Sunday, October 25, 2020
(Ferguson 45, 90, Hedges 65)
McGregor 52, Griffiths 76, Christie 78)
CELTIC could only take a point away from their trip to Pittodrie following a 3-3 draw with Aberdeen. Celtic twice came from behind but a stoppage-time penalty allowed the home side to draw level right at the death.
Lewis Ferguson’s first-half penalty gave the Dons the lead at the break but Callum McGregor equalised early in the second half. Ryan Hedges bundled in Aberdeen’s second but substitute Leigh Griffiths scored a fantastic goal to make it 2-2. Ryan Christie put the Hoops ahead from the penalty spot and Ferguson followed suit for his team in added time.
Celtic started with a good tempo and pressured the Aberdeen full-backs in the wide areas but chances were at a premium in the early stages.
Olivier Ntcham had the first real sight on goal and gave Joe Lewis a scare with his powerful shot from 30-yards that clipped the outside of the post.
Christie came close to scoring after a quick turn inside the box opened up enough space for him to get a shot off but Jonny Hayes managed to block the ball on its path towards goal.
Celtic increased the pressure as the first half wore on and looked increasingly likely to score. On the half-hour mark, Christie curled a good cross in towards the back post but it was just out of reach for Albian Ajeti.
Aberdeen were fortunate not to concede from a quick Celtic break after Christie released Mohamed Elyounoussi down the left channel with an excellent through ball. The Norwegian drilled a cross into the box, finding Rogic but the Dons intercepted his pass to Ajeti who was readying a shot 10-yards from goal.
The home side hadn’t tested Scott Bain in for almost the entirety of the first half but Ferguson was brought down by Ntcham inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. The Dons midfielder converted the penalty in the 45th minute to give his side the lead going into the break.
Celtic came out for the second half in full flight as they set about their opponents in search of an equaliser. It didn’t take long for the goal to come thanks to some wonderful individual play for stand-in captain Callum McGregor who started and finished the move.
The midfielder received Frimpongs throw-in 35 yards from goal ad quickly burst forward, dribbling beyond one challenge before linking up with Rogic. The Australian played a perfectly weighted return pass into the box and McGregor cut inside and tucked the ball under Lewis in the Aberdeen goal.
Celtic maintained their pressure on their opponents following the goal but it was Aberdeen who scored the next goal. Shane Duffy’s clearance was closed down by Scott Wright down the left-hand side. He quickly fed the ball to Sam Cosgrove inside the box who had time to turn and shoot. Bain saved the shot but Hedges rushed in to tuck the ball over the line.
Neil Lennon responded to the goal by bringing Scott Brown on for Ntcham and replacing Ajeti with Griffiths. Celtic continued to push for another goal and it almost came when Christie got on the end of Rogic’s out-swinging cross into the box. He poked the ball goalward but it was directly into the hands of the keeper.
Griffiths’s introduction proved to be a crucial change with the 30-year-old drawing Celtic level with less than 15 minutes to go. Rogic rolled the ball to the feet of his team-mate and Griffiths’ touch took him away from Ash Taylor, giving him the space to lash the ball into the far corner with a wonderful left-footed strike.
With the momentum behind them, Celtic kept their foot down and took the lead for the first time in the game just two minutes after Griffiths’ crucial equaliser.
A quick break away from the champions saw Mohamed Elyounoussi get in front of Tommie Hoban and the Dons defender sent Elyounoussi sprawling on the turf with a clumsy challenge. Christie stepped up and sent Lewis the wrong way to put the champions in front.
It looked as if Celtic would deservedly take all three points, however the Hoops were dealt a blow in injury time when Connor McLennan had his leg swiped away by Callum McGregor. The ball broke to Sam Cosgrove, who rifled a shot against the crossbar before the referee awarded the spot-kick.
Ferguson slotted the ball to Bain’s left-hand side to make it 3-3 and the final whistle blew moments later to conclude the game.
Celtic: Bain; Duffy, Ajeti (Griffiths 68), Christie, Rogic (Turnbull 84), Ntcham (Brown 69), Elyounoussi, Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Laxalt
Subs: Hazard, Taylor, Klimala, Soro, Ralston, Welsh.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Hoban, Taylor, Considine, Hedges, Ferguson, McCrorie, McGeouch (McLennan 27), Hayes, Watkins (Wright 56), Edmondson (Cosgrove 58)
Subs: Woods, Logan, Ojo, McGinn, Leigh, Kennedy.
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, October 17, 2020
(Goldson 8 & 53)
It was a disappointing afternoon at Paradise for Celtic as they lost 2-0 in the first Glasgow derby of the season. Goals in either half for Conor Goldson gave the visitors the victory and all three points.
In an empty Celtic Park, Neil Lennon’s side carved out their first chance of the game on six minutes following good work from Callum McGregor. He surged down the left wing, evading a couple of challenges, but his cutback into the six-yard box was cleared before Moi Elyounoussi could get on the end of it.
And two minutes later, it was the visitors who took the lead. James Tavernier fired a free-kick from the inside-right channel into the box, and Conor Goldson steered his header beyond Vasilis Barkas in the Celtic goal.
Rangers pushed forward in search of a second goal and they had a couple of half-chances from Tavernier and Ryan Kent, but on 14 minutes, Elyounoussi had a great chance to equalise.
Shane Duffy played a long ball over the top of the Rangers defence, which Goldson struggled to clear under pressure from Elyounoussi. The ball fell to him just inside the area, and he attempted a lob over the onrushing Allan McGregor, but it went high and wide.
Chances were at a premium in the first-half, with Elyounoussi and McGregor both having efforts blocked on the edge of the area. At the other end of the pitch, the Hoops defence prevented the visitors from carving out any further opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.
Celtic started the second half intent on getting back into the game, but it was the visitors who doubled their lead on 53 minutes.
Initially, the chance had come down the left hand side when Ryan Kent was set free, but Kris Ajer’s sliding challenge inside the box took the ball away from the forward and out for a corner.
But when that set-piece wasn’t cleared properly, the ball was fired back into the six-yard box where it broke kindly for Goldson to fire home his second of the afternoon.
And it could have got worse for the Hoops on 65 minutes when a Barisic cross was met first-time by Kent eight yards out, but his goal-bound shot was deflected wide by Ajer.
Celtic had a chance with 10 minutes of the match remaining when Ajer threaded a ball through to Leigh Griffiths, but though the substitute rounded the Rangers keeper, the angle was too tight for him to score, and McGregor smothered it inside the six-yard box.
CELTIC: Barkas, Duffy, Brown, Klimala (Griffiths 66), Ntcham (Rogic 66), Elyounoussi (Ajeti 55(, Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Welsh (Turnbull 83), Laxalt (Taylor 83).
Subs: Bain, Soro, Henderson, Ralston.
RANGERS: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Barisic, Kamara, Davis, Arfield (Aribo 89), Barker (Jack 61), Kent, Morelos (Itten 85).
Subs: McLaughlin, Bassey, Balogun, Jones, Hago, Defoe.
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Sunday, October 4, 2020
(Griffiths 89, Klimala 90)
CELTIC took all three points in a hard-fought 2-0 win against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park. The Hoops left it late but Leigh Griffiths marked his return with a crucial goal in the 89th minute before Patryk Klimala killed off the game in injury time.
Celtic had the bulk of possession from the off but the home side made a spirited start to the game, pressing their opponents high up the pitch.
Neither side forged any real chances in front of goal in the first 10 minutes. Mohamed Elyounoussi sparked Celtic’s first real chance with a quick exchange of passing with Olivier Ntcham in the middle of the park. The move allowed the Norwegian to break through the middle and feed the ball out wide to Greg Taylor whose cross into the back post was knocked out for a corner before it reached Jeremie Frimpong.
Shane Duffy got on the end of a couple of Celtic corners but Zander Clark managed to save both quite comfortably.
Celtic upped the tempo as the first half wore on but Callum Davidson’s side were aggressive in closing down Celtic and the fouling prevented the Hoops from finding their free-flowing stride going forward.
St Johnstone reverted from the high press they had used in the early stages, switching to two banks of five in an effort to close any space Celtic could exploit
They fashioned a great chance against the run of play around the half-hour mark when Craig Conway’s cross found David Wotherspoon trying to dart in behind the Celtic defence. Vasilas Barkas came out to clear the danger and missed the ball but Wotherspoon sent the ball high into the air with his header.
Celtic responded in turn with their best chance of the half. Callum McGregor ran on to Taylor’s cut back, hitting the ball first-time on the edge of the box, but his shot across goal flashed narrowly wide of the far post.
The champions created another good chance just before half-time when Frimpong drove inside and drilled a pass into Elyounoussi. The Norwegian knocked the ball to Edouard but the Frenchman couldn’t generate enough power on his shot as he turned inside the box.
St Johnstone passed up the opportunity to take lead two minutes into the second half with Wotherspoon and Conway again threatening. Wotherspoon broke free down the left wing and swung a cross into the far post for Conway but the winger smashed his shot from the edge of the six-yard box against the post.
At the other end, Celtic came close to opening the scoring. McGregor dribbled beyond two players out on the left flank and delivered an excellent cross into the penalty area for Turnbull but he steered his header wide.
Following that, Celtic maintained the pressure on Callum Davidson’s side for a spell and only some last gasp defending prevented Celtic from taking the lead from a series of corners.
Neil Lennon made some changes around the hour mark, bringing Ryan Christie on for Turnbull and replacing Odsonne Edouard with Patryk Klimala.
The Polish striker almost made the difference after getting on the end of Ntcham’s curling cross to the front post but he poked his effort wide of the post.
With the final whistle fast approaching Neil Lennon made two more changes, bringing on Leigh Griffiths and Tom Rogic in the hope they could provide the touch of magic needed to give Celtic the lead.
Griffiths delivered an excellent corner 10 minutes from the end and Duffy connected with a powerful header but the ball flashed over the crossbar.
Christie then crossed an excellent ball into the box three minutes from the end but Griffiths’ was unable to steer it in with his header. The Celtic striker had a go with an overhead kick from the edge of the penalty box but was off target with his attempt.
The 30-year-old would not pass up his next chance, however. With only one minute of the 90 left to play he headed in the crucial goal.
Klimala then put the game to bed in added time. The striker sprung back to his feet after being brought down by Liam Gordon and smashed the ball beyond Clark and into the roof of the net.
ST JOHNSTONE: Clark, McNamara, Kerr, Mccart, Tanser, Gordon, Conway, McCann, Davidson, Wotherspoon (O’Halloran 66), May
Subs: Parish, Olaofe, Rooney, Robertson, Hendry, Booth, Craig, Bryson
CELTIC: Barkas, Taylor (Brown 81), Duffy, Turnbull (Christie 58), Ntcham (Rogic 75), Edouard (Klimala 58), Elyounoussi (Griffiths 75), Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Elhamed
Subs: Bain, Jullien, Soro, Welsh
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Celtic Park, Glasgow
(McGregor 7, Ajeti 35, Elyounoussi 78)
CELTIC followed Thursday’s UEFA Europa League victory in Latvia with a confident 3-0 win against Jack Ross’ in-form Hibernian at Paradise this afternoon (Sunday). First half goals from Callum McGregor and Albian Ajeti, and a fine finish from Mohamed Elyounoussi with 12 minutes remaining ensured Neil Lennon’s men closed the gap at the top of the Premiership to a point with a game in hand.
It was a lively start to proceedings, as both teams pressed high up the pitch, passing well and stretching the game in the opening stages. After just three minutes, the visitors’ high offence allowed Jeremie Frimpong – in for the injured James Forrest on the right flank – to burst forward on the counter, only to be hauled down by Paul Hanlon on the edge of the box.
Christie sent the ensuing set-piece into the wall, before Hibs forged their own fast break from the back towards Martin Boyle on the left wing. The Easter Road side’s No.10 in turn sent a dangerous ball towards the six-yard line, which Hoops stopper Vasilis Barkas smothered on his second attempt.
Again pressing Jack Ross’ side high up the pitch, the champions’ breakthrough came after seven minutes via Callum McGregor. After collecting Ryan Christie’s square-ball from the inside-right channel, the 27-year-old strode towards goal before zipping a low left foot effort across keeper Ofir Marciano into the right corner of the net.
To their credit, Hibs continued to press with intent which called for concentration from Celtic’s back three of Shane Duffy, Nir Bitton and Kris Ajer. On the quarter-hour mark, the visitors carved their best chance of the half when Kevin Nisbit did well to cut-back from the by-line for Christain Doidge, whose snapshot attempt skimmed the crossbar on its way out of play.
At the other end, Frimpong was again quick to turn defence into attack on the right flank, and battled well with the physicality of Hibs left-back Josh Doig. Still, chances remained at a premium as Celtic looked to extend and Hibs sought to pull level.
With half-an-hour played, Frimpong remained the Hoops’ biggest threat – again showing the explosive pace and determination which earned him Man of the Match in midweek.
On 35 minutes, some neat combination play between the wing-back and Christie saw the ball break to Elyounoussi 12 yards from goal. The Norwegian internationalist did well to get a shot away under pressure, which Marciano parried out into the path of Ajeti. The striker duly fired home first-time to double his side’s lead, but appeared to injure his hamstring in the process, substituted for Odsonne Edouard in the aftermath of his goal celebration.
Celtic’s next half-chance of the opening period saw Christie float the ball towards the left by-line, but neither Greg Taylor of Elyounoussi could connect. Hibs again worked their counter-attack well, before Boyle sent a powerful right-foot over the bar.
The Hoops almost made it three before the break when Taylor showed great pace on the left before whipping a ball between the opposition goalkeeper and last defender. The cross missed Elyounoussi at the front post, before Frimpong sent his effort high six yards from goal at the back.
On for Ryan Christie at half-time, David Turnbull looked sharp from kick-off, helping Nir Bitton create Celtic’s first clear-cut chance of the second period. After holding up the ball on the inside-right flank, the 21-year-old slipped the ball to the overlapping Israeli, who in turn forced a fine stop at full-stretch from Marciano.
In the 53rd minute, Turnbull sent a wicked out-swinging free-kick into the box, cleared only as far as Scott Brown, who forced another fine save from the Hibs Stopper. Moments after that, Turnbull again made his presence felt when his 20-yard effort was denied by the fingertips of the keeper. Shortly after that again, Edouard came close when he headed a Turnbull corner towards goal which was cleared off the line by Paul McGinn.
Despite Celtic’s pressure, Hibs held firm but offered little in the final third. Joe Newell came closest in the 65th minute, but scooped his effort inside the box well over the mark. With the match opening up, Frimpong continued to utilise space on the right, and on 70 minutes, laid the ball off to McGregor. His rasping attempt from 20 yards was however denied by a strong right arm from Marciano.
Into the final quarter-hour and the visitors stepped out in search of a goal. After a flurry of scrambles in the Hoops penalty area, Nisbit came closest on 77 minutes but was charged down by Duffy.
With Hibs playing so far forward, however, Celtic worked another neat counter-attack to make it three. In a relentless move, Ajer played long to Edouard, the Frenchman played the ball inside to Turnbull, the 21-year-old threaded the ball through to Elyounoussi, and the Norwegian slipped the ball home to the keeper’s left.
It was no less than the home side deserved, given their dominance from back to front. Edouard might have added another in the closing stages, played in by late substitute Ismaila Soro, but Marciano was equal to his low effort.
Another comprehensive domestic victory for Neil Lennon’s men, which bodes well for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play-off against FK Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovinian.
CELTIC: Barkas; Bitton, Duffy, Ajer; Brown (Ntcham 82), Frimpong, Christie (Turnbull 46), McGregor (Soro 86), Taylor; Elyounoussi (Klimala 82), Ajeti (Edouard 37)
Subs not used: Bain, Griffiths, Rogic, Elhamed
HIBS: Marciano; McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Doig (Stevenson 46); Boyle, Wright (Murphy 53), Gogic, Newell, Doidge (Mallan 83), Nisbit
Subs not used: Barnes, Gray, McGregor, Hallberg, Shanley, Gullan
Third qualifying round
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Skonto Stadium, Riga
RIGA FC… 0
CELTIC took a step closer to the UEFA Europa League group stages this evening (Thursday) with a last-gasp, but dominant, 1-0 win over Latvian side Riga FC. A 90th-minute winner from second half substitute Moi Elyounoussi made the difference on the night, following a fine cut-back assist from Man of the Match Jeremie Frimpong – also a substitute himself, brought on after 35 minutes for the injured James Forrest.
In the Latvian capital, the Hoops started well as the hosts sat deep with 10 men behind the ball. Chances were at a premium in the opening stretch, and while pressing high up the pitch, Nir Bitton was forced into a fine sliding tackle at the opposite end to thwart an early counter-attack.
As Celtic settled into the game, they passed well in possession, often using the width of the pitch to their advantage. The first half-chance of the night fell to Edouard who forced a fine block from Prenga 12 yards from goal, after the Frenchman had burst onto a neat Callum McGregor through-ball. The ensuing corner missed the front post for the incoming Shane Duffy, but the danger was cleared.
It was one-way traffic in the visitors’ favour over the 20-minute mark, but Riga’s deep-sitting backline held firm and did well to dispose of Celtic’s final ball with each wave of attack. On the scant occasions the Latvians did break rank, they did so on the counter – on 21 minutes, Kris Ajer was dispossessed by Kamess in his defensive third, but Bitton again cleared the Scottish champions’ lines.
Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession, the opposing goalkeeper was rarely tested between the sticks after half-an-hour, which made patience a crucial part of the Hoops’ build-up play.
On 35 minutes, a leg injury forced James Forrest to retire early, and substitute Jeremie Frimpong made his presence felt immediately by bursting down the flank. The move was halted, but the loose ball was eventually recycled by Olivier Ntcham, whose rasping effort from 25 yards was tipped over the bar. The resulting Christie corner was headed back across the face of goal by Duffy, before Bitton’s side-footed effort was well held by Ozols.
With five minutes of normal first half time remaining, Edouard sent a magnificent through-ball into the path of the overlapping Callum McGregor. The 27-year-old zipped the ball across the face of goal, but Riga left-back Rugins swept the ball from the path of the advancing Frimpong at the back post.
Goalless at the break, Celtic returned with attacking intent and forged their first half-chance in the 49th minute. Ntcham, whose vision and passing was on-point throughout, slipped a fine reverse through-ball towards Frimpong on the inside-right channel, the young Dutchman cut back towards McGregor, but the goalkeeper intercepted the midfielder’s advances with a punch from 10 yards.
The Hoops continued to play the majority of their football in the final third, with Riga scrambling every loose ball clear and proving increasingly difficult to break down. Seconds ahead of the hour mark, Christie fashioned Celtic’s best chance of the game so far when he matched Frimpong’s defence-splitting pass with a fine left-foot that was well-blocked by Ozols.
With gaps in the home side’s backline beginning to form, Frimpong and Ntcham continued to pair well on the right, while McGregor and Taylor posed a threat on the opposite side. On 65 minutes, Christie forced another fine save from the goalkeeper when he whipped a wicked left foot free-kick from the right through a sea of bodies that was parried clear.
Seconds after replacing Ntcham on 72 minutes, Albian Ajeti almost put the Hoops in front when Frimpong wrought havoc on the right to cut back from the by-line. The Swiss international pounced, but couldn’t work the ball out from under his feet, and the attack was smothered by the goalkeeper.
Into the last 10 minutes of normal time, and Celtic threw everything at the business end of the pitch. Despite having missed the opening 35 minutes of the match, Frimpong was the champions’ most dangerous player, and again almost helped the Hoops snatch a goal in the 82nd minute when he hit the by-line to cut back once more, but Ajeti’s front post flick couldn’t reach the incoming Edouard.
Moments later, the French forward made way for Mohamed Elyounoussi and, having scored two against KR Reykjavik in European competition last month, the Norwegian midfielder grabbed another – this one a last-gasp matchwinner in the 90th minute. Frimpong was again the provider after yet another blistering burst on the right flank, before Elyounoussi picked his spot across the goalkeeper and into the far-left corner of the net.
The final whistle blew four minutes later and, despite the narrow scoreline, Celtic’s dominant display sees them progress to next week’s UEFA Europa League play-off qualifier.
RIGA: Ozols; Petersons, Stuglis, Prenga, Rugins; Wesley Nata, Panic, Roger (Brisola 70); Djurisic, Debelko (Milosevic 67), Kamess
Subs not used: Purins, Sharpar, Hora, Cernomordijs, N’Kololo
CELTIC: Barkas; Bitton, Duffy, Ajer; Brown, Taylor, Ntcham (Ajeti 72), McGregor, Forrest (Frimpong 35); Christie, Edouard (Elyounoussi 82)
Subs not used: Bain, Klimala, Turnbull, Elyounoussi, Elhamed
Website Man of the Match: Jeremie Frimpong
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Global Energy Stadium
ROSS COUNTY… 0
(Edouard 4 pen, Ajeti 20, Duffy 59, Ajer 65, Klimala 75)
SHANE Duffy kicked off his Hoops career in the best possible way with a place in the starting XI and a goal during Celtic’s 5-0 demolition of Ross County in Dingwall.
Keen to build on their confident performance against Motherwell ahead of last week’s international break, goals from Odsonne Edouard, Albian Ajeti, debutant Duffy, Kris Ajer and Patryk Klimala ensured Neil Lennon’s men returned from the highlands with maximum points.
Despite the scoreline, the match itself was well-contested in spells, with one particular highlight being the inclusion of 300 County fans, invited to spectate during the Scottish government-approved test event.
The manager made four changes to the starting XI who triumphed 3-0 over the Steelmen a few weeks back, with new Bhoy Duffy’s inclusion the most notable. Edouard also re-entered the Irishman’s lineup and took just three minutes to make his presence felt from 12 yards.
After some neat link-up play between Olivier Ntcham, James Forrest and the 22-year-old striker himself in the final third, Edouard was hauled to the turf by Ross County’s Connor Ranall inside the box. Referee Andrew Dallas pointed to the spot, and the Frenchman coolly fired the ball home into the bottom-left corner of the net.
Despite Celtic enjoying the majority of the possession from there, County’s movement at the top end of the pitch was good as they looked to unsettled the Hoops’ backline. On 11 minutes, Harry Paton did well to blindside Duffy 20 yards from goal, but, despite the centre-back’s recovery, the Staggies attacker was ruled offside.
Four minutes later, the next clear-cut opportunity fell to the home side, when Iain Vigurs sent a free-kick from 25 yards through a sea of bodies and off the post.
But it was Celtic who would strike again just over the 20-minute mark, when Albian Ajeti poked the ball home eight yards from goal. After winning a free-kick on the left flank, Callum McGregor whipped the ball into the box, Ross County failed to deal with the pace of the pass, and the striker, making his first start for Celtic in the highlands, made no mistake with his finish.
To their credit, Stuart Kettlewell’s men continued to press the game and carved their best chance of the half ahead of the half-hour mark. After bursting down the left channel, Michael Gardyne did well to pick out Ross Stewart at the back-post. He rose higher than Kris Ajer, headed towards goal on the angle but was denied by a great save from Vasilis Barkas.
Both sides started the second period with intent, with McGregor first trying his luck from 18 yards less than 60 seconds after the restart, and, at the other end, with Paton forcing a fine save to Barkas’ right moments later.
As the match begun to open up, Celtic utilised the space well as they pushed the home side’s backline deeper with each wave of attack. Jeremie Frimpong and Forrest looked a threat from their respective wings, with the former sliding a beautiful through-ball for Ajeti ahead of the hour mark. The Swiss forward forced a corner, McGregor whipped the ball towards the six-yard line and debut star Duffy battered the ball into the roof of the net with a powerful header.
Neil Lennon’s men now cruising, the Hoops made it four a few minutes later, when McGregor’s short corner found Forrest, he slipped the ball to Ntcham down the inside-left channel, the Frenchman zipped the ball across goal, and Kris Ajer – who’d stayed forward for the corner – tapped the ball over the line from a couple of yards.
On for Ajeti, substitute Patryk Klimala almost made it five when Edouard burst into the opposition penalty area, squared the ball across goal, before Alex Iacovitti threw himself into the path of the Pole’s shock to block the effort.
Minutes later, the 21-year-old forward got his name on the scoresheet when substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi pounced on a defensive error 20 yards out, played a neat through-ball inside, and Klimala fired home.
With 10 minutes of normal time remaining Oli Shaw sent a free-kick off the woodwork, before, at the opposite end, Ajer sent a side-footed effort down the throat of Staggies keeper Ross Laidlaw.
With Ross County tiring towards the end, the Hoops pressed high up the pitch in search of more, but Stuart Kettlewell’s men held out to keep the scoreline at five without reply. On as a late substitute David Turnbull looked lively in the middle of the pitch.
A great afternoon’s work for Neil Lennon’s men, who were particularly clinical in the second half.
ROSS COUNTY: Laidlaw, Randall, Gardyne (Charles-Cook 79), McKay (Shaw 32), Vigurs (Kelly 79), Iacovitti, Tillson (Draper 66), Paton, Donaldson, Stewart
Subs not used: Morris, Watson, Charles-Cook, Munro, Wright, MacKinnon
CELTIC: Barkas; Jullien, Duffy, Brown (Turnbull 78), Ajeti (Klimala 60), Ntcham (Elyounoussi 70), Edouard (Christie 70), Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor (Soro 78), Forrest
Subs not used: Bain, Taylor, Elhamed, Welsh
Website Man of the Match: Shane Duffy
Sunday, August 30, 2020
(Forrest 40, Ajeti 75, Jullien 90+2)
CELTIC returned to winning ways with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Motherwell at Paradise today (Sunday), on an afternoon which saw James Forrest net his first strike of the 2020/21 campaign, Albian Ajeti come off the bench with another goal, and centre-back Christopher Jullien get his name on the scoresheet late on with a wicked overlap from deep within his half.
While it was the visitors who got things underway, Celtic quickly assumed control of the match in its opening stages, passing well and pressing Motherwell deep into their defensive third. The first half-chance of the afternoon fell to Mohamed Elyounoussi after five minutes, when he collected a loose ball following an out-swinging Hatem Elhamed cross, but couldn’t keep his volleyed effort down.
The Hoops dominated much of the opening 10 minutes, however as the game begun to open up, Stephen Robinson’s men duly stepped out from the back – with Motherwell defender Liam Grimshaw testing Vasilis Barkas from 18-yards after some neat link-up play on the edge of the home side’s penalty box nine minutes in.
Despite their advances on this occasion, Celtic regained control of possession as they sought to break the deadlock. On 19 minutes, Grimshaw came to his side’s rescue at the opposite end, when Callum McGregor’s lovely weighted chip from the edge of penalty area towards James Forrest was intercepted by the full-back at full-stretch six yards from goal.
To Motherwell’s credit, they defended tightly and with discipline, fighting for every scrap as the first half entered its final quarter-hour. With just five minutes until the break, however, Celtic’s overload proved too much for the Steelmen when Forrest netted his first competitive goal of the 2020/21 campaign – bursting onto a McGregor through-ball following a fierce counter, and firing the ball across and beyond Trevor Carson in goal.
Celtic entered the break deserving of their lead, and returned to press the game once again in the second period. Mohamed Elyounoussi made way for striker Patryk Klimala, while Christie dropped deeper in order to provide support at the top end of the pitch.
On 53 minutes, this switch almost paid off with another goal, when Christie whipped the ball across the penalty box between the Well keeper and last defender. Substitute Klimala, however, was inches away from making a connection.
Ahead of the hour mark, and a similar situation unfolded when Greg Taylor won possession at the by-line, zipped a pass across the face of goal, but the Polish striker was outmuscled a few yards out and the pressure was cleared by the visitors.
After entering play on 70 minutes, Albian Ajeti (on for Olivier Ntcham) almost got on the scoresheet minutes later when Jeremie Frimpong (on for Taylor 10 minutes before) cut back from the by-line to the right of goal, but the striker’s ensuing effort was blocked for a corner.
Minutes after that again, and the Swiss forward did make it two when Kris Ajer fed him in unmarked 12 yards from goal and battered an effort to the left of the goalkeeper. Less than a minute after that, and Klimala had the chance to put the match out of sight when he capitalised on a defensive error, stopped only by the outstretched foot of Carson between the sticks.
Not short of chances, the nine-in-a-row champions’ next opportunity fell to first half scorer Forrest, who came in off the left flank to send a curling effort high of the mark via the top of the crossbar.
Into the final five minutes of normal time, and it seemed the visitors had little left in the tank, opting for long balls at every turn sent deep into Celtic’s defensive third. In turn, Christopher Jullien swept up everything in his path as he turned defence into attack – the Frenchman even managed to get himself on the scoresheet with a devastating overlap and strike two minutes into added time, with Frimpong the provider.
Three goals without reply for Neil Lennon’s men, who more than earned maximum points on their return to Scottish Premiership action.
CELTIC: Barkas; Elhamed, Jullien, Ajer, Taylor (Frimpong 62); Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Ntcham (Ajeti 70), Elyounoussi (Klimala 46); Christie
Subs not used: Bain, Bitton, Soro, Turnbull, Harper, McInroy
MOTHERWELL: Carson; Grimshaw, Mugabi, Gallagher, Lamie (White 69); O’Donnell, Campbell, O’Hara, Polworth; Long (Hylton 88), Watt (Lang 59)
Subs not used: Morrison, Hastie, MaGuire, Seedorf, Robinson, Cornelius
Website Man of the Match: James Forrest