Celtic 2-0 Ross County: Home side move three points clear at the top of the Premiership
By Charlie McFaulds
Last Updated: 13/02/16 5:24pm
Celtic stretched their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to three points after a comfortable 2-0 victory over Ross County.
Leigh Griffiths scored in the final minute of the opening half after earlier missing an open goal, before Dedryck Boyata sealed the win 12 minutes after the break.
The Hoops went into the match level on points with Aberdeen, who do not play until Monday, and with many critics gunning for manager Ronny Deila.
But Celtic looked in the mood from the start of the match and pressed forward to win a succession of early corners in which Mikael Lustig came close with a header from Stuart Armstrong's delivery.
County goalkeeper Scott Fox then turned a low shot from Gary Mackay-Steven round the post after Stefan Johansen burst forward to set up the winger.
At the other end of the pitch, Jackson Irvine curled a shot from just outside the penalty area a couple of inches wide when Ricky Foster crossed the ball beyond Nir Bitton.
Griffiths had a scissor-kick blocked in front of goal after Fox fumbled at a corner and Armstrong later had his volley blocked after Lustig delivered into the box as the home side responded.
The visitors survived a major scare on 36 minutes when Griffiths was sent clear by Johansen and rounded the advancing Fox, only to shoot against the near post with the goal at his mercy.
But Griffiths hit his 30th goal of the campaign when a Kieran Tierney cross was only half cleared by the head of Chris Robertson and the striker pounced to smack a crisp shot into the far corner from the left side of the box.
Five minutes after the break, Johansen again split the Ross County defence with a weighted pass to Mackay-Steven and the winger fired just over the target.
Celtic increased their advantage on 57 minutes when Armstrong skipped past a defender and chipped a cross to the back post for Boyata to nod over the line from four yards.
Erik Sviatchenko should have increased the lead when he got up at the back post to meet an Armstrong corner inside the six-yard box, but headed over the bar.
The Celtic defender then gifted possession the Michael Gardyne inside his own half and his forward pass to Liam Boyce was quickly delivered across the face of goal by the Irishman, but Bitton turned the ball behind for a corner.
County posed more of a threat eight minutes from time when Craig Gordon produced a superb one-handed save to claw away a net-bound shot from Jonathan Franks before Ian McShane blasted the rebound over the target.