Celtic go top of SPL despite goalless draw at Livingston

Defending champions frustrated at the end of a fine week but they leapfrog Hearts

Livingston 0 Celtic 0

Celtic moved to the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with a goalless draw at resolute Livingston.

Brendan Rodgers’ side had scored 23 goals in their previous five domestic games and gave their Europa League chances a boost with a 2-1 win over RB Leipzig at Parkhead on Thursday night.

However, Livi, who have been so impressive this season after coming up from the Championship, snapped at the Hoops' heels and defended stoutly all afternoon with goalkeeper Liam Kelly in fine form, but the point means Celtic leapfrogged Hearts on goal difference with a game in hand ahead of the international break.

READ MORE

After their European efforts Rodgers made two changes with goalkeeper Scott Bain replacing Craig Gordon — out with a knee injury which could rule him out of Scotland's upcoming Nations League double-header against Albania and Israel — while Kristoffer Ajer came into central defence for Filip Benkovic.

Bobby Burns, Keaghan Jacobs and Stevie Lawless returned for the home side who naturally looked at ease on their artificial surface, which Hoops boss Rodgers had again expressed his displeasure about ahead of the match.

In the 16th minute Celtic defender Mikael Lustig blocked a goal-bound shot from Livi defender Craig Halkett after Alan Lithgow's long throw-in to the Hoops box.

Five minutes later Hoops winger Scott Sinclair headed a James Forrest cross wide from 12 yards.

Livi's Shaun Byrne was booked by referee Kevin Clancy in the 28th minute for simulation at the edge of the Celtic box, moments after the official had stepped in following a clash with home striker Dolly Menga and Hoops attacker Ryan Christie.

Celtic slowly began to impose themselves and Kelly did well to block Christie’s drive from 12 yards before Jacobs deflected Tom Rogic’s follow-up shot for a corner, which came to nothing.

Livingston were at their most dangerous from set-pieces and twice Bain tipped Declan Gallagher headers from corners over the bar. At the other end, just before the break, Forrest clipped the crossbar with a left-footed shot from 10 yards after being played in by Christie.

Celtic survived a melee inside their box early in the second half — Livi’s Scott Pittman had a shot blocked — before Bain again had to save a header from Gallagher, following another long throw from Halkett.

The match began to heat up and Kelly was almost caught out by a Christie snap-shot. Rodgers’ side stepped up the pressure as the match entered its final stages and Kelly brilliantly turned a Rogic thunderbolt from the edge of the box over the bar for yet another corner which came to nothing.

The siege on the Livi goal continued during five added minutes but a tiring home side stuck to their defensive tasks for a hard-fought point.