THERE was a standing ovation – quite literally – for the 69ers as Celtic got back to winnings ways after the Tynecastle hiccup and moved five points ahead at the Premiership this evening.

In the 69th minute, the fans at Parkhead rose to their feet in a stirring moment to applaud the feat of the Hoops for their remarkable
and historic 69 domestic games without defeat – a sequence which has brought four trophies to the club in Brendan Rodgers’ 19-month reign.

The cheers that bounced around the corners of the ground were well deserved as the champions netted twice to overcome a gritty Partick Thistle outift.

Yet at the start, it took something special to light up Celtic Park and Stuart Armstrong provided it in the 39th minute with a pulverising drive to open the scoring.

The Jags were well-drilled and man-marking a few of the champions’ players – Scott Brown and Callum McGregor in particular – and keeper Tomas Cerny wasn’t being unduly troubled.

In fact, he could have been picking the ball out of the net early in proceedings when the restored Kristoffer Ajer got his head to an
Armstrong free-kick.

Unfortunately, the Norwegian’s precison was out and his effort flew off target, but it could have so easily have been the opening goal the Hoops craved to get them back into the groove.

But Armstrong, who went into this encounter with only three goals to his name this season, showed him how it should be done with his barrier-breaking delivery as half-time approached.

The midfielder sauntered into the penalty area on the left-hand side and the Thistle players clearly believed he was thinking about working a one-two with Odsonne Edouard.

However, completely unexpectedly, Armstrong let fly with a powerful diagonal drive that zipped beyond the helpless Cerny as it exploded high into the back of the net.

Parkhead erupted and their favourites were back on track.

Before that, in truth, there was little to get too excited about.

Kieran Tierney attempted to show his frontline team-mates the way to goal in the 15th minute when he made a surging run down the left.

The defender switched the ball onto his right foot, but failed to make significant impact and the Jags No.1 made a comfortable save.

Scotty Sinclair also came to life with a trademark run inside, but his shot carried over the bar.

As expected, the Maryhill outfit were showing signs of growing in confidence as the champions toiled to take control.

But that all changed with one swish of Armstrong’s left boot as the break beckoned.

And the Hoops really got into their unstoppable stride after the turnaround as James Forrest and Sinclair got more involved on the flanks. Both put in excellent shifts before they were eventually substituted by Jonny Hayes and Michael Johnston respectively.

By the time of the tricky Johnston’s introduction, the game was as good as over as far as a contest was concerned. Tierney, who had looked in the mood right from the off, deservedly scored in the 67th minute, another iconic figure for the home fans.

The left-back burst down the left, played an exquisite one-two with Sinclair and blasted an unsaveable close-range left-foot drive into the roof of the net.

Rodgers’ men then went into cruise control as Thistle struggled, gave away too many fouls and saw a posse of players being booked by referee Alan Muir as their frustration became obvious.

Leigh Griffiths also came on late in the game for Edouard, and almost set up a goal with his first kick of the ball. He fired over an

inch-perfect corner-kick and Dedryck Boyata, running clear of opposition defenders, had a free header smack in front of goal.

Unfortunately, the Belgian’s effort went straight at Cerny and the chance was lost.

However, in the end, it didn’t matter on an upstanding and uplifting evening in the east end of Glasgow.

Now Aberdeen visit on Saturday and there is the opportunity for Celtic to move eight points clear of the Dons.

At the moment, though, it’s one down and 68 to go to equal our own record!

CQN Man of the Match – Stuart Armstrong.

TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Armstrong; Forrest

(sub: Hayes 62), McGregor, Sinclair (sub: Johnston 71); Edouard (sub:

Griffiths 79).

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