Four Findings: Ross County 0-5 Celtic
Celtic cruised their way past Ross County for the fifth straight time with a convincing 5-0 win on Saturday.
The scoring started right away as Odsonne Edouard converted a penalty in the third minute. Albian Ajeti fired in his third goal for the Hoops after 20 minutes to give Celtic a 2-0 advantage at halftime.
Celtic broke through for the third time after debut Bhoy Shane Duffy launched a header past the keeper in the 59th minute. Just five minutes later, Kristoffer Ajer tapped in his first goal of the season. Patryk Klimala found the back of the net to make it 5-0 in the 75th minute.
Despite their early struggles, Celtic have now won three consecutive Premiership matches and have outscored their opponents 9-0 in them. Saturday’s win keeps Celtic in third place in the SPFL, trailing Rangers by six points.
With two matches in hand, Celtic will be able to close the gap in their midweek matchup against St. Mirren on Wednesday.
Here are ‘Four Findings’ from Celtic’s convincing victory over The Staggies.
On his debut after his dream move to Celtic, Shane Duffy was superb. On loan from Brighton, the Irish international scored a cracking header and didn’t seem to put a foot wrong.
Unsurprisingly, Duffy will clearly add another powerful and aggressive presence in the defence and another lethal aerial threat from set-pieces to accompany Christopher Julien. A great start to his Hoops career, but his true tests will come in bigger games.
Duffy’s move to Celtic forced Neil Lennon to finally answer the calls of many by having Celtic return to a 3-5-2 formation which brought the Hoops great success in the final stages of last season. The forward duo of Edouard and Ajeti each scored, but with Klimala and Griffiths lurking, they will need to stay hot or they will be replaced.
While Forrest played on the left-wing and Frimpong on the right, it will be expected that the wingers will be interchangeable with Elyounoussi also available to play at a high level on the left. Still very much a work in progress defensively, Celtic did much better in creating more opportunities with their dynamic attack.
The only question this time around is whether or not Lennon keeps the 3-5-2 for European competition. Now looking to qualify for the Europa League, Lennon will have some crucial decisions to make to secure Celtic’s place in the tournament’s group stage.
While a 5-0 scoreline suggests that the ‘keeper likely had little to do, that was certainly not the case throughout Saturday’s contest. Celtic’s Vasilis Barkas was forced into five saves. Once again, Barkas has proven to be able to make some good and important stops.
The Greek international registered his third consecutive clean sheet on Saturday afternoon with some quality saves required. Perhaps the only question marks that remain are the communication problems with his defenders and that he is a bit indecisive when deciding if he needs to come off his line.
Set Piece Dominance
Duffy’s aerial threat will obviously be a major bonus against any opponent but if Christopher Julien can be a bit more aggressive as well and if Kristoffer Ajer could learn to use his big frame to be another target, then we could see a Celtic side that is as dominant as we have ever seen in the air.
Assuming they can mirror that on the defensive end, Celtic could suddenly become a team that can find wins that they haven’t been able to get in the past. Even when playing poorly, Celtic could find a way back into matches through set-pieces.
If you put all this together with a healthy Leigh Griffiths taking wicked free kicks, Celtic could be a world-class team when it comes to set-pieces and a team that can take advantage of their set-pieces will always have a fighting chance in any game against any opponent.