Celtic moved to within touching distance of regaining their SPFL trophy after a comfortable 2-0 win against Ross County on Sunday. Goals from the returning Kyogo Furuhashi and Felipe Jota secured all three points in a scoreline that flattered Malky Mackay’s side.
Celtic’s talisman from the beginning of the season made his first start since Boxing Day and took only 12 minutes to remind the travelling support of what they had been missing. A terrific delivery from Jota on the right found Kyogo unmarked in the six yard box; the Japanese striker leapt superbly to meet the cross and power a header low beyond Ross Laidlaw in goal.
The Jota/Kyogo combination was so vital in keeping Celtic in a title race before the winter break and it was a pleasure to see both linking up once again, in arguably our toughest post-split fixture.
There was some pre-match nerves among the Celtic support after last weeks Hampden disappointment; this apprehension is only natural in what is Celtic’s first proper title race in more than a decade but this team under this manager were having none of it and put in a superb first half display to allay the fans fears.
A stream of chances were spurned after the opening goal with Kyogo squandering the best of these and really should have doubled the visitors lead after latching on to a loose ball after Laidlew fumbled a shot from Matt O’Riley.
The movement and pressing from Kyogo and Daizen Maeda was complimented by the guile and skill of Jota and caused the County defence endless problems all afternoon. Celtic’s dominance, however, wasn’t reflected in the scoreline and the score remained 1-0 at the interval.
As Celtic continued to be wasteful in the final third tension began to increase and the hosts confidence grew. In truth, Joe Hart’s goal was never seriously threatened, but a title race is a difficult place to find calm heads.
The points were finally secured in the 87th minute as substitute, Liel Abada, made up for an earlier missed chance by cutting back to Giorgios Giakoumakis who saw his effort hit the bar before Jota reacted quickest to stab home and restore Celtic’s six point lead at the top of the table with just four games remaining.
Ange Postecolglou was delighted with the reaction of his team after last week’s disappointment: “A difficult place to play against a difficult opponent and I thought we played really well.
“It feels like another important day for us, but every day is an important day for us and I’ve been saying that since week six. We’ve had to be almost perfect and players have been dealing with that every day.”
The Celtic Exchange Man of the Match: Jota
The mercurial winger had come in for a bit of stick after last weekends Hampden showing but he was back to his best in the Highlands as he tormented the Ross County back line throughout and ended the afternoon with a goal and assist
Celtic’s next match
Next up is another Glasgow derby as Ange and his team have the chance to all but clinch the Cinch in front of a packed Celtic Park against their bitter rivals. Bring it on.
CATCH ALL THE REACTION TO THE WIN V ROSS COUNTY AS WELL AS OUR FINAL GLASGOW DERBY PREVIEW OF THE SEASON ON THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE CELTIC EXCHANGE WEEKLY