Football

Ross County dampen Celtic's celebrations

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Three in a row winners (©GettyImages)
Three in a row winners (©GettyImages).

Emdad Rahman reports from Parkhead

Three in a row title winners Celtic were unable to deliver the sort of marauding performances which have seen Neil Lennon's men romp to the Scottish Premier League Championship.

Following on from the 5-1 thrashing of Partick Thistle Neil Lennon made two changes, bringing in 18-year-old Eoghan O’Connell for HHS first team debut to become the latest Youth Academy starlet to break into the senior eleven.

Fellow youngster Liam Henderson who scored at Firhill was given another outing as the injured Adam Matthews and Charlie Mulgrew dropped out.

Ross County had more resting on the game than their counterparts and left Celtic Park with mission accomplished after putting in a measured 90 minutes of pure graft to stifle Celtic on their own patch.

A first half break and sloppy play from the home team saw ex-Celtic man Graham Carey capitalise to perfectly play in Melvin de Leeuw who then beat Fraser Forster to his right with a crisp finish. It was County's first goal opportunity of the half.

Kris Commons scored his 28th goal of the season to equalise soon after but even with the lion's share of possession in the second half the Bhoys were unable to break the resistant visitors.

At this stage County did look like a side for whom the result mattered more, belying their status as a team fighting to avoid a relegation play-off.

Celtic's attacking trio of Commons, Anthony Stokes and Leigh Griffiths, looked menacing enough to swing the game in Celtic's favour. Griffiths was given too much time and space to line up a shot which Mark Brown failed to control. Commons was on hand to sweep the rebound into a gaping net.

Commons threatened again and just before half time Erik Cikos' vital challenge thwarted another Celtic goal by diverting a goal bound shot from the Bhoys hitman.

The start of the second half saw Liam Henderson almost score in successive games but his header from Stefan Johansen's assist rebounded off the upright.

The Staggies defended resolutely, and during one counter attack Carey almost spoilt the party with a thirty yard pile driver which beat Forster but bounced off the post.

While a winner wasn’t forthcoming it failed to dampen a carnival atmosphere on what was a day of celebration. Shortly after the final whistle the players lapped up the atmosphere by embarking on a lap of honour in front of the home support.

"We could have won this game, we could have lost it but that's really irrelevant," Neil Lennon said after the game.

"We were not at our attacking best and now we build for the remainder of the season. We'll look at rotating the squad a and giving other players opportunities to play."

CELTIC (4-4-2): Forster; Ambrose, van Dijk, O’Connell (Kayal 73); Izaguirre; Henderson, Brown, Johansen, Commons (Samaras 67); Stokes, Griffiths (Pukki 79)
Not Used: Zaluska, Balde, Herron, Fraser

ROSS COUNTY (4-4-2): Brown; Cikos, Boyd, Songo’o, Oikonomou; Kiss, Brittain, Tidser (Saunders 87), Carey, De Leeuw (Slew 72) Arquin (Gordon 87)
Not Used: McCarthy, Quinn, Glen, McLean

Man of the Match: Virgil van Dijk


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