Published: 18/11/2017 14:20 - Updated: 18/11/2017 14:25

Leigh Griffiths free-kick snatches Celtic win against spirited Ross County

Written byJamie Durent

Davis Keillor-Dunn netted his first senior goal in County's game with Hearts. Picture: Ken Macpherson.
Davis Keillor-Dunn came close in the first half. Picture: Ken Macpherson.

 

A LEIGH Griffiths free-kick denied Ross County a point as Celtic extended their unbeaten domestic run.

Griffiths struck on 77 minutes, floating a delightful free-kick into the top corner to deprive County of a point they would have thoroughly merited.

The game itself had little in the way of entertainment, with County remaining resolute and holding Celtic without a shot on target until the second half.

It was not until Griffiths' moment of brilliance that the game looked like swaying one way or the other, delivering a harsh outcome for County.

The Staggies were unchanged from the side that beat Motherwell 3-2 a fortnight ago. The only adjustment came on the bench, with Jamie Lindsay ineligible to play against his parent club. Kenny van der Weg returned.

Champions Celtic were looking to extend a run of 63 domestic games unbeaten – a national record – while County had only one league win against the Bhoys in their history, coming in a 3-2 victory in March 2013.

While Celtic dominated the early possession, as expected, County's Davis Keillor-Dunn was central to the home optimism.

He teased Michael Gardyne with a neat through ball that just outran his fellow winger, before meeting a pass from Craig Curran with a crisp, curling effort that lifted just over Craig Gordon's crossbar.

Aside from encouraging runs from Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor, Celtic were struggling to fashion too many opportunities. Aaron McCarey was commanding his area with confidence and looked unfazed by a penalty area packed with green-and-white jerseys.

There was little for him to do in the first half, with the navy blue rearguard in front of him doing a sterling job in crowding out Celtic around the 18-yard box.

Celtic were held without a shot on target in the first half, a mark of the defensive effort put in by the Staggies. Mikael Lustig glanced a McGregor corner into the side netting but County continued to hold them at bay, with Jim O'Brien in particular covering immense ground from the middle of the park.

Aaron McCarey was called upon late in the game. Picture: Ken Macpherson.
Aaron McCarey had little to deal with prior to the goal. Picture: Ken Macpherson.

 

Alex Schalk, who infamously hit the headlines in April for his theatrical tumble against Brendan Rodgers' side, was introduced and gave the home side more pace up front. But, aside from a tame Christopher Routis free-kick, chances were scarce.

However, a foul by O'Brien on Stuart Armstrong was to prove decisive with 13 minutes to go, as Griffiths took his moment to shine, delivering a free-kick reminiscent of his two against England to put the visitors ahead.

As the hosts committed more bodies forward gaps appeared, with Scott Sinclair and Olivier Ntcham both having shots blocked wide, but ultimately it was a hard-luck story for Owen Coyle's spirited side.

ROSS COUNTY: McCarey, Naismith, Fraser, Davies, Kelly, Routis, O'Brien (Mikkelsen, 82), Draper, Gardyne, Curran (Schalk, 62), Keillor-Dunn (Dow, 86). Subs unused: Munro, Chow, Mckay, van der Weg. Booked: Gardyne, O'Brien, Kelly.

CELTIC: Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Boyata, Tierney, Brown, Armstrong, Sinclair, McGregor (Griffiths, 65), Forrest (Hayes, 65), Dembele (Ntcham, 81). Subs unused: De Vries, Simunovic, Eboue, Edouard. Booked: Boyata, Tierney.

Attendance: 6590.

Referee: N Walsh.

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