meteorologists would have had a field day. Firhill saw all four seasons in the space of an afternoon but only the weather was changeable, not the football. Nothing deviated from the expected path as Celtic took care of Partick Thistle. The champions, favourites here and unbeaten in the SPFL Premiership, delivered another quietly effective win. They completed the minor milestone of surviving the first quarter of a league season unbeaten for the first time since 2003-04.
This is all Glasgow can offer as a top-flight derby at the moment. The neighbours went at each other as if bickering over an overhanging tree. It was feisty and competitive, with plenty of enthusiastic baiting from the stands. Celtic did not brush aside Thistle and there was a spell when they were on the back foot, with Efe Ambrose looking rocky in the second half and Kris Doolan and Kallum Higginbotham buzzing hungrily. But when Amido Balde scored an impressive goal to make it 2-1 16 minutes from time Celtic were immediately so comfortable with their lead that they defended it calmly even with 10 men. There was no indiscipline involved this time - they were a man down because they had already made their three substitutions when Georgios Samaras suffered a painful knee injury five minutes from the end and had to hirple around the trackside and off up the tunnel.
Emilio Izaguirre had already made that journey on a stretcher, having had his senses scrambled by a blow to the head when blocking an attempt on goal by Christie Elliott. Izaguirre had played on for a few minutes after the blow so it was not immediately apparent why he was sprawled on the ground, but the knock had caught up with him. Thankfully he was able to hold a conversation back in the dressing room, admitting he had no memory of a move in which he made a great chance for himself only to blaze it over the bar.
Celtic were solid and businesslike. They dealt with the generally poor weather, and Thistle's impressive vigour, to secure a deserved win. Anthony Stokes and Teemu Pukki were given the chance to develop their understanding as a front pair. Again, Stokes was the more effective of the two.
Pukki has admitted to finding it a little difficult to adapt to the rough-and-tumble of Scottish football and this passed by as his seventh consecutive Celtic game without a goal. He looks a little lost. He had two decent first-half chances. When Mikael Lustig played a through ball for him Pukki's first touch was lovely and set him up for a finish, but his shot lacked power and goalkeeper Scott Fox was able to touch it past the post. When he peeled off to the left a few moments later, Stokes picked him out with an inviting pass but, again, his shot across goal lacked conviction.
Thistle look at home in the Premiership, for all that they have yet to actually win a home game. Having five across midfield gave them an extra man and Celtic's quartet were up against it until Izaguirre and Lustig pushed up to swell the numbers. Thistle's graft was undone by the concession of a desperately cheap first-half goal. From Celtic's perspective it was wonderfully executed: Izaguirre's inswinging corner was perfectly planted on the head of Samaras in the six-yard box. The Greek forward stooped to ram home a header so powerful Sean Welsh could not keep it out on the line. From Thistle's point of view it was awful, with Samaras allowed far too much room.
While they were only behind by one goal, Thistle had no reason to lose heart, and there was optimism to be drawn from Ambrose's ragged second half. On an afternoon in which he and Virgil van Dijk had been playing without a care in the world, Ambrose went gently haywire for a couple of moments. First he dribbled out from the back only to pass the ball straight to Stuart Bannigan, inviting a shot which Fraser Forster saved. Then he was caught by Elliott. Izaguirre blocked the effort with his head and the ball broke to Higginbotham who wasted the opportunity, but Thistle were taking confidence from all of this and soon they equalised.
Conrad Balatoni opened up the Celtic defence with a header from a corner and Doolan hit the bar in the goalmouth, but buried the ball in the corner when it came back to him moments later. Doolan, bright and eager, has scored five already this season.
For eight minutes Celtic were in danger of dropping points for the second consecutive weekend. Balde saved them. He was played through and his finish was deft as he reached the ball under pressure from Fox and Aaron Muirhead and got a clever touch to roll the ball through the goalkeeper's legs into the net. The way the Celtic support instantly sang a song about him, you would think he did it all the time.