CELTIC 4 ROSS COUNTY 0
MIGHTY Moussa Dembele started his first game since July – and marked the occasion with a trademark strike in a landslide triumph over Ross County at Parkhead this afternoon.
The Champions achieved their 55th domestic match undefeated with an impressive 4-0 win over Ross County. You have to go back to mid May 2016 when Ronny Deila’s Champions lost 2-1 in an end of season affair away to St Johnstone.
Last season’s 32-goal man returned today after injury for the encounter against the Dingwall outfit and was on target just before the interval to show the home fans just what they have been missing.
It has taken the French Under-21 international striker until today to score his first Premiership goal of the season.
He made up for lost time as he linked up with Leigh Griffiths on the left-hand side of the box in the 42nd minute.
The Celtic support held its collective breath in eager anticipation as he moved the ball to his right foot before curling a sweet effort wide of keeper Aaron McCarey.
The relief in the stands matched the delight of Dembele on the pitch.
And the comeback Bhoy went off to a standing ovation just before the hour mark as he was replaced by his fellow-countryman Odsonne Edouard.
James Forrest also enjoyed the afternoon with two excellent strikes while Tom Rogic chipped in with the opener.
Celtic, as expected, dominated from the start, but there was a lack of killer touch early on to emphasise the gulf between the teams.
Dembele, after his troublesome hamstring injury, was feeling his way back into the action as the Hoops carried the game to the Highlanders.
It was Wizard of Oz Rogic who claimed the breakthrough goal in the 13th minute and he thoroughly deserved his effort.
The Aussie midfielder looked eager to impress right from the start and, once again, he was swift to spot a near-post opening, as he did so demonstrably against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Final back in May.
This time he worked a one-two with Forrest, drifted forward menacingly and slotted the ball between McCarey and the upright.
It was a goal the champions deserved after dictating play and afterwards Griffiths contrived to send a free-kick about 20 yards wide of the post.
Rogic had the ball in the net, but had been fouled and referee Steven McLean had clearly already awarded the free-kick.
Stuart Armstrong was crowded out as Dembele screamed for a pass and then a drive from the French youngster was blocked.
Anthony Ralston was out of luck shortly before Dembele’s goal when he walloped the post with a sizzling attempt that zipped past McCarey.
The Highlanders were denied by a truly magnificent save from Craig Gordon from pulling one back in the 50th minute.
Craig Curran, looking yards offside, was allowed to carry on and thump an effort at goal. The Hoops keeper pushed the ball wide, but it fell straight to the feet of unmarked Davis Keillor-Dunn who thought he was just about to score.
However, Gordon displayed electrifying reflexes to get back and somehow manage to get a hand to the ball to turn it over the crossbar. It was a sensational effort from the international No.1.
Celtic made the most of it by scoring a third goal in the 52nd minute.
Gordon actually started the move with a clever throw-out and the ball was eventually worked to Rogic who, as usual, didn’t wait for an invite to have a crack at goal.
McCarey managed to parry his effort, but the ball dropped to Forrest who crashed it into the inviting net.
And the international winger struck again in the 74th minute with the fourth goal.
Griffiths was involved with a thunderous drive that was pushed away by the frantic County keeper. Edouard snapped up the rebound, fed the ball to Forrest and he swept it wide of the Irishman.
Scotty Sinclair then came on for Griffiths as Brendan Rodgers kept his first team squad ticking over. McGregor had earlier replaced Armstrong.
The Hoops – and Dembele – are now in great shape for the midweek League Cup confrontation against Dundee at Dens Park.
This afternoon was their 55th unbeaten game – where have we heard that number before? – against domestic opposition.
Celtic Quick News has no matchday photography today as the match was at Celtic Park. We do have photography passes for our next two matches at Dens Park and Ibrox.
TEAM: Gordon; Ralston, Simunovic, Bitton; Brown; Forrest, Rogic, Armstrong (sub: McGregor 59), Hayes; Dembele (sub: Edouard 59), Griffiths (sub: Sinclair 75).
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