Celtic 2-1 Ross County

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland

Reigning champions Celtic came back from behind to beat Ross County in their Scottish Premiership opener.

County's Darren Maatsen shocked Celtic Park with an emphatic early goal from distance.

Hoops' Dutch debutant Derk Boerrigter looked lively before Anthony Stokes levelled from a yard out for the hosts.

Celtic hit the woodwork twice after the break and Stokes was denied a penalty before the striker's late near-post finish clinched three points.

It was so nearly an early dent to the 90-point-total Celtic manager Neil Lennon has set for 2013-14 in the inaugural year of the Scottish Professional Football League's Premiership.

Last season, a tally of 79 points was amassed as the final Scottish Premier League title was secured by Lennon's side, and the champions' flag was unfurled before kick-off.

Eyes focused largely on Dutch debutants with former Ajax winger Boerrigter in the hosts' line-up and Ross County fielding Maatsen and forward Kevin Luckassen.

Derk Boerrigter
Celtic's Derk Boerrigter made a lively debut but was forced off with an injury after half an hour

County were beginning only their second season in Scotland's top flight and a fifth-place finish last time round means hopes are high for the Dingwall side during the new campaign.

Supporters' minds have still to be made up on the reliability of Hoops defender Efe Ambrose and when Ross County's Graham Carey charged down the Nigerian's first minute clearance, hearts were in mouths again.

Early Celtic shakiness gave way to sheer County brilliance when one of their five new players, Maatsen, thumped home a brilliant opening goal off the underside of the crossbar.

Neat play by Carey set up the Dutchman's right-footed smash from the corner of the penalty box.

Boerrigter did his best to give Celtic fans a positive first impression, one header wide and a left-foot shot well saved by County's Mark Brown punctuating a generally lively offering.

Visiting goalkeeper Brown earned further plaudits by beating away Commons' fierce drive but his goal was about to be breached in scrappy style.

Amid shouts for offside, it was Celtic striker Stokes who turned in from a yard after Ledley's effort had been blocked and then Boeriggter's follow-up rebounded off a post.

The Highlanders rarely got out of their own half and what was almost Boeriggter's debut goal became his last contribution when he slid for a cross and fell awkwardly near defender Mihael Kovacevic.

Stokes has shown reluctance to sign a new Celtic contract but was much sprightlier in hitting a snap-shot narrowly wide after the re-start.

Commons continued the one-way traffic by hitting the crossbar and then the midriff of a sprawling Branislav Micic within a four-minute period.

Woodwork was struck again when Ledley's header hit the post as goalkeeper Brown helplessly looked on.

County's rearguard weathered relentless Celtic attacks but when their new defender Brian McLean appeared to push Stokes in the box the whole stadium awaited referee Willie Collum's whistle, which never came.

But Irishman Stokes continued his telepathic passing understanding with Commons until the latter stages, and benefitted from his cute pass to fire in at Brown's near post.


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