Saturday 22 October 2016

Griffiths double helps Celtic ease their European woes

Ross county1 Celtic 4

Roddy Forsyth

Published 09/11/2015 | 02:30

Ross County's Scott Boyd (Right) in action with Celtic's Tom Rogi
Ross County's Scott Boyd (Right) in action with Celtic's Tom Rogi
Ross County's Tony Dingwall (left) and Celtic's James Forrest compete for the ball during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match
Celtic manager Ronny Deila with assistant manager John Collins
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths celebrates scoring their second goal against Ross County

Celtic restored their ascendancy in the Scottish Premiership with this emphatic victory. A dark afternoon in the Highlands was illuminated by a quick double from Leigh Griffiths, who took his tally to 14 league goals.

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Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton also contributed for Celtic, with Tony Dingwall's strike for the home side offering little comfort to Jim McIntyre.

"To lose four goals was harsh on us considering all we did in the game, but as I've been saying for a few weeks, I would be more worried if we weren't creating chances," said the Ross County manager.

Ronny Deila, the Celtic manager, felt his players had experienced minimal discomfort. "County had one header in the first half, but there was more from them later and it is irritating to concede when you are 3-0 up," he said.

For Celtic, victory helped soothe European disappointment. Thursday's 2-1 defeat by Molde left Celtic unable to call upon Jozo Simunovic or Kris Commons.

James Forrest replaced Commons, but the sight that most animated the visiting support was of Carlton Cole, when the former West Ham striker came out with the other substitutes for the warm-up.

County were also tasked with recovering from a setback in their most recent outing, when they became only the second team to lose a league game to Dundee United and the Staggies were intent on containing the champions.

It worked well enough for all but seven minutes of a first half in which Celtic commanded 70pc of possession. It did not translate into a lead until Rogic battered directly at the County door and succeeded in tearing it off his hinges with a drive past Gary Woods from beyond the box.

Jackson Irvine should have equalised before half-time, when he snapped at a dropping ball a few yards out. But Griffiths added to his tally with two strikes within as many minutes.

Both goals inflicted scars on Scott Boyd. First, he slipped inside the County box and Griffiths pounced to shoot left-footed away from Woods. From the restart, the home side lost possession and Boyd was left trailing Forrest when the winger knocked the ball around him on the halfway line and scampered off with it all the way to the penalty area, where his cut-back was swept home tidily by Griffiths.

On the hour, Irvine held up play for Dingwall to place a forceful finish past Craig Gordon. Griffiths, though, had another card to play, with a cross for Bitton to direct a looping header into the far corner.

Celtic were able to amble through the last few minutes with 10 men as Forrest departed suffering from cramp, after Deila had sent on his quota of substitutes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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