Sunday 24th April 2022. K.O. 2.30pm
Victoria Park, Dingwall.
ROSS CO. 0-2 CELTIC
Scorers: Kyogo (12) Jota (87)
A tricky game away to Dingwall was on the cards and for Celtic it was a must win with five fixtures remaining on the calendar. The points tally left us just three ahead of our rivals in second place after they managed to win yesterday but a victory would see us regain the six point lead.
Postecoglou per usual went with a very attack minded lineup and a starting slot for Kyogo was a great sight for Celtic fans. The Japanese striker came on for a cameo appearance against the rangers at Hampden but he had been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Boxing Day.
There was also a return to the team for Anthony Ralston after Juranović pulled up injured in the semi final and a start for O’Riley ahead of Tom Rogic who was on the bench with a fit again Giakoumakis.
The first half was totally dominated by the men in Hoops and it could easily have been 0-5 by Halftime but for some poor finishing and poor referee calls. Kyogo should have had at least four goals with him seeing a second chopped off for offside. A harsh call as it looked like the player was onside
Celtic had their first opportunity as early as two minutes when a Matt O’Riley corner dropped invitingly in the box for Kyogo but he was crowded out before he could get his shot away. It wasn’t long before The Bhoys took the lead and it was Kyogo who headed home in 12 minutes after a fine cross by Jota on the right wing.
Celtic were passing well all over the pitch and pressing high with McGregor and Jota pulling the strings to supply chances for the strikers. Kyogo had his second goal of the afternoon ruled offside when he looked to have stayed on for the pass. A few minutes later Jota again made a pin point delivery from the left that fell beautifully for Kyogo who volleyed it first time only for it to rattle the crossbar.
On 39 minutes Kyogo was played a visionary pass that left him one on one with the goalie who did fantastic to make a point blank save and keep the score down. A minute later and it was fine play when Kyogo and Maeda linked up with great passing but Kyogo blazed his effort just over the bar.
The last chance of the first half saw Jota cross from the right and an on running Maeda instantly volleyed but the Goalie Laidlow made another excellent save to thwart the Celtic striker. The worst thing about the first half performance was the actual scoreline and how the * it was still only 0-1.
There was no need for any changes to the team for the second half but we really needed to be more clinical. Starfelt was having a productive afternoon as he mopped up at the back and made several lung bursting runs with the ball to turn possession into attack. Carter-Vickers was also well tuned in as he refused County strikers a sniff of the ball.
Greg Taylor was another player that was playing out of his skin and obviously his confidence was up after his goal against rangers despite the result. The second goal could have arrived on 50 minutes for O’Riley. He outjumped his marker in the Ross County box to get his head on the ball only to see it headed off the goal line.
Ross County were having a short spell in the second half when they tried to actually attack and played some decent stuff but it wouldn’t last long. Their best effort was a shot from the edge of the box by White but it just flew past Joe Hart's right post.
Ange knew he needed to freshen things up when he made a triple substitution on 64 minutes. Maeda, O’Riley and Kyogo made way for Abada, Rogic and Giakoumakis. A minute later and Starfelt had a header cleared off the line as Celtic went looking to make the game safe as the second half was pretty tedious by the Hoops at times.
The second goal eventually arrived in 87 minutes and the relief from the stands and on the pitch was clear for all to see in the celebrations. Abada received the ball inside the box from a throw on the left. The Israeli was quick to see Giakoumakis who leaned back to get his shot away only to see it hit the crossbar. Luckily enough it landed perfectly for Jota to rifle into the net for 0-2.
There was time on 89 minutes for one more substitute when Jota made way for James Forrest but the points were already in the bag. The importance was not on performance for this game as it was just vital to get the three points but credit to the Bhoys because they stepped up to the mark and made the three points for themselves.
One down and four to go. Next Sunday sees another Glasgow Derby and this time it is at Celtic Park. Our hardest pick out of the games for me is the away day at Hearts and whilst we have been very successful there this season they will be all out to cause us damage in any way possible.
MOTM: Jota. It could have been Greg Taylor but the tricky Portuguese winger was the man who assisted the first goal and scored the second. His crosses into the box are mostly excellent and creates so much for us all over the pitch.
ROSS CO: Laidlow, Randall, Watson, Lacovitti, Vokins, Tillson, Callachan, Spittal, Paton, Charles-Cook, White. SUBS: Cancola, Samuel, Sims, Burroughs, Ramsay, Drysdale, Munro, Hungbo, Patton. (4-2-3-1)
CELTIC: Hart, Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, O’Riley, McGregor, Hatate, Jota, Kyogo, Maeda. SUBS: Scales, Giakoumakis, Abada, Turnbull, McCarthy, Rogic, Bain, Forrest, Welsh. (4-3-3)
POSSESSION: Ross Co. 26% Celtic 74%
SHOTS: Ross Co. 6 - 22 Celtic
SHOTS ON TARGET: Ross Co. 1 - 5 Celtic
PASSES: Ross Co. 214 - 588 Celtic
COMPLETION: Ross Co. 56% Celtic 88%