CELTIC piled on the pressure in the Premiership race by defeating Ross County 3-0 at Celtic Park this afternoon after surviving some serious scares as the Highlanders continually tore through the Celtic defence to create numerous outstanding chances.
A Christopher Jullien downward header in the early stages was gathered on the goal line but other than that Celtic’s third formation in three games was looking as lacklustre and ineffectual as the last time was saw the 4-2-3-1 at the end of last year.
This time it was Moritz Bauer who was creating down the right firing in several decent crosses which were lapped up by the giant Highlanders leaving Leigh Griffiths a frustrated figure in the penalty area.
If that was all the threat Celtic had despite having the vast majority of possession and territorial advantage, it was the visitors who carved three stunning opportunities and managed to miss them all. On another day Celtic could have found themselves a few goals down as half time approached.
Yet just as we were looking for the interval and a chance for a rethink Mikey Johnson was pushed in the back inside the area leaving Kevin Clancy with little choice, it was a clear cut penalty although for Ross County a ridiculous one to concede.
Callum McGregor rather than Leigh Griffiths stepped forward and found the bottom right hand corner to give Celtic a vital lead.
There was no sign of Kris Ajer or Jeremie Frimpong after playing on the plastic in midweek and Odsonne Edouard was names as a substitute after limping off against Kilmarnock.
The Frenchman replaced Griffiths after an hour and that meant a change in corner taking duties too. Griffiths deliveries had been decent but County were resolute and dealt with the threat of Jullien who was looking for a repeat of his Rugby Park beauty.
Yet with McGregor swinging in the next corner there was Odsonne Edouard three yards from goal and somehow unmarked to head comfortably into the net to double Celtic’s lead.
The Celtic players seemed to get a lift from the introduction of their talisman to proceeding and players like Mikey Johnston and James Forrest seemed to come alive in the game.
Forrest drove into the County half and found Edouard who showed his trademark quick feet and wonderful feet combination before finishing off the move and the game with a deadly strike into the bottom corner.
Edouard then combined with Johnson to rip the packed County defence apart by with a goal looking almost certain the winger got caught in two minds between shooting himself or squaring for Forrest for a tap in, did neither and a fourth goal was denied.
So 3-0 it ended. Odsonne Edouard got man of the match for his half hour. Leigh Griffiths alongside Edouard is appealing, on his own with two wingers and two full backs all throwing in high balls for him is both frustrating and fruitless.
You get the feeling that it’s not only the Rangers who have sussed the 4-2-3-1. This could have gone horribly wrong today but it didn’t, we are five points clear and Hearts – fighting for their Premiership lives – might have a say in how the top of the table looks tomorrow.
The Celtic Star Man of the Match – birthday Bhoy Moritz Bauer.
SUPPORT CELTIC, SUPPORT CELTIC POOLS
Help raise money for Celtic Youth Development by joining the £1 weekly lottery and you could win up to £25,000 – just click on any one of the photographs below to join. Lots of our readers have already done so and they’re now doing their bit to help fund Celtic Youth Development that can deliver the stars of tomorrow and beyond. And you might even win a few bob too!