Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with an incisive victory against Ross County in Dingwall.

A header in either half from Virgil van Dijk gave the visitors a two-goal lead before County's Ivan Sproule fired in on the rebound in the 68th minute.

In the five-minute period that followed, Joe Ledley nodded in twice to put Celtic three ahead.

County had few chances in the match or a reply to Celtic's aerial dominance.

The win was Celtic's first in the league at Dingwall, and extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to seven points ahead of second-placed Aberdeen.

County continue to languish in the bottom half of the table with just 10 points, though they have games in hand on account of their last two league matches being abandoned.

Inside the opening five minutes, a Charlie Mulgrew corner was nodded down by Van Dijk, but an alert County defence cleared their lines.

The Dutchman went close with a powerful drive from the edge of the County penalty forcing keeper Mark Brown to make the save, then a similar effort from Celtic captain Scott Brown edged wide of the mark.

Neil Lennon's men struggled to unlock a stubborn County defence, with Georgios Samaras ruled out due to an injury picked up in the midweek champions League defeat by Ajax, and Kris Commons consigned to the bench.

James Forrest struggled to control a curling ball from Emilio Izaguirre in the 35th minute and sent his effort over the bar, then Mihael Kovacevic's header at the other end sailed over Fraser Forster's crossbar.

The opener arrived with four minutes of the first half remaining from the head of Van Dijk when Izaguirre linked up with Mulgrew on the left-hand side and crossed in for the big centre-half to rise above the County defence and nod in off the far post.

On the stroke of half-time, Nir Biton drilled a low effort straight towards the County goal, but Mark Brown smothered it comfortably.

Van Dijk continued to assert his authority on the game after the restart, imposing his presence in both halves of the pitch and testing the County defence at any opportunity with long-distance shots.

And it was only eight minutes after the interval when he added his second goal of the day with another fine header at the front post from a Mulgrew corner that eluded County keeper Brown.

Within minutes of coming on as a sub, Sproule pounced when Forster - who had been all but a spectator for the majority of the match - blocked a Stuart Kettlewell goal-bound shot, and the former Hibs man fired in to reduce the arrears.

No sooner had County pulled themselves back into the match than Celtic re-applied their two-goal lead through Ledley's first header of the day when Izaguirre crossed for the Welshman to nod in from six yards.

Barely three more minutes had expired when Ledley nodded in again, this time rising above the County defence to send a looping header over his shoulder past Brown.

Headers seemed to be the order of the day, and Biton tested Brown with one of his own that was tipped over the bar with 15 minutes of the match remaining.

In the final five minutes, Ledley was denied his hat-trick by Brown's left-hand post with a powerful shot that ricocheted out for a goal-kick, before being swapped for Derk Boerrigter.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (6)

Ross County

  • 01 Brown
  • 02 Kovacevic Booked (Saunders - 80' )
  • 23 Carey Booked (Maatsen - 66' )
  • 05 Boyd
  • 21 McLean
  • 06 Micic
  • 08 Brittain
  • 04 Kettlewell Booked
  • 18 Klok (Sproule - 66' )
  • 11 De Leeuw Booked
  • 10 Quinn

Substitutes

  • 03 Gordon
  • 07 Sproule
  • 14 Maatsen
  • 17 Ross
  • 19 Luckassen
  • 20 Fraser
  • 22 Saunders

Celtic

  • 01 Forster
  • 41 Fisher
  • 03 Izaguirre
  • 16 Ledley (Boerrigter - 85' )
  • 04 Ambrose
  • 05 van Dijk
  • 49 Forrest (Stokes - 71' )
  • 06 Biton (Rogic - 80' )
  • 20 Pukki
  • 08 Brown Booked
  • 21 Mulgrew

Substitutes

  • 10 Stokes
  • 11 Boerrigter
  • 15 Commons
  • 17 Baldé
  • 18 Rogic
  • 24 Zaluska
  • 46 McGeouch
Ref: Kevin Clancy
Att: 5,982

Match Stats

Shots

4 23

On target

2 8

Corners

1 6

Fouls

15 10

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Ross County 1, Celtic 4.

90:00 +2:11 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Ross County 1, Celtic 4.

90:00 +0:56

Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

90:00 +0:56

Foul by Ivan Sproule (Ross County).

84:49 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Derk Boerrigter replaces Joe Ledley.

83:25

Attempt saved. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

83:03

Joe Ledley (Celtic) hits the left post with a right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left.

80:35

Attempt missed. Teemu Pukki (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

79:19 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Ross County. Steve Saunders replaces Mihael Kovacevic.

79:03 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Tomas Rogic replaces Nir Biton.

76:43

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Mark Brown.

76:31

Attempt saved. Nir Biton (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

76:10

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Melvin De Leeuw.

73:50

Foul by Nir Biton (Celtic).

73:50

Darren Maatsen (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

73:18 Booking

Booking Scott Brown (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

72:49 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Ross County 1, Celtic 4. Joe Ledley (Celtic) header from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Darnell Fisher.

71:13 Booking

Booking Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

71:00

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

70:48

Foul by Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County).

70:35 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Anthony Stokes replaces James Forrest.

69:56 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Ross County 1, Celtic 3. Joe Ledley (Celtic) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Emilio Izaguirre.

68:52

Teemu Pukki (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

68:52

Foul by Rocco Quinn (Ross County).

67:12 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Ross County 1, Celtic 2. Ivan Sproule (Ross County) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Rocco Quinn.

65:36 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Ross County. Darren Maatsen replaces Graham Carey.

65:18 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Ross County. Ivan Sproule replaces Marc Klok.

63:34 Booking

Booking Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

62:17 Booking

Booking Graham Carey (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

62:11

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

62:11

Foul by Graham Carey (Ross County).

59:51

Foul by Darnell Fisher (Celtic).

59:51

Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

58:52

Foul by Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic).

58:52

Richard Brittain (Ross County) wins a free kick on the left wing.

58:04

Joe Ledley (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

58:04

Foul by Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County).

54:52

Attempt missed. Nir Biton (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

53:48

Foul by Darnell Fisher (Celtic).

53:48

Graham Carey (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

52:09 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Ross County 0, Celtic 2. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Charlie Mulgrew following a corner.

51:58

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Mark Brown.

51:46

Scott Brown (Celtic) hits the right post with a right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right.

50:14

Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Celtic).

50:14

Rocco Quinn (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

49:42

Attempt missed. Scott Brown (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

48:17

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

48:17

Foul by Graham Carey (Ross County).

46:01

Attempt missed. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

45:00

Second Half begins Ross County 0, Celtic 1.

45:00 +0:27 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Ross County 0, Celtic 1.

45:00 +0:12

Attempt saved. Nir Biton (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

43:12

Attempt missed. Scott Brown (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

42:05 Booking

Booking Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

42:00

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

42:00

Foul by Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County).

40:47 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Ross County 0, Celtic 1. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Emilio Izaguirre.

39:55

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Richard Brittain.

36:54

Attempt missed. Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is too high following a corner.

36:33

Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Darnell Fisher.

35:48

Attempt missed. James Forrest (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

32:03

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

32:03

Foul by Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County).

27:53

Attempt missed. Nir Biton (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is too high from a direct free kick.

27:12

Nir Biton (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

27:12

Foul by Graham Carey (Ross County).

26:28

Foul by Efe Ambrose (Celtic).

26:28

Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

26:06

Attempt blocked. Nir Biton (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

24:07

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

24:07

Foul by Rocco Quinn (Ross County).

18:55

Attempt missed. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) header from the centre of the box misses to the right from a direct free kick.

18:18

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

18:18

Foul by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

17:27

Darnell Fisher (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

17:27

Foul by Graham Carey (Ross County).

16:36

Foul by Nir Biton (Celtic).

16:36

Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

16:04

Attempt saved. Richard Brittain (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

14:43

Attempt blocked. Graham Carey (Ross County) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is blocked.

14:08

Foul by Nir Biton (Celtic).

14:08

Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

12:27

Attempt missed. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left following a corner.

12:05

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Graham Carey.

11:45

Attempt blocked. Scott Brown (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

11:25

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

11:25

Foul by Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County).

9:12

Foul by Darnell Fisher (Celtic).

9:12

Branislav Micic (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

8:31

Foul by Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic).

8:31

Rocco Quinn (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

7:51

Attempt saved. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

6:02

Nir Biton (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

6:02

Foul by Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County).

3:39

Efe Ambrose (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

3:39

Foul by Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County).

2:43

Attempt blocked. Virgil van Dijk (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is blocked.

2:16

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Scott Boyd.

2:03

Attempt blocked. Teemu Pukki (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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