Scottish Premiership: Celtic open up three-point lead at top with win at Ross County
Last Updated: 25/01/15 2:58pm
Celtic increased their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to three points with a 1-0 victory over Ross County at Victoria Park.
Spirited County defended resolutely throughout the match but were undone by the lively Kris Commons seven minutes after half-time.
The home side almost snatched a goal with just four minutes on the clock after Nir Bitton lost possession near the halfway line to Craig Curran, who strode forward 10 yards and thundered a dipping shot inches wide of the upright.
Celtic responded when Emilio Izaguirre and Scott Brown exchanged passes on the left side of the penalty area but the defender’s cross to the back post was just too high for Commons who sent his header from three yards over the target on the stretch.
County were then opened up when Liam Henderson took a short pass from Scott Brown and pitched the ball to the far edge of the box where Izaguirre had ghosted in behind the defence to clip his shot over the advancing 'keeper and the bar.
The Celtic left-back was involved again in his own penalty area as he headed clear at the back post under pressure from Curran shortly before Graham Carey’s dipping shot from 25 yards spun off goalkeeper Craig Gordon to safety.
At the other end the grounded Scott Boyd blocked a net-bound Commons volley from just outside the box and Antonio Reguero then got across to his right post to keep out a free-kick from the midfielder from the 18-yard line.
Ross County survived a major scare four minutes after the interval when the advancing Reguero blocked a shot from Leigh Griffiths inside the box and when the ball broke to John Guidetti, his rebounded effort was blocked by Jamie Reckford’s shoulder.
The breakthrough came three minutes later, though, after Guidetti laid a short pass back to Commons, who took a step to his right before dispatching a shot from 25 yards which looped over Reguero and under the bar after the ball deflected off Paul Quinn.
Celtic came close again when a corner dropped to Henderson just outside the box and his half-volley was flicked over the bar by Guidetti’s right foot.
Commons then exchanged passes with Guidetti and knocked the ball past Reguero but Boyd cleared the danger before the midfielder could turn his shot towards the empty net.
Liam Boyce sent a low drive narrowly wide of the far post after winning a tussle with Adam Matthews on the edge of the penalty area as County pushed for an equaliser.
With six minutes remaining Boyd hit the ball on the drop from 20 yards as Celtic only half-cleared a free-kick, but Gordon got down to hold the shot on his six-yard line.
Gordon again came to the rescue for Celtic to save a header from Quinn, who beat his marker to a Darren Maatsen free-kick on 90 minutes.