Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic3Ross CountyRoss County0

Celtic 3-0 Ross County: Hosts needed 'perseverance' to break down stubborn away side

By Nick McPheatBBC Scotland
Ajeti header v County
Albian Ajeti's first goals since February sealed the three points for Celtic

Manager Ange Postecoglou said Celtic required "perseverance" to earn a hard-fought Scottish Premiership win against a stubborn Ross County.

County frustrated the hosts until the 64th minute, when debutant centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers' long-range strike deflected over Ross Laidlaw.

Albian Ajeti headed in six minutes later to kill the game, before nodding in a third to lift Celtic to fifth.

"We needed a goal to open to them up," Postecoglou said.

"When you don't get it, it gives them confidence and they defended well. We've seen in other games if we score early it opens the game up. The info we gave to the whole group at half-time was 'stick to our principles'."

County drop to 11th and are still without a league win this term.

But Malky Mackay will be encouraged by his side's shape and organisation for over an hour of the contest.

As for Celtic, Postecoglou's men put distractions surrounding chief executive Dom McKay's shock departure to one side as they eventually broke down a resolute visiting defence to secure a third straight home league win.

The hosts also had to deal with the absence of Kyogo Furuhashi, who is out for at least a month with a knee injury.

Expectation was placed on the shoulders of debutant winger Jota and he was living up to the hype early on, having a shot from distance saved and a close-range effort sail over either side of Liel Abada having an attempt parried onto the bar.

Celtic continued to probe and a free-flowing breakaway resulted in Ajeti having a tame effort saved, before David Turnbull put a 25-yard effort just wide of the near post.

County put in a power of relentless work to limit Celtic's chances and began to pose a threat of their own when Blair Spittal fired in a dangerous cross to no avail, and Jack Burroughs then lashed wide when a cross was the better option.

Up the other end, Abada struck the woodwork again with a deflected effort before firing a near-post finish into the side net. And there was a sense that a bit of frustration was creeping in, with Abada, Josip Juranovic and Jota firing efforts off target.

It seemed it would take something special or fortuitous to break County down and it was the latter as Cameron-Vickers' deflected effort looped over a helpless Laidlaw.

County did not go down without a fight as Joe Hart had to pull off a smart save to deny substitute Dominic Samuel's header, but the contest was over when Abada's inch-perfect delivery was headed in by Ajeti.

The Swiss striker added his second, and Celtic's third, when he nodded in a close-range rebound.

Man of the match - Jota

The Portuguese winger will be disappointed he failed to score a debut goal, but the 22-year-old can still be happy with his afternoon's work after being at the heart of Celtic's positive attacking play
The Portuguese winger will be disappointed he failed to score a debut goal, but the 22-year-old can still be happy with his afternoon's work after being at the heart of Celtic's positive attacking play

What did we learn?

Celtic did not allow the media circus around McKay's departure, Kyogo's absence, and a stubborn County to derail their day.

Their past two home league games have seen Postecoglou's side dismantle Dundee and St Mirren 6-0, but they had to show a patient side of their game on Saturday to gain three valuable points.

County's start to the season has been unforgiving, with their first five league games coming against last season's top five.

It was looking bleak for Mackay, but a valuable point at Aberdeen a fortnight ago and a promising display for large spells at Celtic will give the County boss hope going into a home game against Hearts next Saturday.

What did they say?

Ross County manager Malky Mackay: "I've got a sense of disappointment, but we've got to get over that. The game plan was working.

"In the first half we had a couple of chances across their goal that on another day we might be more clinical with. But I'm seeing a group that are beginning to grow and play the way I want them to."

What's next?

Celtic go to Seville to face Real Betis on Thursday (17:45 BST) in their opening Europa League game, before a trip to Livingston in the league next Sunday (15:00). County are at home to Hearts next Saturday (15:00).

Player of the match

WhiteJordan White

with an average of 8.13

Celtic

  1. Squad number54Player nameMontgomery
    Average rating

    7.58

  2. Squad number16Player nameMcCarthy
    Average rating

    7.22

  3. Squad number12Player nameSoro
    Average rating

    7.02

  4. Squad number10Player nameAjeti
    Average rating

    6.65

  5. Squad number17Player nameJota
    Average rating

    6.57

  6. Squad number20Player nameCarter-Vickers
    Average rating

    6.42

  7. Squad number18Player nameRogic
    Average rating

    6.16

  8. Squad number4Player nameStarfelt
    Average rating

    6.08

  9. Squad number88Player nameJuranovic
    Average rating

    5.95

  10. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull
    Average rating

    5.95

  11. Squad number15Player nameHart
    Average rating

    5.73

  12. Squad number3Player nameTaylor
    Average rating

    5.71

  13. Squad number11Player nameAbada
    Average rating

    5.68

  14. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor
    Average rating

    3.91

Ross County

  1. Squad number26Player nameWhite
    Average rating

    8.13

  2. Squad number17Player nameCharles-Cook
    Average rating

    8.05

  3. Squad number8Player nameCallachan
    Average rating

    7.80

  4. Squad number9Player nameSamuel
    Average rating

    6.99

  5. Squad number24Player namePaton
    Average rating

    6.89

  6. Squad number7Player nameSpittal
    Average rating

    6.67

  7. Squad number18Player nameBurroughs
    Average rating

    6.65

  8. Squad number20Player nameClarke
    Average rating

    6.49

  9. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw
    Average rating

    6.43

  10. Squad number22Player nameTillson
    Average rating

    6.39

  11. Squad number5Player nameBaldwin
    Average rating

    6.35

  12. Squad number6Player namePaton
    Average rating

    6.22

  13. Squad number10Player nameSamuel
    Average rating

    5.20

  14. Squad number15Player nameWatson
    Average rating

    5.03

Line-ups

Celtic

Formation 4-3-3

  • 15Hart
  • 88Juranovic
  • 20Carter-Vickers
  • 4Starfelt
  • 3TaylorSubstituted forMontgomeryat 48'minutes
  • 18RogicSubstituted forMcCarthyat 78'minutes
  • 42McGregorSubstituted forSoroat 68'minutes
  • 14Turnbull
  • 11Abada
  • 10Ajeti
  • 17Neves Filipe

Substitutes

  • 12Soro
  • 16McCarthy
  • 26Urhoghide
  • 29Bain
  • 30Shaw
  • 54Montgomery
  • 57Welsh

Ross County

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 18BurroughsSubstituted forWatsonat 73'minutes
  • 20Clarke
  • 5Baldwin
  • 24PatonBooked at 61mins
  • 7Spittal
  • 22Tillson
  • 9SamuelSubstituted forPatonat 45'minutes
  • 8Callachan
  • 17Charles-Cook
  • 26WhiteSubstituted forSamuelat 63'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Cancola
  • 6Paton
  • 10Samuel
  • 11Robertson
  • 15Watson
  • 23Hungbo
  • 31Maynard-Brewer
Referee:
Don Robertson

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamRoss County
Possession
Home77%
Away23%
Shots
Home21
Away5
Shots on Target
Home8
Away2
Corners
Home7
Away0
Fouls
Home9
Away8

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Celtic 3, Ross County 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Celtic 3, Ross County 0.

  3. Post update

    Offside, Ross County. Keith Watson tries a through ball, but Dominic Samuel is caught offside.

  4. Post update

    Offside, Ross County. Keith Watson tries a through ball, but Ross Callachan is caught offside.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Jota (Celtic).

  6. Post update

    Keith Watson (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Attempt saved. Harrison Paton (Ross County) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ross Callachan.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Ismaila Soro (Celtic).

  9. Post update

    Dominic Samuel (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Adam Montgomery (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Blair Spittal (Ross County).

  12. Goal!

    Goal! Celtic 3, Ross County 0. Albian Ajeti (Celtic) header from very close range to the centre of the goal.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. James McCarthy (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by David Turnbull with a cross.

  14. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Liel Abada (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  15. Post update

    Ismaila Soro (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Regan Charles-Cook (Ross County).

  17. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Blair Spittal (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ross Callachan.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. James McCarthy replaces Tomas Rogic.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. David Turnbull (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Liel Abada.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Tomas Rogic (Celtic).

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