Leigh Griffiths makes it 2-0 to Celtic
Griffiths makes it 2-0 to Celtic an hour into a one-sided contest

Leigh Griffiths scored on his first Scottish Premiership start of the season as Celtic eased to victory over Ross County.

The Scotland striker looped a well-placed header in from a Ryan Christie cross to add to a first-half strike from David Turnbull.

Celtic stay 16 points behind Rangers, having played three fewer matches.

Bottom-of-the-table County battled diligently under new manager John Hughes but seldom threatened.

The clamour to remove Neil Lennon reached fever pitch following a League Cup defeat at home against County last month, but the pressure on the Celtic manager has eased in recent weeks.

Sunday’s dramatic Scottish Cup success completed a quadruple treble of trophies and the champions are now five games unbeaten in all competitions.

There were further signs of improvement in this one-sided contest, too. Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard were paired together up front, with the Frenchman given a freer role to go looking for the ball.

Both were lively, with Edouard shooting just wide in the first half and Griffiths squandering two good chances shortly before he got his goal.

That arrived on the hour when he was given time to steer home a delivery from the right from Christie.

Griffiths, who scored as an extra-time substitute and tucked in a shoot-out penalty against Hearts, had earlier delayed a good shooting opportunity, while Ross Laidlaw saved after an appalling back-pass from Iain Vigurs presented Griffiths with a one-on-one.

The breakthrough had come after 24 minutes when Jeremie Frimpong turned Josh Reid inside out before his cut-back from the bye-line was turned in by Turnbull.

County spent most of the time defending their own penalty area but did have one good sight of goal early on, when Ross Stewart glanced a header wide.

The visitors then lost their top scorer to injury before the interval and offered little in attack thereafter.

Man-of-the-match – David Turnbull

David Turnbull steers in the opening goal for Celtic
Turnbull steered in the opening goal and was constantly probing for openings in the final third

What did we learn?

Griffiths and Edouard have proven their prowess as a partnership before and, while the former was undoubtedly rusty, he got a valuable 80-minutes under his belt and tucked away his fifth goal of the season with a calm assurance.

With County sitting deep, Turnbull and Christie were busy as the champions looked for gaps in a packed defence, although some of the play out from the back remains a bit ponderous.

The home defence were rarely troubled but a clean sheet will be welcome and there were no signs of the panic witnessed at Hampden on Sunday and in several other outings this season.

What did they say?

‘There was a good zest about us’ – Celtic boss Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “It’s another step in the right direction. I thought we should have won the game by a lot more but I’m very pleased with the freshness the boys who came in today brought to the team. The was a good zest about us.”

Ross County manager John Hughes: “Our organisation, the distances between players, our willingness to get stuck in and fight for the cause; I think that was evident. The disappointment is I’d like to have created more chances, laid a glove on them a little bit, and I’d like to have been better on the ball.”

‘It all starts with hard work’ – County boss Hughes

What next?

Celtic visit Hamilton Academical on Boxing Day (15:00 GMT), while Ross County are at home to St Mirren (15:00) looking to end a run of 11 league games without victory.

Player of the match

LaidlawRoss Laidlaw

with an average of 6.67

Celtic

  1. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull

    Average rating

    5.85

  2. Squad number9Player nameGriffiths

    Average rating

    5.43

  3. Squad number12Player nameSoro

    Average rating

    5.42

  4. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor

    Average rating

    5.36

  5. Squad number19Player nameJohnston

    Average rating

    5.33

  6. Squad number17Player nameChristie

    Average rating

    5.32

  7. Squad number65Player nameHazard

    Average rating

    5.26

  8. Squad number30Player nameFrimpong

    Average rating

    5.24

  9. Squad number35Player nameAjer

    Average rating

    5.19

  10. Squad number93Player nameLaxalt

    Average rating

    5.15

  11. Squad number18Player nameRogic

    Average rating

    5.13

  12. Squad number2Player nameJullien

    Average rating

    5.00

  13. Squad number22Player nameEdouard

    Average rating

    4.95

  14. Squad number21Player nameNtcham

    Average rating

    4.93

  15. Squad number10Player nameAjeti

    Average rating

    4.75

Ross County

  1. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw

    Average rating

    6.67

  2. Squad number43Player nameReid

    Average rating

    6.63

  3. Squad number5Player nameMorris

    Average rating

    6.59

  4. Squad number18Player nameKelly

    Average rating

    6.58

  5. Squad number8Player nameShaw

    Average rating

    6.57

  6. Squad number24Player namePaton

    Average rating

    6.55

  7. Squad number6Player nameDraper

    Average rating

    6.55

  8. Squad number16Player nameIacovitti

    Average rating

    6.51

  9. Squad number11Player nameVigurs

    Average rating

    6.48

  10. Squad number15Player nameWatson

    Average rating

    6.46

  11. Squad number7Player nameGardyne

    Average rating

    6.42

  12. Squad number27Player nameStewart

    Average rating

    6.42

  13. Squad number14Player nameHylton

    Average rating

    6.18

  14. Squad number22Player nameTillson

    Average rating

    5.28

  15. Squad number9Player nameMckay

    Average rating

    5.09

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 65Hazard
  • 30Frimpong
  • 2Jullien
  • 35Ajer
  • 93Laxalt
  • 12Soro
  • 17ChristieSubstituted forRogicat 72′minutes
  • 14TurnbullSubstituted forNtchamat 71′minutes
  • 42McGregor
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forAjetiat 81′minutes
  • 22EdouardSubstituted forJohnstonat 72′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Barkas
  • 3Taylor
  • 6Bitton
  • 10Ajeti
  • 11Klimala
  • 18Rogic
  • 19Johnston
  • 21Ntcham
  • 27Elyounoussi

Ross County

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 15Watson
  • 5Morris
  • 16Iacovitti
  • 43Reid
  • 24Paton
  • 6DraperSubstituted forTillsonat 76′minutes
  • 11VigursSubstituted forMckayat 76′minutes
  • 18Kelly
  • 7GardyneSubstituted forHyltonat 45′minutes
  • 27StewartSubstituted forShawat 34′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Tremarco
  • 8Shaw
  • 9Mckay
  • 14Hylton
  • 22Tillson
  • 25Donaldson
  • 31Munro
  • 44Wright
  • 46Williamson

Referee:
Euan Anderson

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Celtic 2, Ross County 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Celtic 2, Ross County 0.

  3. Attempt saved. Jermaine Hylton (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  4. Foul by Ismaila Soro (Celtic).

  5. Oli Shaw (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Attempt saved. Oli Shaw (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Billy Mckay with a headed pass.

  7. Attempt saved. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Michael Johnston.

  8. Offside, Ross County. Stephen Kelly tries a through ball, but Callum Morris is caught offside.

  9. Foul by Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic).

  10. Oli Shaw (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  11. Substitution, Celtic. Albian Ajeti replaces Leigh Griffiths.

  12. Offside, Celtic. Olivier Ntcham tries a through ball, but Leigh Griffiths is caught offside.

  13. Attempt blocked. Michael Johnston (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tomas Rogic.

  14. Foul by Leigh Griffiths (Celtic).

  15. Callum Morris (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Substitution, Ross County. Jordan Tillson replaces Ross Draper.

  17. Substitution, Ross County. Billy Mckay replaces Iain Vigurs.

  18. Foul by Tomas Rogic (Celtic).

  19. Iain Vigurs (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Attempt blocked. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jeremie Frimpong.

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