Celtic 2-0 Ross County: Stuart Armstrong helps extend Hoops' lead to 16 points
Last Updated: 29/12/16 8:38am
Celtic will head to Ibrox on Hogmanay 16 points clear of Rangers and unbeaten domestically this season following a 2-0 home win over Ross County on Wednesday night.
While the Staggies put in a decent first-half showing, Hoops centre-back Erik Sviatchenko fired the home side ahead from distance in the 38th minute before midfielder Stuart Armstrong added a second in first-half added time.
Brendan Rodgers' side cruised through the second half to improve further their impressive statistics.
With their 14th consecutive Premiership win, the seemingly unstoppable Parkhead side extended their unbeaten run in Scottish football to 23 matches at the halfway point of the league campaign.
Aside from their healthy points advantage over second-placed Rangers, the league leaders have a game in hand over the Light Blues, who drew 1-1 at St Johnstone and who will have to come up with something special to halt the Hoops.
Midfielder Martin Woods and forward Alex Schalk returned for County, who were feisty in the opening exchanges.
In the 23rd minute, a well-worked counter-attack saw Woods break clear after taking a clever pass from Schalk and slip in Liam Boyce but with only Parkhead goalkeeper Craig Gordon to beat, the Northern Irishman fired low past the far post.
Three minutes later, however, Celtic passed up on an even better chance when winger Scott Sinclair headed a terrific cross from left-back Emilio Izaguirre past the post from right in front of goal.
The opening goal came out of the blue and from an unlikely source.
There seemed no imminent danger when Sviatchenko moved forward with the ball at his feet but the Denmark defender caught everyone by surprise, including County keeper Scott Fox, when he drilled a shot from 35 yards into the bottom corner of the net for his first goal of the season.
County could have felt peeved to be going in at the interval one goal behind but in the second added minute, Armstrong, who scored with a fantastic strike in the 3-0 win at Hamilton on Christmas Eve, took a pass from right-back Mikael Lustig and turned County's Tim Chow at least twice before firing a left-footed shot from 16 yards past Fox.
Sky Sports Month Pass for just £20
New customer winter madness offer: Sky Sports Month Pass for just £20
That goal put the Parkhead side firmly in control and the second half became a procession towards the Staggies' goal.
Rodgers' side finished with plenty left in the tank and will relish the prospect of facing their old foes in the final game of the year.