CELTIC produced an excellent performance as they made it ten wins in a row since the defeat at Livingston. A brace from Ryan Christie in the first half either side of a Ross County equaliser had the Scottish Champions ahead at the break. Tom Rogic’s strike made it 3-1 before the man that replaced him, Mikey Johnston making it 4-1.
1.An early Sunday trip to the Highlands seemed particularly daunting, especially after the Europa League triumph over Rennes; however, it was Celtic’s Highlander that enjoyed the December sunshine in Dingwall. Ryan Christie continued his electric run with two goals in the first half. When Nick Walsh adjudged there to have been a foul on Lewis Morgan, the in-form Christie put the ball on the penalty spot.
Christie’s penalty was saved by Baxter but the midfielder followed up and had the ball in the net. His second goal came through intelligent running as Kris Ajer strung a pass between the County defence as Christie raced on to double his tally. Man of the Match said ‘Long May it Continue’ when asked about whether he was in the form of his life and said there was ‘more to come’, an ominous message ahead of the next run of fixtures. A vital player at the top of his game.
2. On the whole, Nick Walsh and his assistant referees got most decisions right. It was an excellent call by the Referee to spot the foul on Lewis Morgan that led to the Celtic penalty being given and then the referee did well to rule out Stewart’s late strike for Graham interfering in the play by blocking a retreating Christopher Jullien.
It was the correct call and even if County felt aggrieved, they can look at the challenge on Brown from Kelly in the box that went unnoticed as well as the push on Tom Rogic as Stewart drew the Highlanders level. Another incident whereby we could be critical of the officials could be after Johnston’s goal, his momentum takes him towards the away end, where a number of the Celtic faithful latched onto the winger. Walsh showed Johnston a yellow as he celebrated off the park, somewhat harshly.
3. Dominant Celts. County looked to set up to frustrate Celtic and they did it for large parts. Celtic finished the game with 70% possession, amassing 19 attempts on goal. From an attacking point of view, the return of four goals is ideal but Celtic had a few more chances that they’d have liked to convert, especially with the goal difference as important as it is at the moment.
The retention of the ball by Celtic’s midfield was impressive, the work-rate off the ball got the ball back and got the ball back into attack very quickly. This result proves that Celtic can bide their time and get goals against stubborn teams in tight, tough environments.
4. Edouard Injury Doubt – Neil Lennon confirmed on BBC Sportsound that Odsonne Edouard was a doubt for the Betfred Cup Final. This could prove to be a major blow, for all the work Lewis Morgan has done since coming in, as well as the returning Leigh Griffiths, they will struggle to replicate the talent of the Frenchman.
Not only are Celtic potentially missing French Eddy, but Olivier Ntcham failed to make the squad, as did Bolingoli, Hayes, Elyounoussi, Elhamed and Bayo. With such a vital game ahead next week, it is extremely worrying to see that we have some big players missing.
5. On the subject of players being potentially out, it was a relief to see Mikey Johnston settle back into affairs on Thursday night with a brilliantly worked goal versus Rennes. The tricky winger popped up and scored a wonderful goal to make it 4-1 to the Celts after a Greg Taylor pass put him in behind before the Scotland U21 player did the rest. Johnston’s return is surely a major boost to the player’s confidence and for Neil Lennon to see that he has someone ready to make an impact when called upon.