Scottish Premiership
Ross CountyRoss County1CelticCeltic4

Ross County 1-4 Celtic

By Martin ConaghanBBC Scotland

Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with an incisive victory against Ross County in Dingwall.

A header in either half from Virgil van Dijk gave the visitors a two-goal lead before County's Ivan Sproule fired in on the rebound in the 68th minute.

In the five-minute period that followed, Joe Ledley nodded in twice to put Celtic three ahead.

County had few chances in the match or a reply to Celtic's aerial dominance.

The win was Celtic's first in the league at Dingwall, and extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to seven points ahead of second-placed Aberdeen.

County continue to languish in the bottom half of the table with just 10 points, though they have games in hand on account of their last two league matches being abandoned.

Inside the opening five minutes, a Charlie Mulgrew corner was nodded down by Van Dijk, but an alert County defence cleared their lines.

The Dutchman went close with a powerful drive from the edge of the County penalty forcing keeper Mark Brown to make the save, then a similar effort from Celtic captain Scott Brown edged wide of the mark.

Neil Lennon's men struggled to unlock a stubborn County defence, with Georgios Samaras ruled out due to an injury picked up in the midweek champions League defeat by Ajax, and Kris Commons consigned to the bench.

James Forrest struggled to control a curling ball from Emilio Izaguirre in the 35th minute and sent his effort over the bar, then Mihael Kovacevic's header at the other end sailed over Fraser Forster's crossbar.

The opener arrived with four minutes of the first half remaining from the head of Van Dijk when Izaguirre linked up with Mulgrew on the left-hand side and crossed in for the big centre-half to rise above the County defence and nod in off the far post.

On the stroke of half-time, Nir Biton drilled a low effort straight towards the County goal, but Mark Brown smothered it comfortably.

Van Dijk continued to assert his authority on the game after the restart, imposing his presence in both halves of the pitch and testing the County defence at any opportunity with long-distance shots.

And it was only eight minutes after the interval when he added his second goal of the day with another fine header at the front post from a Mulgrew corner that eluded County keeper Brown.

Within minutes of coming on as a sub, Sproule pounced when Forster - who had been all but a spectator for the majority of the match - blocked a Stuart Kettlewell goal-bound shot, and the former Hibs man fired in to reduce the arrears.

No sooner had County pulled themselves back into the match than Celtic re-applied their two-goal lead through Ledley's first header of the day when Izaguirre crossed for the Welshman to nod in from six yards.

Barely three more minutes had expired when Ledley nodded in again, this time rising above the County defence to send a looping header over his shoulder past Brown.

Headers seemed to be the order of the day, and Biton tested Brown with one of his own that was tipped over the bar with 15 minutes of the match remaining.

In the final five minutes, Ledley was denied his hat-trick by Brown's left-hand post with a powerful shot that ricocheted out for a goal-kick, before being swapped for Derk Boerrigter.

Line-ups

Ross County

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Brown
  • 2KovacevicBooked at 64minsSubstituted forSaundersat 80'minutes
  • 23CareyBooked at 63minsSubstituted forMaatsenat 66'minutes
  • 5Boyd
  • 21McLean
  • 6Micic
  • 8Brittain
  • 4KettlewellBooked at 43mins
  • 18KlokSubstituted forSprouleat 66'minutes
  • 11De LeeuwBooked at 72mins
  • 10Quinn

Substitutes

  • 3Gordon
  • 7Sproule
  • 14Maatsen
  • 17Ross
  • 19Luckassen
  • 20Fraser
  • 22Saunders

Celtic

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Forster
  • 41Fisher
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 16LedleySubstituted forBoerrigterat 85'minutes
  • 4Ambrose
  • 5van Dijk
  • 49ForrestSubstituted forStokesat 71'minutes
  • 6BitonSubstituted forRogicat 80'minutes
  • 20Pukki
  • 8BrownBooked at 74mins
  • 21Mulgrew

Substitutes

  • 10Stokes
  • 11Boerrigter
  • 15Commons
  • 17Baldé
  • 18Rogic
  • 24Zaluska
  • 46McGeouch
Referee:
Kevin Clancy
Attendance:
5,982

Match Stats

Home TeamRoss CountyAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home39%
Away61%
Shots
Home4
Away23
Shots on Target
Home2
Away8
Corners
Home1
Away6
Fouls
Home15
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Ross County 1, Celtic 4.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Ross County 1, Celtic 4.

  3. Post update

    Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Ivan Sproule (Ross County).

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Derk Boerrigter replaces Joe Ledley.

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  7. Post update

    Joe Ledley (Celtic) hits the left post with a right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Teemu Pukki (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Ross County. Steve Saunders replaces Mihael Kovacevic.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Tomas Rogic replaces Nir Biton.

  11. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Mark Brown.

  12. Post update

    Attempt saved. Nir Biton (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  13. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Melvin De Leeuw.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Nir Biton (Celtic).

  15. Post update

    Darren Maatsen (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Booking

    Scott Brown (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

  17. Goal!

    Goal! Ross County 1, Celtic 4. Joe Ledley (Celtic) header from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Darnell Fisher.

  18. Booking

    Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

  19. Post update

    Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County).