Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic2Ross CountyRoss County0

Celtic 2-0 Ross County

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport
Celtic celebrate the opening goal by Leigh Griffiths (second right)
Griffiths (second right) opened the scoring

Celtic began the defence of their Scottish title with a workmanlike win over Ross County that was tinged with opening-day controversy.

It looked ominous for County when Leigh Griffiths fired the hosts into the lead with a penalty after only three minutes before leaving the field injured.

But Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card for a foul on Jackson Irvine.

And Stefan Johansen fired the Glasgow side's second before half-time.

Interview - Celtic manager Ronny Deila

It started and ended as a day of celebration for Celtic, with John Clark, the present kit man and former member of the Lisbon Lions side that won the European Cup in 1967, unfurling the title flag before the kick-off.

More important than that, or even the start to their pursuit of a fifth-straight title, was further preparation for the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Qarabag on Wednesday.

With that in mind, Nir Bitton and Mikael Lustig were rested from the likely starting line-up in Azerbaijan, with 18-year-old Kieran Tierney handed only his second start at left-back in the absence of the suspended Emilio Izaguirre and with Charlie Mulgrew just short of match fitness.

Of course, summer arrival Nadir Ciftci was another absentee as the striker started a six-match domestic suspension for biting Dundee's Jim McAlister and replacement Griffiths showed early determination to make the most of the Turk's enforced absence.

The former Wolves striker ghosted behind Andrew Davies to meet an intricate Virgil van Dijk through ball, forcing a clumsy challenge from the defender who last season helped Bradford City to a famous win over Chelsea.

Griffiths had failed with a penalty in the Champions League qualifier against Stjarnan and his spot-kick this time only just squeezed under the body of goalkeeper Scott Fox.

An explanation for the less than convincing nature of the strike perhaps came moments later as Griffiths slumped to the ground still nursing the knock that came from the original challenge before eventually limping off after 18 minutes.

By then, County had nevertheless started to work their way back into the game against a side who had the added advantage of three competitive games behind them.

Interview - Ross County manager Jim McIntyre

Jim McIntyre's starting 11 only featured two players who began last season under his predecessor, Derek Adams, but five of the 10 new faces added this summer - including the unfortunate Davies and Fox.

Irvine established himself on loan with County before making his move from Celtic permanent during the close season and he was unfortunate not to make his mark against his former club.

A moment of slackness by former Manchester City defender Dedryck Boyata allowed Craig Curran to thread a ball to Irvine, who was upended by Gordon on the outside edge of the penalty box to deny the midfielder a shot at a beckoning net.

With referee Willie Collum choosing yellow instead of red, it was the green light for Celtic to breath a sigh of relief with a second goal as Gary Mackay-Steven neatly set up Johansen to power home from 15 yards.

Rather than crumble, County responded by making the hosts work for their victory in a second half of more vigorous end-to-end action and fine saves from both goalkeepers.

However, Celtic finished with composure restored, three points in the bag and a record intact of not having lost on the opening day since 1997.

Stefan Johansen scores Celtic's second goal
Stefan Johansen scored Celtic's second goal against Ross County

Line-ups

Celtic

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1GordonBooked at 23mins
  • 4Ambrose
  • 20Boyata
  • 5van Dijk
  • 63TierneySubstituted forJankoat 60'minutes
  • 8Brown
  • 25JohansenSubstituted forCommonsat 60'minutes
  • 49Forrest
  • 14ArmstrongBooked at 61mins
  • 16Mackay-Steven
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forScepovicat 19'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Bitton
  • 12Scepovic
  • 15Commons
  • 18Rogic
  • 22Janko
  • 26Bailly
  • 42McGregor

Ross County

Formation 4-5-1

  • 1Fox
  • 2Fraser
  • 15Davies
  • 5Boyd
  • 12Foster
  • 8McShaneSubstituted forGrahamat 86'minutes
  • 4Quinn
  • 7Gardyne
  • 36Irvine
  • 18MurdochSubstituted forDe Vitaat 56'minutes
  • 11CurranSubstituted forBoyceat 70'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Robertson
  • 9Graham
  • 10Boyce
  • 14Holden
  • 17Franks
  • 21Bachmann
  • 24De Vita
Referee:
William Collum
Attendance:
45,197

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamRoss County
Possession
Home57%
Away43%
Shots
Home13
Away8
Shots on Target
Home7
Away4
Corners
Home15
Away4
Fouls
Home11
Away5

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Celtic 2, Ross County 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Celtic 2, Ross County 0.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Craig Gordon.

  4. Post update

    Attempt saved. Richard Foster (Ross County) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner.

  5. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Scott Fox.

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Stefan Scepovic (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Ross County. Brian Graham replaces Ian McShane.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Gary Mackay-Steven (Celtic) left footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Marcus Fraser.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Andrew Davies.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Scott Boyd.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

  15. Post update

    Rocco Quinn (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Liam Boyce.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Scott Boyd.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Rocco Quinn.

  20. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Raffaele De Vita.