Match ends, Ross County 0, Celtic 1.
Ross County 0-1 Celtic
- Premiership leaders Celtic move three points clear
- Deflected Kris Commons strike settles the match
- Ross County without a win in nine league games
Celtic opened up a three-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a narrow win against bottom side Ross County.
Kris Commons tested County goalkeeper Antonio Reguero with a well-struck free-kick late in the first half.
But Commons did beat the Spaniard early in the second period with the aid of a huge deflection off Paul Quinn.
Liam Boyce came close to equalising for the Staggies, his shot flashing wide of the right-hand post.
Ronny Deila's side, who have now won all four of their competitive fixtures in 2015, extend their run of clean sheets to five going in to next Sunday's Scottish League Cup semi-final against Rangers.
Celtic also have a game in hand over nearest challengers Aberdeen. County ended the day still four points behind St Mirren, who lost to Dundee.
The Highlanders were badly exposed in their first encounter with Deila's men this season - a 5-0 defeat - but appeared to have heeded that lesson with a scoreless draw at Celtic Park before the turn of the year.
County boss Jim McIntyre had emphasised the need to show the same discipline demonstrated in their Glasgow performance but also wanted his side to offer a goal threat.
Craig Curran tried to see to the latter, his ambitious long-range drive drifting narrowly wide of Craig Gordon's goal in the opening minutes.
Commons headed over a fast-moving Emilio Izaguirre cross from almost underneath the crossbar and John Guidetti - back in the Celtic starting line-up - curved a free-kick narrowly wide.
An awkward shot by Graham Carey bounced up off the chest of Gordon and a shot of similar strength by Commons was blocked by Scott Boyd moments later.
Commons assumed free-kick duties after being fouled by Filip Kiss, which resulted in a booking for the County midfielder, and Reguero did well to palm the curling strike to safety.
A quick counter attack at the beginning of the second half almost gave Celtic the lead as Izaguirre, Commons and Guidetti combined to put Leigh Griffiths through and, after Reguero blocked well, Guidetti's attempt to convert the rebound was diverted wide by Jamie Reckord.
County may have escaped on that occasion but fortune did not smile on the hosts moments later when Commons let fly from distance.
The shot caught Quinn's calf and the change in trajectory completely outfoxed the helpless Reguero, who could only watch as the ball looped into the net.
Celtic held their lead with a degree of comfort but were eager for a second. Guidetti flicked a shot over before being denied by an unorthodox and risky foot-led tackle by keeper Reguero following Griffiths' teasing centre.
Commons, who was soon replaced by Stefan Scepovic, was foiled by a melee of County defenders after rounding Reguero.
County sensed the opportunity to level in the final 15 minutes and Boyce's effort from the left had Gordon sprawling as it missed the far post.
Boyd drew a save from Gordon with a volley from the edge of the box and, in the final minute of regulation time, the keeper ensured a Celtic win by saving Quinn's header.
- 10KissBooked at 42mins
- 26WoodsSubstituted forJervisat 80'minutes
- 30DingwallSubstituted forBoyceat 45'minutes
- 23CareySubstituted forMaatsenat 78'minutes
- 5van DijkBooked at 49mins
- 15CommonsBooked at 62minsSubstituted forScepovicat 75'minutes
- 28GriffithsSubstituted forMcGregorat 76'minutes
- 9GuidettiBooked at 70minsSubstituted forAmbroseat 86'minutes
- Kevin Clancy
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Ross County 0, Celtic 1.
Attempt missed. Darren Maatsen (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is too high.
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Efe Ambrose.
Attempt saved. Scott Boyd (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Darren Maatsen (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic).
Foul by Jamie Reckord (Ross County).
Adam Matthews (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Celtic. Efe Ambrose replaces John Guidetti.
Attempt saved. Scott Boyd (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.
Liam Boyce (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Paul Quinn.
Attempt missed. Scott Brown (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Paul Quinn (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Stefan Scepovic (Celtic).
Substitution, Ross County. Jake Jervis replaces Martin Woods.
Attempt missed. Stefan Scepovic (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Substitution, Ross County. Darren Maatsen replaces Graham Carey.