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Kyogo Furuhashi nets opener as Celtic edge towards title with win at Ross County

Ross County v Celtic – cinch Premiership – Global Energy Stadium
(Image credit: Robert Perry)

Kyogo Furuhashi’s early goal sent Celtic on the way to a 2-0 victory over Ross County which gives the Hoops the chance to all but seal the title against Rangers.

The Japan international took less than 12 minutes of his first start since Boxing Day to head home in Dingwall.

Ange Postecoglou’s side were dominant in the first half but County made a game of it in the second period without ever seriously troubling Joe Hart.

The visiting fans could not relax until the 87th minute, though, when Jota netted from close range.

The victory restored Celtic’s six-point lead over Rangers ahead of next Sunday’s Parkhead derby. With the leaders boasting a 19-goal advantage over their rivals, going nine points ahead with three games left would spark cinch Premiership title celebrations from their supporters.

Furuhashi came in for his first start since aggravating a hamstring injury against St Johnstone on December 26 and soon netted his first goal since his Premier Sports Cup final winner.

Celtic started with purpose to their play but the opener was the simplest of goals. Jota made space to cross from the right and Furuhashi directed a free header into the corner of the net from the middle of the penalty area.

The visitors had a number of chances to add to their lead before half-time. Callum McGregor was off target twice from long range and Furuhashi missed several opportunities.

The Japan forward sent a looping volley off the bar, fired over after an exchange of passes with Daizen Maeda and then shot straight at Ross Laidlaw from 12 yards after the goalkeeper had spilled Matt O’Riley’s long-range effort.

Laidlaw further redeemed himself when he tipped over Maeda’s first-time effort following a good move down right involving Anthony Ralston and O’Riley.

County did not worry Celtic at all in the first half other than from some decent crosses from Blair Spittal, but they began to pose more of a threat after the break.

Harry Paton, Alex Iacovitti and Jordan White all got shots away and they forced some set-pieces around the box.

Jota was looking dangerous for Celtic but Postecoglou sensed they needed a spark and brought on Giorgos Giakoumakis, Tom Rogic and Liel Abada 20 minutes into the second half.

Abada scuffed a shot wide after Greg Taylor’s cross ultimately broke for him and Celtic stepped up their pursuit of a second goal.

Substitute David Turnbull failed to get hold of two long-range efforts but the cushion eventually came after Abada got to the byline and cut the ball back.

Giakoumakis hit the bar but Jota followed up to slide in front of a County defender and stab the ball over the line.

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