JAMES FORREST got in on the goalscoring act as Celtic moved eight points clear at the Premiership pinnacle with victory over the battling Highlanders in Dingwall this afternoon.

Brendan Rodgers’ men were forced to up the tempo against a packed and stubborn defence to gain another win in their bid for their twelfth title in 13 years.

David Turnbull hit the barrier-breaking goal in first-half stoppage-time, Luis Palma added a breathtaking second and veteran Forrest, who has scored in every single season since opening his account against Motherwell in May 2010, nodded in No.3 seven minutes from the end.

BREAKTHROUGH STRIKE…David Turnbull lashes in the opening goal in Dingwall.

It took a delightful piece of play and a devastating finish from Turnbull to claim the opener in the sixth and final minute of stoppage-time.

Liam Scales rolled the ball in front of the stylish midfielder who looked more than willing to have a pop at Ross Laidlaw right from the kick-off.

On this occasion, Turnbull collected the ball about 30 yards out, looked up and shaped to shoot. That prompted an opponent to take a position to block the effort, but the Hoops star feinted to his right, carried the ball forward a few yards and then swept a low right-foot drive unerringly into the keeper’s right-hand corner.

The strike was greeted with as much relief as joy after the visitors had toiled to break down a resolute County rearguard that dropped any pretence of attacking football in the 10th minute after James Brown had been red-carded.

The right-back had originally been booked by referee David Munro for a reckless challenge on Yang Hyun-jun, but VAR intervened to instruct the match official to review the tackle on the touchline monitor.

NO GOAL…Liam Scales’ effort was ruled out by VAR.

NO GOAL…Oh Hyeon-gyu slams a close-range drive past Ross Laidlaw with Yang Hyun-jun looking on. VAR wiped it out for an earlier offside decision.

The whistler returned, scrapped the yellow card and flashed red at the defender. Immediately, Malky Mackay withdrew striker Jordan White and sent on Will Nightingdale to take Brown’s place in the rearguard.

VAR intervened on two other occasions in an extended first-half – and Celtic missed out twice.

In only five minutes, Scales turned a Yang header from a Greg Taylor right-wing cross past Laidlaw from close range. The Republic of Ireland international’s delight was cut short when the referee chalked it off and VAR, after a lengthy lull in proceedings, eventually agreed with Munro.

They accepted Oh Hyeon-gyu had fouled White in an earlier joust before tha ball had dropped at Scales’ feet.

And the Hoops were only inches away from an excellent goal bang on the half-hour mark after Paulo Bernardo had sent Daizen Maeda clear on the right.

JOY BHOY…David Turnbull displays his delight after firing in the first goal against Ross Couty.

The pacy Japanese flanker carried the ball menacingly into the box before delivering an inviting low cross which was turned past Laidlaw by Oh from six yards.

VAR official Andrew Dallas, viewing the multi-screens in the Glasgow HQ, checked for offside against Maeda and the effort was ruled out. It was by the tightest of margins.

Rodgers made a triple change in the 61st minute when he sent on Kyogo Furuhashi, Odin Holm and Luis Palma for Turnbull, Bernardo and  Maeda.

Three minutes later, a remarkable double save from Laidlaw denied the Hoops a second goal. Scales picked out the run of Kyogo with an excellent diagonal pass and the sub’s shot was heading for the net before the keeper blocked it.

The rebound fell to Yang and his first-time drive was again stopped by the netminder who was standing between the champions and an emphatic scoreline.

HONDURAN HAPPY DAZE…Luis Palma celebrates his eye-catching drive for the Hoops’ second goal.

THREE CHEERS…Luis Palma congratulates James Forrest as the veteran maintains his phenomenal scoring sequence in the top-flight.

In the 77th minute, he produced another spectacular tip-over save to deny a sublime 20-yarder from Holm, but he had to admit defeat a minute later when Palma doubled the Hoops’ advantage.

The Honduran accepted a pass from Callum McGregor in the middle of the park, took a touch forward and then launched a vicious dipping and swerving 30-yard effort that rendered the heroic Laidlaw helpless.

In the 81st minute, Tomoki Iwata and Forrest were introduced to proceedings as they replaced McGregor and Yang.

And the curtain came down in fine style in the Highlands when the evergreen Hoops winger dived full-length at the back post to head in an exquisite dinked cross from Palma.

It was a fitting grand finale from the visitors and now the attention switches to the Champions League and Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Can Celtic go from a Highland Fling to a Spanish Fandango? Keep your fingers crossed!

TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; Turnbull (sub: Kyogo 61), McGregor (sub: Iwata 81), Bernardo (sub: Holm 61); Maeda (sub: Palma 61), Oh, Yang (sub: Forrest 81).

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