GLASGOW: Stuart Armstrong bagged a brace as Celtic made it nine league wins in a row with a 4-1 victory at Partick Thistle on Friday to go 11 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership. Armstrong tapped in a cross from Leigh Griffiths in the 39th minute to put Celtic on course for a comfortable victory. Griffiths, making his first start in over a month, was the provider again as he played a short free-kick for Armstrong to arrow a shot past Tomas Cerny in the 48th minute before the Celtic striker got on the scoresheet himself less than a minute later with a curling strike.
Partick pulled one back on the hour as some sloppy marking allowed Liam Lindsay to head Sean Welsh’s floated free-kick into the box past Craig Gordon.
The home side had the ball in the net again four minutes later, but Welsh’s headed effort was ruled out for offside.
Callum McGregor finished the scoring for Celtic in the 82nd minute as he volleyed past Cerny for their 70th goal in all competitions this season.
The win stretched Celtic’s unbeaten start in the league to 14 games under new manager Brendan Rodgers as they pursue their sixth league title in a row.
“It was an outstanding result for us. I don’t think they’ve conceded more than two goals in a game this season before tonight,” Rodgers said.
“On the back of our game on Tuesday night and with only two days recovery to come here and play to that level was exceptional really.”
Partick boss Alan Archibald was frustrated at his players’ part in their own downfall.
“We struggled with the basics and offered very little in the final third and that was the disappointment,” he said.
“Good sides can cut you open but I felt we gave them goals.”
The Hoops made three changes to the side that drew with Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek as Gary Mackay-Steven was handed his first start of the season, while Griffiths made his first appearance in the starting line-up since November 5.
Griffiths, last season’s top-scorer, helped Celtic take the lead against their Glasgow rivals at Firhill as he turned provider for Armstrong.
The striker swivelled after collecting a pass from Scott Brown to peel away from Ziggy Gordon on the left of the box and played a dangerous ball across the face of goal that Armstrong tapped in from close range. The pair combined again four minutes after the break as Griffiths rolled a short free-kick to the unmarked Armstrong at the edge of the box and he took a touch before arrowing a shot beyond Cerny into the bottom corner.
Griffiths got the goal his play deserved less than a minute later when he spun his marker in the box after collecting a pass from Australian international Tom Rogic and curled his shot past the helpless ‘keeper.
Thistle pulled one back when Lindsay was allowed time and space to send a looping header past Gordon from Welsh’s free-kick. — AFP