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  • Celts sweep Ross County aside in well-earned Dingwall win

    Celts sweep Ross County aside in well-earned Dingwall win

    By: Joe Donnelly on 01 Dec, 2019 13:48

  • Scottish Premiership
    Sunday, December 1, 2019
    The Global Energy Stadium, Glasgow

    ROSS COUNTY… 1
    (Stewart 24)

    CELTIC… 4
    (Christie 12 pen & 39, Rogic 66, Johnston 72)

    CELTIC returned to domestic action this afternoon (Sunday) with a confident 4-1 win over Ross County in Dingwall. A brace from Ryan Christie, a goal from Tom Rogic and a fine strike from super-sub Mikey Johnston secured maximum points on the road for Neil Lennon’s men as they retained top-stop in the Scottish Premiership.  

    Spurred by the vocal travelling fans, Celtic quickly settled into a rhythm of sharp passing and possession play in the opening stages. Besides the occasional long ball played from the heart of their defence, Ross County rarely crossed the half-way line, so dominant were the visitors on the ball.

    On seven minutes, Ryan Christie crashed a wide free kick off the crossbar, before Tom Rogic flashed a shot wide of the mark minutes later. The Hoops then won a handful of corners in quick succession, as they sought to the break the deadlock.

    On 11 minutes, Greg Taylor paired well with Scott Brown in the penalty area, whose neat flick outside allowed Callum McGregor to force a corner from Staggies captain Fontaine. In an attempt to clear the resulting set-piece, the Scottish champions were awarded a penalty – which Christie took, missed, but converted from the rebound.

    One in front ahead of the quarter-hour mark, Neil Lennon’s men continued to play football high up the pitch. To the home side’s credit, they were well-organised in defence, despite allowing Lewis Morgan a couple of half-chances at goal.

    After winning a free-kick wide on the left flank, the home side pulled level on 24 minutes when Sean Kelly curled a wicked ball into the box, sent between the Hoops backline and Fraser Forster in goal. County striker Ross Stewart in turn rose highest to header home from six-yards against the run of play.

    Buoyed by their equaliser, Ross County begun playing further up the pitch, but were stopped in the final third each time by Christopher Jullien and Kris Ajer in central areas.

    With six minutes of the first half remaining, it was the latter who helped put the Hoops back in front, when his inch-perfect through-ball split the Staggies’ backline. Christie duly latched on, burst into the box, and coolly slotted past Nathan Baxter between the sticks.  

    Into the second period, Celtic continued to press the home side deep but struggled to make the final pass count in the final third. On 58 minutes, the first real opportunity of the half fell to Callum McGregor when he sent a right-foot drive off the post, following some smart one-touch passing between himself, James Forrest and Greg Taylor.

    As the half wore on, County retreated deeper still into their own half, playing tighter and more compact with each wave of Celtic attack.  

    This tactic could only hold up for so long, however, as Tom Rogic extended the visitors’ lead on 66 minutes. After creating space on the left, Morgan burst down the left flank before playing the ball inside to Taylor. The 22-year-old left-back played the ball on to Christie, who played the ball on again to Rogic, whose shot hit the back of the net with the help of a slight deflection.

    The Australian’s goal marked his final contribution to the afternoon, before making way for midweek scorer Mikey Johnston. In a flash of magic, it took the 20-year-old attacker just one minute to score two in as many games, when Taylor showed great vision to play a long through-ball down the left from deep inside his own half, Johnston burst into the box, past his man, and fired the ball home across the keeper.

    Now well in control of the match, substitute Leigh Griffiths – on for Morgan on 75 minutes – was next to come close, when he capitalised on a goalkeeping error to zip a ball across goal from a tight angle. A few minutes after that, Ross County had the ball in the opposite net, but referee Nick Walsh pulled play back for offside.

    In the closing stages, Celtic played much of their football in County’s half to finish worthy winners. An occasionally hard-fought, but always deserved win in Dingwall for the Hoops ahead of Hamilton at Paradise on Wednesday and Rangers at Hampden a week from today.

    ROSS COUNTY: Baxter, Kelly, Fontaine, Morris, Erwin (Graham 64), Mullin, Watson, Spence, Foster, Paton, Stewart
    Subs not used: Laidlaw, Fraser, Gardyne, McKay, Spittal, Chalmers

    CELTIC: Forster; Frimpong, Jullien, Ajer, Taylor; Brown, Rogic (Johnston 71), McGregor (Bitton 80), Christie, Forrest; Morgan (Griffiths 75)
    Subs not used: Gordon, Bauer, Robertson, Sinclair  

    Website Man of the Match: Ryan Christie

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