Griffiths magic maintains Celtic's perfect record


GLASGOW — Celtic kept their 100 percent away record in the Scottish Premiership intact as super sub Leigh Griffiths' sensational free-kick handed the champions a 1-0 victory at Ross County on Saturday.

Celtic struggled to overcome a stubborn County defense and failed to register a shot in the first half. Griffiths came to the rescue in the 78th minute as he curled a free-kick into the top corner to make it seven away wins out of seven in the league. Celtic extended their unbeaten domestic run to 64 matches ahead of a midweek visit to Paris Saint-Germain in Champions Group B.

"It was a very good win for us on the back of the international break against a team who were buoyant following their good result against Motherwell last time out," Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said. "Defensively we were very strong and it was a moment of magic that wins the game."

Ross County manager Owen Coyle felt disappointed not to get something from the game. "We performed ever so well in the game and tactically we were very disciplined," Coyle said. "They are a wonderful team but we had a very good shape and when we broke out we carried a threat."

Despite facing a tough trip to the French capital, Rodgers named an unchanged side with Jozo Simunovic and Griffiths recovering from injury to take their places on the bench. Celtic started the match confidently, spraying passes across the pitch with Ross County struggling to get near the ball. However, the champions struggled to get in behind a well-organized County defense with Callum McGregor's pace posing the home team their only real problems.

The Scotland midfielder felt he should have had a penalty midway through the first half as he burst into the box and evaded a couple of challenges before going down following a last-gasp tackle from Christopher Routis.

McGregor claimed the County defender clipped his heels as he prepared to shoot, but referee Nick Walsh waved away the appeals. Moussa Dembele, fresh from scoring a 12-minute hat-trick for the France under-21 side during the international break, offered little threat in the Highlands and when he finally got a strike on target it was a tame effort straight at the 'keeper.

County seemed content to soak up the Celtic pressure but they did manage to force Craig Gordon into a save on the hour from a Routis free-kick. Kieran Tierney was making his 100th appearance for Celtic but he had little cause for celebration when he picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Michael Gardyne.

With time running out, it was Griffiths who came up with a moment of magic to open the scoring. The Celtic striker lifted his free-kick up and over the wall with pace and it landed right in the top corner giving County 'keeper Aaron McCarey no chance. — AFP