Alan Thompson's penalty miss on the final day of last season cost Celtic the Scottish Premier League title, but the midfielder is making up for it with a vengeance. Thompson's ruthless efficiency from the spot for the second game running secured Martin O'Neill's team a hard-earned victory across Glasgow at Firhill. In truth, though, Celtic's slipshod finishing prevented them from putting the game well beyond Partick Thistle, with Shaun Maloney the most culpable in a profligate second half.
That was a shame, because Maloney was the most polished performer in the opening period as the youngster, denied his debut for Scotland in midweek - Berti Vogts chose just to introduce Manchester United's Darren Fletcher instead - tried to enhance his claim for international honours.
Diminutive Maloney may be, but the 20-year-old, who is deputising while Chris Sutton is sidelined by a five-game suspension, possesses great touch and trickery. He underlined his growing reputation in the ninth minute, eluding a brace of Partick Thistle markers to supply Thompson on the left wing. Thompson's overhit cross was kept in by the industrious Stilian Petrov on the far side. He wrestled past Eddie Forrest and rolled the ball into the path of Paul Lambert, whose raking shot squirmed through the grasp of goalkeeper Jakup Mikkelsen for the opener.
Thistle were stung. Their manager, Gerry Collins, had recruited a dozen new players in the close-season, and while two were involved in restoring parity after 25 minutes, the vital influence came from an old hand, Gerry Britton. The veteran striker displayed deftness and intelligence in equal measure as he controlled a low cross into the box from Jean-Yves Anis, a summer signing from Chelsea. With his back to goal, Britton laid the ball into the path of James Grady, and the striker buried an angled shot beyond Robert Douglas. "There's only one team in Glasgow," taunted the Partick fans.
At the other end, the Partick captain, Derek Whyte, kept a tight rein on the robust Bobo Balde at set-pieces, but sadly for Whyte his colleague Ian Ross was less circumspect, and conceded the penalty that allowed Celtic to regain the lead in the 43rd minute.
A swift counterattack saw Petrov deliver a perfect pass wide to Larsson. The ball was bent into the run of Petrov at the far post, but the midfielder was barged by Ross, allowing Thompson to put Celtic ahead.
Thistle absorbed a lot of pressure in the second half, but Stephane Bonnes, recently recalled from Parkhead, could have embarrassed Celtic had he capitalised on a goalmouth scramble at the death.
Partick Thistle 1
Lambert 8, Thompson pen 44
Half-time: 1-2 Attendance: 9,045Reuse content