Wednesday 11th February, 2015 at 9:47am
With the Sky Sports cameras broadcasting the game live across the world, Thistle hoped to lay to rest their weekend cup exit against Inverness with a Glasgow derby victory. Manager, Alan Archibald, rang the changes with Scott Fox, Callum Booth, Conrad Balatoni, Lyle Taylor and Declan McDaid all making the starting eleven.
Thistle kicked the game off and immediately gave away possession which allowed Guidetti an early sight of goal. Luckily for the Jags his shot was blocked and deflected for a corner.
Thistle failed to clear the resulting corner and, after just 38 seconds, Gary Mackay-Steven fired low past Fox to put the champions 1-0 ahead. A nightmare start for the Jags. With the home side standing off the visitors and allowing them to play Fox produced two great saves within the first ten minutes as Thistle toiled. Celtic continued to pile the pressure on and the home defence struggled to clear a couple of corners, one of which in particular was left by everyone in the six yard box. Stevenson tried his luck from 25 yards but his effort failed to trouble Craig Gordon in goal. The other new signing for the visitors, Stuart Armstrong, was then not too far wide with a half volley from 20 yards.
The visitors increased their lead on the half hour mark. Thistle looked for offside when a ball found Guidetti wide just inside the box, his lay off was met by Armstrong who fired low past Fox to make it 2-0. McDaid then put in a tremendous covering tackle on Johansen to prevent the chance for a third a couple of minutes later.
Johansen again caused problems for the home defence and created a shooting chance for himself but fired just wide from 25 yards. Near half time Thistle did force a couple of chances with Elliott seeing a shot blocked and then Taylor heading over from an excellent O’Donnell cross. In truth the home side looked delighted to hear the half time whistle.
Thistle came out for the second half with renewed fire and a good move, started by Fox, and involving both Bannigan and Stevenson, saw the latter’s pass find McDaid who cut onto his left foot forcing Gordon to make a smart save. Elliott then gave the ball away in midfield allowing Johansen another sight of goal but he fired his shot wide of the target.
In the 62nd minute Thistle had vociferous appeals for a penalty waved away by referee, Crawford Allan. Having out muscled Scott Brown, Elliott’s cross found Stevenson whose lay off allowed Bannigan to get a shot away. It appeared for all the world that Izaguirre stopped the ball with his arm but nothing was given.
Although still 2-0 down, the Jags weren’t quite done yet. Stevenson fired a great cross to the near post and Taylor’s effort under pressure flashed just wide. Just as Thistle were forcing the game they were hit by a sucker punch. Initially Fox was fouled but the ref played advantage as the ball was cleared. Thistle lost the ball from the clearance but regained possession until Balatoni’s clearance to the middle of the park was headed forward by Bitton allowing Johansen a clear sight of goal – he made no mistake, firing past Fox to make it 3-0.
In the 69th minute Osman gave the ball away and the impressive Johansen chipped a pass to Guidetti who was unable to pile on the misery as he volleyed over from eight yards out.
McDaid made a great run with ten minutes to go and picked out Higginbotham with a cross field pass. Higginbotham cut inside but his shot took a deflection and Gordon gathered comfortably. Gary Fraser then saw his powerful, low 30 yard effort well saved by Gordon as Thistle looked for a goal to cheer up the Firhill faithful.
In injury time Stevenson smashed a powerful 25 yard shot which Gordon did well to save and the rebound just evaded McDaid.
Full time and it finished 3-0 to the visitors. Yet again, a poor start against quality opposition saw Thistle always chasing the game.
Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Frans, Balatoni, Booth, Bannigan (80), Osman, McDaid, Stevenson, Elliott (70), Taylor (72)
Subs: Gallacher, Craigen, Doolan (Taylor), Lawless, Higginbotham (Elliott), Richards-Everton, Fraser (Bannigan)