Despite a valiant effort from the Lions, it wasn’t to be as goals from Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie and Albian Ajeti were enough to cancel out an early penalty from Jason Holt and a late rocket from Julien Serrano and see all three points stay in Glasgow.
An end to end opening to the game seen both sides claim for penalties – and it was the Lions who would benefit first.
Ryan Christie was convinced he should have been awarded a spot-kick for handball after his effort was blocked by Ciaron Brown but the referee waved play on, giving the defender the benefit of the doubt that his hand was in a natural position at the time.
Within seconds though, Livi were up the other end and Scott Tiffoney, starting for the first time this season, looked to square the ball into the box only for it to be cut out by Kristoffer Ajer’s hand and this time match referee Gavin Duncan did point to the spot. Jason Holt stepped up and fired into the top corner to net his first Livingston goal.
That lead would only last four minutes though as Albian Ajeti teed up Callum McGregor for his first of the season – the midfield man being aided by a deflection against Nicky Devlin which took the flight of the ball out of Robby McCrorie’s reach.
It wasn’t long before the hosts would take the lead with McGregor and Greg Taylor combining on the left to set up Ryan Christie to turn in Celtic’s second from close range. It was a goal that would leave Gary Holt aggrieved afterwards though as the replays would show that Taylor had strayed offside before teeing up Christie.
A third goal for the champions would come midway through the second half when Ntcham ghosted through the midfield and found Ryan Christie who’s subtle but effective through ball was swept in by Ajeti from 20 yards. It was a brilliant finish from a striker bang in form having only joined the hosts in the summer.
At that point, it would be feared that the home side would continue to push and rack up more goals however, it was down the other end the next goal would come – and what a goal it was. Substitute Lars Lokotsch hooked the ball into the middle of the park where Jason Holt & Julien Serrano would link up with the latter screaming a fantastic effort into the top corner from all of 25 yards, leaving Celtic ‘keeper Barkas with no chance.
There would be one final chance for the Lions to nick an equaliser when Alan Forrest’s ball into the box found unmarked debutant Carlo Pignatiello 8 yards from goal but he got his leap all wrong and sent a header wide of the target.
A defeat in the end but certainly no lack of fight and heart from Livingston. Attention now turns to the visit of St Johnstone to the Tony Macaroni Arena next Saturday.
Celtic: Barkas, Abed Elhamed (⇔ Bitton 74), Duffy, Ajer, Frimpong (⇔ Forrest 74), Brown, Ntcham (⇔ Turnbull 85), McGregor, Taylor, Ajeti (⇔ Klimala ▊ 79), Christie (⇔ Elyounoussi 84)
Subs not used: Soro, Rogic, Edouard, Bain
Goals: McGregor (20), Christie (23), Ajeti (52)
Livingston: McCrorie, Devlin, Ambrose, Guthrie, Brown (⇔ Forrest 74), Serrano ▊ , Bartley (⇔ Pignatiello 88), Holt, Sibbald ▊ (⇔ Robinson 70), Pittman, Tiffoney (⇔ Lokotsch 69)
Subs not used: Stryjek, Taylor-Sinclair, Lawson, McMillan, Poplatnik
Goals: Holt (16 pen), Serrano (78)
Referee: Gavin Duncan
Match Report: Dave Black