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Celtic 2-0 Ross County: Griffiths on target in comfortable win

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Leigh Griffiths makes it 2-0 to Celtic
Griffiths makes it 2-0 to Celtic an hour into a one-sided contest

Leigh Griffiths scored on his first Scottish Premiership start of the season as Celtic eased to victory over Ross County.

The Scotland striker looped a well-placed header in from a Ryan Christie cross to add to a first-half strike from David Turnbull.

Celtic stay 16 points behind Rangers, having played three fewer matches.

Bottom-of-the-table County battled diligently under new manager John Hughes but seldom threatened.

The clamour to remove Neil Lennon reached fever pitch following a League Cup defeat at home against County last month, but the pressure on the Celtic manager has eased in recent weeks.

Sunday’s dramatic Scottish Cup success completed a quadruple treble of trophies and the champions are now five games unbeaten in all competitions.

There were further signs of improvement in this one-sided contest, too. Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard were paired together up front, with the Frenchman given a freer role to go looking for the ball.

Both were lively, with Edouard shooting just wide in the first half and Griffiths squandering two good chances shortly before he got his goal.

That arrived on the hour when he was given time to steer home a delivery from the right from Christie.

Griffiths, who scored as an extra-time substitute and tucked in a shoot-out penalty against Hearts, had earlier delayed a good shooting opportunity, while Ross Laidlaw saved after an appalling back-pass from Iain Vigurs presented Griffiths with a one-on-one.

The breakthrough had come after 24 minutes when Jeremie Frimpong turned Josh Reid inside out before his cut-back from the bye-line was turned in by Turnbull.

County spent most of the time defending their own penalty area but did have one good sight of goal early on, when Ross Stewart glanced a header wide.

The visitors then lost their top scorer to injury before the interval and offered little in attack thereafter.

Man-of-the-match – David Turnbull

David Turnbull steers in the opening goal for Celtic
Turnbull steered in the opening goal and was constantly probing for openings in the final third

What did we learn?

Griffiths and Edouard have proven their prowess as a partnership before and, while the former was undoubtedly rusty, he got a valuable 80-minutes under his belt and tucked away his fifth goal of the season with a calm assurance.

With County sitting deep, Turnbull and Christie were busy as the champions looked for gaps in a packed defence, although some of the play out from the back remains a bit ponderous.

The home defence were rarely troubled but a clean sheet will be welcome and there were no signs of the panic witnessed at Hampden on Sunday and in several other outings this season.

What did they say?

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “It’s another step in the right direction. I thought we should have won the game by a lot more but I’m very pleased with the freshness the boys who came in today brought to the team. The was a good zest about us.”

Ross County manager John Hughes: “Our organisation, the distances between players, our willingness to get stuck in and fight for the cause; I think that was evident. The disappointment is I’d like to have created more chances, laid a glove on them a little bit, and I’d like to have been better on the ball.”

What next?

Celtic visit Hamilton Academical on Boxing Day (15:00 GMT), while Ross County are at home to St Mirren (15:00) looking to end a run of 11 league games without victory.

Player of the match

LaidlawRoss Laidlaw

Celtic

  1. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull

  2. Squad number9Player nameGriffiths

  3. Squad number12Player nameSoro

  4. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor

  5. Squad number19Player nameJohnston

  6. Squad number17Player nameChristie

  7. Squad number65Player nameHazard

  8. Squad number30Player nameFrimpong

  9. Squad number35Player nameAjer

  10. Squad number93Player nameLaxalt

  11. Squad number18Player nameRogic

  12. Squad number2Player nameJullien

  13. Squad number22Player nameEdouard

  14. Squad number21Player nameNtcham

  15. Squad number10Player nameAjeti

Ross County

  1. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw

  2. Squad number43Player nameReid

  3. Squad number5Player nameMorris

  4. Squad number18Player nameKelly

  5. Squad number8Player nameShaw

  6. Squad number24Player namePaton

  7. Squad number6Player nameDraper

  8. Squad number16Player nameIacovitti

  9. Squad number11Player nameVigurs

  10. Squad number15Player nameWatson

  11. Squad number7Player nameGardyne

  12. Squad number27Player nameStewart

  13. Squad number14Player nameHylton

  14. Squad number22Player nameTillson

  15. Squad number9Player nameMckay

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 65Hazard
  • 30Frimpong
  • 2Jullien
  • 35Ajer
  • 93Laxalt
  • 12Soro
  • 17ChristieSubstituted forRogicat 72′minutes
  • 14TurnbullSubstituted forNtchamat 71′minutes
  • 42McGregor
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forAjetiat 81′minutes
  • 22EdouardSubstituted forJohnstonat 72′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Barkas
  • 3Taylor
  • 6Bitton
  • 10Ajeti
  • 11Klimala
  • 18Rogic
  • 19Johnston
  • 21Ntcham
  • 27Elyounoussi

Ross County

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 15Watson
  • 5Morris
  • 16Iacovitti
  • 43Reid
  • 24Paton
  • 6DraperSubstituted forTillsonat 76′minutes
  • 11VigursSubstituted forMckayat 76′minutes
  • 18Kelly
  • 7GardyneSubstituted forHyltonat 45′minutes
  • 27StewartSubstituted forShawat 34′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Tremarco
  • 8Shaw
  • 9Mckay
  • 14Hylton
  • 22Tillson
  • 25Donaldson
  • 31Munro
  • 44Wright
  • 46Williamson

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