Scottish Premiership Celtic stretch lead, Rangers held

The win was Celtic's 14th in a row as they remain unbeaten in 23 domestic matches since the start of the season.

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Celtic managed to stretch their lead to the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 2-0 victory over Ross County, as they prepare for the upcoming match against their rivals, the Rangers play

Celtic managed to stretch their lead to the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 2-0 victory over Ross County, as they prepare for the upcoming match against their rivals, the Rangers

(AFP/File)
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Celtic stretched their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership as they warmed up for Saturday's Old Firm clash against rivals Rangers with a comfortable 2-0 win over Ross County.

The visitors had looked dangerous on the break before Erik Sviatchenko fired Celtic into a 38th minute lead with a long range effort, Stuart Armstrong adding a second in first half stoppage time.

The win was Celtic's 14th in a row as they remain unbeaten in 23 domestic matches since the start of the season.

Brendan Rodgers' side will now head into the second Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox with a 16-point lead over second-placed Rangers, who were held to a 1-1 draw away to St Johnstone.

"It was an excellent result for us as we had to be patient in the game," the Celtic manager said.

"We need to be better in the last 10 minutes. That was my only complaint. Apart from that it was an outstanding team performance yet again."

Ross County manager Jim McIntyre was really pleased with how his side had started.

"We had a game plan to play on the counter attack which we've done well when we've been here previously," McIntyre said.

"I felt we were compact and disciplined and we had two great chances on the counter attack and we've got to put one of them away."

Ross County had put pressure on Celtic from the start as they refused to allow the Hoops to settle on the ball. The Staggies created the early opportunities and Christopher Routis caused panic in the Celtic defence as he flashed a fierce strike across the six-yard box that was crying out for a touch to divert it into the net.

Liam Boyce then messed up a chance following a quick breakaway move as he pulled his low drive wide after being teed up perfectly by Martin Woods.

Despite this, Celtic should have taken the lead shortly after through Scott Sinclair who was picked out in the box by a sublime cross from Emilio Izaguirre, but the English winger flashed his header off-target.

Jozo Simunovic then misjudged the flight of a high ball to allow Alex Schalk in behind the Celtic defence. The ball was then worked to Woods via Boyce but the Ross County man dragged his shot wide.

The sides seemed to be heading to the break on level terms before Sviatchenko broke the deadlock with his first goal of the season. The Danish defender collected the ball just inside the County half and evaded one challenge before firing a powerful 25-yard strike into the bottom corner past County 'keeper Fox who should have done better.

The Hoops extended their advantage in first half stoppage time. Mikel Lustig slipped a pass to Armstrong who twisted one way then another before drilling a fierce strike past Fox to net for the second successive match.

Celtic showed no signs of easing up in the second half with Leigh Griffiths winding Fox as he lashed a shot straight at the 'keeper before the Scotland striker somehow managed to head over from just four yards out.

Craig Gordon had a quiet evening in the Celtic goal but was called into action late on to tip a sizzling strike from Woods round the post and then stop a Andrew Davies header on the line as his side kept their third straight clean sheet.

Glasgow rivals Rangers are the opponents on Saturday and their four-match winning run was brought to an end by St Johnstone. The Gers got off to the perfect start in Perth when Barrie McKay netted in the 23rd minute.

Their lead lasted just five minutes, however, as a slack pass-back from Rob Kiernan was intercepted by Steven McLean who evaded Wes Foderingham before sliding it into the net.