Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic2Ross CountyRoss County0

Celtic 2-0 Ross County

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland at Celtic Park

Leigh Griffiths scored his 30th goal of the season as Celtic moved three points clear at the top of the Premiership by beating Ross County.

Avenging their recent League Cup semi-final defeat, Celtic moved ahead when Griffiths volleyed home in first-half stoppage time.

Griffiths had earlier hit the post as a host of good openings were spurned.

The hosts doubled their lead when defender Dedryck Boyata stretched to head in a Stuart Armstrong cross.

Interviews - Deila and Mcintyre

Griffiths is the fastest player to score 30 goals for the club in a season since former Sweden striker Henrik Larsson.

Facing the same opponents who beat them at Hampden at the end of January, and with their title credentials under scrutiny, the win was a necessity for manager Ronny Deila and his, at times, nervy side.

Celtic failed to convert and ease the tension in the opening exchanges, with some of the loudest shouts prior to Griffiths' typically clinical strike being for over-hit passes by Stefan Johansen and Armstrong.

Johansen was useful more than he was wasteful, though. The Norwegian threaded several through-balls, but the finishing did not do them justice.

Gary Mackay-Steven watched his shot pushed round the post by Scott Fox , while Griffiths did the hard work by rounding the Ross County keeper before seeing his low effort bounce back off the near post and into his arms.

As Celtic fans cried "Challenge him", Ross County gradually tried to pile on the pressure, and Jackson Irvine presented a threat with an 18-yard shot.

Dedryck Boyata headed Celtic into a 2-0 lead
Boyata connects with a Stuart Armstrong cross to head in Celtic's second goal

But just as Deila might have been wondering how to galvanise his players at the break, the left foot of Griffiths got the Parkhead side out of a hole.

Kieran Tierney's deep cross gave Chris Robertson problems and, under pressure from Johansen, the centre-back could only head into the path of the Scotland striker to score.

Home supporters thought Celtic had sealed the win midway through the second half when Boyata outmuscled Paul Quinn to head Armstrong's deep delivery high into the net. But there was a fright to come.

Erik Sviatchenko surrendered possession all too easily at the back, which let Michael Gardyne cross and almost set up Alex Schalk a tap in were it not for a desperate Nir Bitton clearance.

Near the jittery end, Jonathan Franks also made the Celtic back-line work hard as his rising shot had to be dealt with by a diving Craig Gordon.

Now it's over to nearest challengers Aberdeen to re-apply the pressure when they meet Inverness CT on Monday.

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 23Lustig
  • 20Boyata
  • 28SviatchenkoBooked at 40mins
  • 63Tierney
  • 6Bitton
  • 8Brown
  • 16Mackay-Steven
  • 25JohansenSubstituted forRogicat 76'minutesBooked at 87mins
  • 14ArmstrongSubstituted forForrestat 84'minutes
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forKazim-Richardsat 79'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Izaguirre
  • 13Kazim-Richards
  • 18Rogic
  • 21Mulgrew
  • 26Bailly
  • 42McGregor
  • 49Forrest

Ross County

  • 1Fox
  • 2FraserSubstituted forReckordat 82'minutes
  • 6RobertsonBooked at 23mins
  • 43QuinnSubstituted forMurdochat 65'minutes
  • 12Foster
  • 26Woods
  • 36Irvine
  • 8McShane
  • 17Franks
  • 7GardyneBooked at 31mins
  • 10BoyceSubstituted forSchalkat 61'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Reckord
  • 9Graham
  • 18Murdoch
  • 21Woods
  • 23Schalk
  • 24De Vita
  • 25Goodwillie
Referee:
Kevin Clancy
Attendance:
42,550

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamRoss County
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home14
Away6
Shots on Target
Home4
Away1
Corners
Home9
Away1
Fouls
Home17
Away11

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

    Delay in match Erik Sviatchenko (Celtic) because of an injury.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. Martin Woods (Ross County) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

  5. Booking

    Tomas Rogic (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Tomas Rogic (Celtic).

  7. Post update

    Michael Gardyne (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Colin Kazim-Richards (Celtic).

  9. Post update

    Jackson Irvine (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Michael Gardyne (Ross County) right footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jonathan Franks (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

  13. Post update

    Alex Schalk (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. James Forrest replaces Stuart Armstrong.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Tomas Rogic (Celtic).

  16. Post update

    Ian McShane (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Ross County. Jamie Reckord replaces Marcus Fraser because of an injury.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Nir Bitton (Celtic).

  19. Post update

    Jonathan Franks (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic25184366214558
2Aberdeen25174444261855
3Hearts24128445242144
4Ross County26103134042-233
5Dundee258983941-233
6St Johnstone2495103940-132
7Inverness CT237883032-229
8Hamilton2678113045-1529
9Partick Thistle237792228-628
10Kilmarnock2676132948-1927
11Motherwell2575132641-1526
12Dundee Utd2435162446-2214
View full Scottish Premiership table

Top Stories