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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 November, 2003, 16:48 GMT
Celtic sink battling Thistle
Chris Sutton scored twice for Celtic
Celtic 3-1 Partick Thistle

Celtic continue to cruise at the top of the Premier League after a comfortable home victory over Partick Thistle.

The Jags, who are the only club in Britain without a win this season, briefly upset the odds with an early goal from James Grady.

But normal service was resumed with a Henrik Larsson strike and a double from Chris Sutton in a match played out in high winds and torrential rain.

Celtic now sit eight points clear of Rangers, who travel to Easter Road on Sunday, while Thistle sit at the bottom of the pile with just two points.

Martin O'Neill made five changes to the Celtic side and handed starts to youngsters John Kennedy and Ross Wallace.

Kennedy was seldom tested at the back but did allow the tiny Grady to beat him in the air for Thistle's opener, while Wallace enjoyed a good afternoon on the left flank.

John Hartson and Stanislav Varga both tried their luck with early shots on goal as Celtic took the game to the visitors.

But the home crowd was stunned in the 12th minute when Thistle striker Grady was given room to head Derek Fleming's free kick past Magnus Hedman, off the underside of the crossbar.

Celtic responded with Larsson heading over from close range and Sutton saw his shot squeezed wide by a deflection.

The former Blackburn and Chelsea striker again threatened when he sprinted to the near post for Wallace's corner but flicked his header over the bar.

Henrik Larsson scored the first of Celtic's three goals
With 23 minutes gone Larsson levelled the game when he gathered a Sutton pass and drilled the ball past Kenny Arthur, despite the close attention of three Jags defenders.

Hartson then saw his glancing header flash inches wide of the target after connecting with a Larsson cross.

Ten minutes before half time, Celtic went in front when Larsson drove a low free-kick towards goal and Sutton's cute flick wrong-footed Arthur and the ball spun into the opposite corner of the net.

Wallace was the first Celtic player to threaten in the second half when he cut in from the left flank and tested Arthur with a powerful angled drive, which the keeper did well to tip over.

With an hour gone Celtic extended their lead when Larsson and Liam Miller combined to carve open the Jags defence and the Swede found Sutton, who knocked in his 10th goal in seven games from 12 yards.

Hartson then bundled his way into the Thistle penalty area and Arthur did well to push away the Welshman's rising shot.

Miller went close with a low drive and former Celtic defender Derek Whyte almost headed into his own net as the game fell flat in the closing stages and the home team strolled to another three points.


Celtic: Hedman, Mjallby, Kennedy, Varga, Sylla, Lennon, Miller, Sutton, Wallace, Larsson, Hartson. Subs: Marshall, Gray, Valgaeren, Petrov, Maloney.

Partick Thistle: Arthur, Murray, Whyte, Milne, Anis, Mitchell, Andy Ross, Fleming, McBride, Madaschi, Grady. Subs: Mikkelsen, Panther, Howie, Gemmell, Taylor.

Referee: C Thomson






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