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    By: Tony Connelly on 18 Nov, 2017 14:39

  • Scottish Premiership
    Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall
    Saturday, November 18, 2017

    Attendance - 6,590


    (Griffiths 77)

    LEIGH Griffiths’ sublime free-kick ensured Celtic left the Highlands with all three points to remain top of the Premiership. A well-organised Ross County gave the champions a difficult afternoon but they could not prevent the Brenden Rodgers’ side from extending their domestic unbeaten run to 64 games.

    Kieran Tierney became a century Bhoy with his 100th appearance in the Hoops. The 20-year-old, who recently captained Scotland for the first time, is one of the youngest Celts to have reached the landmark. Moussa Dembele, who scored a hat-trick with the French Under-21 side earlier in the week, led the Celtic attack as Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged starting XI from the side which beat St Johnstone 4-0 two weeks ago.

    Ross County pressed Celtic high up the pitch in the opening stages and threatened the Hoops when David Keillor-Dunn threaded a great ball through to Michael Gardyne. There was too much pace on the pass for the forward, though, and Craig Gordon rushed off his line to pounce on the ball.

    The pair had another crack at goal 10 minutes later when Gardyne cut out Nir Bitton’s pass and found Dunn in space at the edge of the box. He tried to curl the ball into the far top corner but his first-time effort went high over the crossbar.

    Despite the home side having a couple of ambitious efforts early on, Celtic dominated possession and looked comfortable and patient in the build-up as they assessed the best way to break through the opposition defence.

    McGregor was amongst the liveliest Celts and troubled the Ross County defence with quick footwork and dangerous passes into the box from the wide areas. Midway through the first half the Scotland midfielder weaved his way into the Stags’ penalty area, skipping past Christopher Routis’ tackle but captain Andrew Davis brought him down just before he could pull the trigger with a challenge which merited a penalty.

    Tierney provided a good opportunity for Dembele with a long, looping pass over the Ross County defence but McCarey was quick off his line and used his body to clear the danger just outside his box.

    Gardyne could do nothing to prevent Tierney powering past him out on the left and the Hoops full-back brushed past him on two occasions. Tierney’s cutbacks into a packed penalty area were scrambled clear and the half ended goal-less.

    Mikael Lustig almost changed that within two minutes of the restart when he came within inches of scoring from a set-piece. The Swedish defender ran across the box and attempted to redirect McGregor’s outswinging corner into the top corner with the outside of his foot but the ball flashed just wide of McCarey’s near post.

    Celtic had started the second half on the front foot and wasted little time in creating further opportunities with McGregor continuing to be the instigator. He drove at the home side’s defence and fed the ball out to Dembele who cut inside and looked for the far corner but his shot was held by the keeper.

    Celtic’s opportunities were limited by Ross County who defended well and frustrated the champions. Brenden Rodgers brought on Leigh Griffiths and Jonny Hayes midway through the second half and the Hoops continued to grind out chances.

    The breakthrough came thanks to Griffiths. Celtic were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal and Scotland internationalist clipped the ball over the wall and into the top corner.

    Olivier Ntcham replaced Dembele with just under 10 minutes remaining and the French midfielder almost doubled Celtic’s lead with a wonderful half volley from the edge of the box. The champions began to open up the home side more in the closing stages and Sinclair was unfortunate not to find himself on the score sheet when he sliced his shot from inside the box wide.

    Celtic now turn their attention to the UEFA Champions League where they will face Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital on Wednesday (November 22).

    CELTIC: (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Tierney, Boyata, Bitton, Lustig; Brown, Armstrong; Forrest (Hayes 64), McGregor (Griffiths 64), Sinclair, Dembele (Ntcham 81)

    Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Kouassi, Edouard

    ROSS COUNTY (5-4-1) McCarey; Naismith, Fraser, Kelly, Gardyne, Davies; Keillor-Dunn (Dow 86), Routis, Draper, O’Brien (Mikkelsen 81), Curran (Schalk 61)
    Not Used: Munro, Chow, Mikkelsen, McKay, Van Der Weg

    Website Man of the Match: Scott Brown 

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