Back to the Fixture – December 22nd

As we edge ever closer to the festive period, we’re continuing to invite you to feast on Celtic fixtures of years gone by before Friday’s eventual celebrations. Having only focused on hard-fought 1-0 wins over the past two days, to make up for it we’ve picked out a high-scoring affair this time. Take yourselves back eight years, when incidentally tomorrow’s opponents, Ross County, came to Paradise…

Neil Lennon was Celtic manager the last (and only) time Celtic have ever played ‘the Staggies’ on the 22nd. The Highland side were sent with their bags packing following a 4-0 loss, returning hapless straight back up the treacherous A9 just before the Christmas exchanges, and Lennon will be hoping his side can replicate that again tomorrow.

Celtic entered this one enduring some admittedly poor home form in the league; despite only being in December, Lennon’s men had already overseen losses to Kilmarnock and Inverness Caley Thistle, whilst also dropping further points at home to St Johnstone and Hibs.

Ross County were also given every reason to be spirited as they took to the field, based on past results against the Bhoys’; having drawn 1-1 with Celtic at the start of the season, there was a chance they could go one better.

Their tactics seemed to be paying off as the game entered the interval goalless, and the Staggies had a few decent chances, but Fraser Forster stood strong – and the storm was yet to come.

Just seconds after the restart, Broony – who at this point, would have been in close contention for a nosebleed given how high he was playing – beautifully took the ball into his stride before rifling the ball across goal to give Celtic the lead. From hereon in, the floodgates opened.

A sumptuous cross from forgotten man Lassad Nouioui found Gary Hooper unmarked just six yards out, and the Englishman gratefully lapped up his chance with a glancing header to put Celtic out of sight.

The man signed from Scunthorpe United then got his second of the day just ten minutes later with another headed effort; fan-favourite Big Vic Wanyama outleaped the County keeper and nodded the ball in to the six-yard box, to leave Hooper graciously accepting two of the easiest goals he’d manage in his tenure at Parkhead, despite the best efforts of the County defender on the line.

The rout was completed just six minutes later as James Forrest got in on the act – the winger came on for Beram Kayal ten minutes prior, and it was his pace in behind that was found by Hooper. One thing you don’t let James Forrest do is beat your offside trap, and once he managed that, Forrest coolly composed himself and slotted it into the bottom corner to signal a good day at the office for Lennon’s men.
The Celtic team that day was: Forster, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew, Izaguirre, Brown, Kayal (Forrest, 58), Wanyama, Samaras (Herron, 83), Nouioui (Watt, 75), Hooper.

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