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Ross County 0-2 Celtic: Leaders six clear in Scottish Premiership after nervy win

Ross County 0-2 Celtic: Leaders six clear in Scottish Premiership after nervy win

Ross County v Celtic
Kyogo Furuhashi’s early goal came in his first start since December after a hamstring injury

Celtic will go into the final Old Firm game of the season six points clear of Rangers in the Scottish Premiership after a nervy win at Ross County.

The league leaders dominated in Dingwall but only had Kyogo Furuhashi’s early goal – his first since December – to show for it until Jota’s late second clinched a precious victory.

The triumph was enough to restore Celtic’s advantage at the summit with just four games remaining, starting with what could be a decisive derby at Celtic Park next Sunday.

Malky Mackay’s obdurate County, meanwhile, stay fifth in their pursuit of a first ever European qualification after what was just their second defeat in seven games.

It really could and should have been more for Celtic, but County also had chances of their own and did well to keep their visitors within touching distance.

And when Kyogo’s 12th-minute header arrowed into the net following a fantastic delivery from Jota, few would have predicted it would be the only goal of the day.

Celtic’s talisman had another two chances in the first half and could have headed in at half-time with the match ball. His combination play with Jota – who terrorised County throughout – lead to a volley that looped up and off the crossbar.

Kyogo was then quickest to react when Ross Laidlaw spilled a long-range effort from Matt O’Riley, but somehow the County goalkeeper was able to stick a foot at the rebound and put the ball behind.

On another occasion, the returning forward had the ball in the net after dashing onto an O’Riley through ball but the offside flag denied him.

The earlier reflex save gave Laidlaw confidence, then he denied Daizen Maeda. Again, Jota was the orchestrator and dinked a tempting ball in, but Maeda’s shot went high and the County stopper was able to stretch and tip over.

Celtic started the second half at the same pace, desperate for the second goal to kill the game off. Jota provided a sweet chip into the box and O’Riley beat Laidlaw to the ball, but Keith Watson was back to head off the line.

County had their best chance shortly after. Regan Charles-Cook cut back to Jordan White, who cleverly allowed the ball to roll to Harry Paton. Instead of shooting immediately, the Canadian hesitated, allowing Cameron Carter-Vickers to block.

The game became end-to end, County pushing for an equaliser and Celtic looking for a winner, but it was the latter which came in the 87th minute.

Liel Abada, who missed a glorious chance of his own, cut back for Georgios Giakoumakis. His shot curled off the bar but Jota reacted quickest, sliding in ahead of Connor Randall.

Man of the match – Jota

Jota challenges Connor Randall
A constant threat to the County defence, the winger was back to his best in Dingwall

What did we learn?

Just as happened last time these sides met in Dingwall, County pushed Celtic all the way and huge credit must go to them.

Plenty of teams have folded under the pressure of this potent Celtic attack, who were certainly in the mood. Kyogo should have scored more and Abada and Maeda could have made it comfortable, but the County back-line were resolute.

It shows how far they’ve come from the side that didn’t pick up a league win until the end of October and a European place is still within their grasp.

As for Celtic, they bounced back from their Scottish Cup semi-final disappointment and head into another Old Firm derby with their confidence buoyed.

It wasn’t the easy afternoon they had in mind, but they have come through another tough test with three points and a step closer to reclaiming the title.

What they said

Ross County manager Malky Mackay: “I am delighted that, against a team like that who score early, it doesn’t become two or three considering they won by seven last week.

“We had the two half chances around their box and we’re playing against a high-quality team and it’s a measure of where we’ve come to that we are in the mix with five other teams in the top half.”

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou: “A difficult place to play against a difficult opponent and I thought we played really well.

“It feels like another important day for us, but every day is an important day for us and I’ve been saying that since week six. We’ve had to be almost perfect and players have been dealing with that every day.”

What’s next?

Ross County travel to Tynecastle to take on Hearts next Saturday (15:00 BST), whilst Celtic host Rangers the following day (12:00).

Player of the match

JotaJota

with an average of 7.36

Ross County

  1. Squad number4Player nameCancola

  2. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw

  3. Squad number3Player nameVokins

  4. Squad number23Player nameHungbo

  5. Squad number2Player nameRandall

  6. Squad number10Player nameSamuel

  7. Squad number17Player nameCharles-Cook

  8. Squad number16Player nameIacovitti

  9. Squad number26Player nameWhite

  10. Squad number22Player nameTillson

  11. Squad number7Player nameSpittal

  12. Squad number15Player nameWatson

  13. Squad number6Player namePaton

  14. Squad number8Player nameCallachan

Celtic

  1. Squad number17Player nameJota

  2. Squad number8Player nameFuruhashi

  3. Squad number20Player nameCarter-Vickers

  4. Squad number3Player nameTaylor

  5. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor

  6. Squad number15Player nameHart

  7. Squad number38Player nameMaeda

  8. Squad number33Player nameO’Riley

  9. Squad number56Player nameRalston

  10. Squad number7Player nameGiakoumakis

  11. Squad number4Player nameStarfelt

  12. Squad number41Player nameHatate

  13. Squad number11Player nameAbada

  14. Squad number18Player nameRogic

  15. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull

  16. Squad number49Player nameForrest

Line-ups

Ross County

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 2Randall
  • 15Watson
  • 16Iacovitti
  • 3Vokins
  • 22TillsonSubstituted forCancolaat 70′minutes
  • 8CallachanBooked at 5mins
  • 7Spittal
  • 6PatonSubstituted forHungboat 70′minutes
  • 17Charles-CookSubstituted forSamuelat 88′minutes
  • 26WhiteBooked at 42mins

Substitutes

  • 4Cancola
  • 10Samuel
  • 11Sims
  • 18Burroughs
  • 19Ramsay
  • 20Drysdale
  • 21Munro
  • 23Hungbo
  • 24Paton

Celtic

Formation 4-3-3

  • 15Hart
  • 56Ralston
  • 20Carter-Vickers
  • 4Starfelt
  • 3Taylor
  • 33O’RileySubstituted forGiakoumakisat 65′minutes
  • 42McGregor
  • 41HatateSubstituted forTurnbullat 74′minutes
  • 17Neves FilipeSubstituted forForrestat 89′minutes
  • 8FuruhashiSubstituted forAbadaat 64′minutes
  • 38MaedaSubstituted forRogicat 64′minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Scales
  • 7Giakoumakis
  • 11Abada
  • 14Turnbull
  • 16McCarthy
  • 18Rogic
  • 29Bain
  • 49Forrest
  • 57Welsh

Referee:
Kevin Clancy

Attendance:
6,698

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Ross County 0, Celtic 2.

  2. Second Half ends, Ross County 0, Celtic 2.

  3. Offside, Ross County. Blair Spittal tries a through ball, but David Cancola is caught offside.

  4. Attempt missed. Blair Spittal (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Connor Randall with a cross.

  5. Substitution, Celtic. James Forrest replaces Jota.

  6. Substitution, Ross County. Dominic Samuel replaces Regan Charles-Cook.

  7. Goal! Ross County 0, Celtic 2. Jota (Celtic) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner.

  8. Giorgos Giakoumakis (Celtic) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Liel Abada.

  9. Attempt missed. David Turnbull (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Greg Taylor.

  10. Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Anthony Ralston.

  11. Foul by David Turnbull (Celtic).

  12. David Cancola (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Offside, Ross County. Alex Iacovitti tries a through ball, but Jordan White is caught offside.

  14. Attempt missed. David Turnbull (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Tomas Rogic.

  15. Liel Abada (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Foul by Jake Vokins (Ross County).

  17. Greg Taylor (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Foul by Joseph Hungbo (Ross County).

  19. Foul by Giorgos Giakoumakis (Celtic).

  20. David Cancola (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

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