A DEFLECTED long-range shot from Kris Commons gave Celtic a welcome and hard-fought victory in Dingwall.

It was hardly a vintage performance from the Hoops, but it still moved them three points ahead of Aberdeen with a game in hand.

The Dons, of course, lost ground on Friday in their 1-1 draw with St Johnstone in Perth.

It was a stalemate in the Highlands until Commons made an impact in the 52nd minute.

Nir Bitton started the move with a ball inside to John Guidetti who switched it in front of Commons.

The midfielder sized up the situation in a moment and launched a pulverising 30-yarder at the County goal.

His left-foot effort deflected off the frantic Paul Quinn and looped over the the helpless Antonio Reguero.

Commons, as expected, claimed the goal – his first league strike since September.

The Dingwall outfit, who scrapped to a goalless draw in Glasgow earlier in the campaign, frustrated the champions during the first-half.

Commons came close with a dipping free-kick which was punched to safety by the acrobatic Reguero.

And the midfielder was also out of luck when he attempted to direct a vicious cross from Emilio Izaguirre goalwards.

Unfortunately, he got his angles wrong and the ball flew to safety.

In 74 minutes, Leigh Griffiths and Guidetti contrived to pass up two gilt-edged chances to make life a bit more comfortable for the visitors.

Griffiths was clean through on the keeper, but elected for power rather than precision and hammered a wayward shot against the body of the outrushing keeper.

The ball spun in the direction of Guidetti who looked as though he must score his first goal in seven games.

Alas, the Swede, obviously lacking in much-needed confidence, blasted the ball against a defender and it bounced to safety.

Earlier in the season, he would have plonked that effort in the net.

Late in the game, Craig Gordon, safe and sure throughout, came to Celtic’s rescue with a couple of excellent saves.

Seven minutes from time, Scott Boyd volleyed in a low effort from the edge of the box, but the keeper got down well to his right to hold the effort.

And just on full-time he repeated the feat when he threw himself across his line to grasp a header from ex-Celt Rocco Quinn.

Celtic can be happy with the points.

However, there will be question marks over the overall performance which was, in the main, fairly sluggish.

TEAM: Gordon; Matthews, Denayer, Van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons (sub: Scepovic 75), Griffiths (sub: McGregor 75), Henderson; Guidetti (sub: Ambrose 86).

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