even if their attacking play lacked an edge. Guidetti was frustrated as he sliced wide from Johansen's pass, while Adam Matthews volleyed wide from just inside the penalty area.
Even when Thistle suffered a momentary lapse of judgement, when Gallacher delivered the ball to Osman and the midfielder was instantly robbed near his own area, the best that Celtic could muster was a half chance that Stokes pulled wide.
Celtic tried to be less intricate after the break, and twice Van Dijk delivered excellent through balls to Tonev, but on both occasions the ball ended up striking the side-netting.
Ultimately, the Celtic centre-back took matters into his own hand, and when the ball fell to him from Johansen's free-kick, he converted confidently from close range.
Thistle did not lose their nerve, and Conrad Balatoni embarked on his own counter-attack after intercepting the ball inside his own half. After moving the ball out wide, the centre-back ended up on the end of the cross and headed wide.
For all Thistle's determination to remain relevant in the game, Celtic were always the more threatening.
That ought to have delivered a second goal, but when Stokes cut the ball back to Stefan Scepovic inside the six-yard box, the substitute scooped his shot over.
- 5van Dijk
- 21MulgrewSubstituted forBittonat 45'minutes
- 27TonevSubstituted forCommonsat 72'minutes
- 9GuidettiSubstituted forScepovicat 72'minutes
- 8BanniganSubstituted forMcDaidat 80'minutes
- 10StevensonSubstituted forDoolanat 61'minutes
- 15HigginbothamSubstituted forLawlessat 71'minutes
- Brian Colvin
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Celtic 1, Partick Thistle 0.
Attempt blocked. Stefan Johansen (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Stefan Johansen (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Declan McDaid (Partick Thistle).
Attempt saved. Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Stephen O'Donnell (Partick Thistle).
Substitution, Partick Thistle. Declan McDaid replaces Stuart Bannigan.
Attempt missed. Stefan Scepovic (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.
Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle).
Substitution, Celtic. Kris Commons replaces Aleksandar Tonev.
Substitution, Celtic. Stefan Scepovic replaces John Guidetti.
Substitution, Partick Thistle. Steven Lawless replaces Kallum Higginbotham.
Attempt missed. Gary Fraser (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Attempt saved. Gary Fraser (Partick Thistle) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).