Celtic defeated Ross County 4-2 at home, as they got their Scottish Premiership title defence underway with a win at Celtic Park on Flag Day.

After a slow start, the home side were awarded a penalty following Greg Taylor being fouled in the box. Surprise starter David Turnbull stepped up and converted, his first of two goals on what was a productive day for him. Celtic would double their lead through Kyogo Furuhashi before Turnbull achieved his brace.

The visitors would rally, though, with Jordan White heading a looping effort past Joe Hart in the Celtic goal before Matt O’Riley restored the three-goal advantage. James Brown would convert a late deflected goal for Ross County in added time - concluding the scoring for the afternoon – as the game finished 4-2.

In what was Brendan Rodgers’ first competitive game following his return as Celtic manager, he picked a strong side, with attacking outlets galore in the form of Kyogo, Daizen Maeda and Liel Abada all filling the side’s most attacking positions. As mentioned before, Turnbull started in place of regular Reo Hatate, whilst central defender Maik Nawrocki made his debut ahead of the seemingly departing Carl Starfelt, who looks set to join Celta Vigo.

Here, The Celtic Way rounds up the best StatsBomb data from the game to give you a match report like no other…

xG trendline

Despite Celtic eventually securing the victory through relatively comfortable means, the visitors threatened to break the deadlock more dangerously in the opening exchanges. Indeed, after 13 minutes Ross County had amassed 0.52 in cumulative xG, with White missing a good chance in particular, his shot dragging wide (0.35). This early flurry – which saw the Staggies win a multitude of set pieces – could not be sustained, as Ross County had no attempts from the 13th minute to the 38th, their next chance coming when they found themselves 2-0 down.

The highest single xG score for the game unsurprisingly came with the penalty, which had an initial score of 0.78, followed by a PSxG (post-shot expected goal) of 0.88, demonstrating how well-taken the spot-kick was from Turnbull, which sent Ross Laidlaw the wrong way.

Celtic would make their pressure pay off and found themselves 2-0 up through Kyogo. After great work from Abada down the right wing, the Israel wide man would pick out the striker, who slotted past Laidlaw. Despite only scoring 0.16 on xG as a fast break opportunity, Kyogo’s PSxG was 0.78, demonstrating how clinical Celtic’s main striker can be when the ball leaves his feet following a strike.

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The home side would continue to carve out good opportunities, with both Matt O’Riley and Turnbull working the goalkeeper (accumulating 0.44 xG off of two shots), before both combined for Celtic’s third goal. Finding himself out wide, O’Riley got to the by-line before crossing the ball over to Turnbull, who side-footed the Dane’s delivery (0.12 xG, 0.91PSxG)

The champions went into the break 3-0 up and threatened to further consolidate their lead with five opportunities. However, they failed to capitalise on any of these chances, and the away side was next to convert. Following a corner, White caught Joe Hart out by means of a looping header, which found the Celtic keeper stranded in no-mans-land with regard to his goal-line. This was Ross County’s second-highest scoring xG chance at 0.29, which the away side duly took advantage of.

13 minutes later, and Celtic’s lead would be restored through the impressive O’Riley. Kyogo – operating in a deeper role than usual whilst still leading the line, got a hold of Cameron Carter-Vickers’ forward pass, before deftly playing the ball through to O’Riley, who smashed the ball home. It was a great finish too, especially considering the goal scored just 0.14 in xG, the PSxG rising to 0.42 following the accuracy and placement of the shot.

Following his testimonial earlier in the week, James Forrest had a chance put on a plate for him in the form of Abada’s cross, his 0.30 xG shot saved by Laidlaw at point-blank range. The Staggies would conclude the scoring through Brown, as his deflected shot hit off Starfelt’s outstretched leg before evading Hart in the Celtic goal (0.03 xG).

Our data provider calculated that the game was scored 2.65 to 0.96 in cumulative xG, highlighting a clear disparity between the two sides when it comes to taking gilt-edged chances when it matters. The race chart calculated that the home side had an 82 per cent chance of winning this game, with a draw the next likely scenario at just 13 per cent, whilst Ross County’s win probability percentage was a lowly five per cent with the chances they created.

Celtic had 18 shots in this game, with 12 of them being on target for the home side, resulting in four goals. 15 of those were in the 18-yard box, highlighting a tendency to work the ball into the area before shooting rather than striking from range for the most part.

Last season, Celtic averaged a total of 18.32, showing that they are still as dangerous as last season in terms of shot creation despite the managerial change.

Ross County had seven shots in the game, though only two of them were on target for the visitors. All of these chances came in the box, with four out of the seven transpiring in Hart’s 12-yard box. Brown’s deflected goal was the furthest-taken shot, with Starfelt’s touch the major player in that chance resulting in a conversion for the Highland side.

The Staggies last season averaged 9.18 shots per game. Despite falling below their average, Ross County can be pleased with their attacking output, especially away from home against the Scottish champions.

Turnbull was Celtic’s busiest attacker in this game with regard to shots, in which he took five and scored two on an accumulated xG of 1.48. O’Riley shot four times, scoring once in a lower xG total of 0.28, whilst Maeda’s three shots totalled 0.15. Kyogo scored once with his two shots on 0.24, whilst Forrest’s 0.30 xG was off of just one chance.

For Ross County, White led the way with his three shots, scoring once on a combined xG of 0.72. Simon Murray’s two chances accumulated 0.19, whilst Brown and Jack Baldwin each had a shot, totalling 0.05 collectively but generating a goal through the deflected effort of the former.

Possession, passing and positions

Celtic have a new manager in Rodgers, but still retain the lion’s share of possession in the vast majority of games, especially at home. They had 73 per cent possession in this game, completing 751 of their 834 passes at a success rate of 90 per cent. Conversely, the visiting side had 27 per cent of the ball in the game, completing 214 of their 303 total passes at a percentage rate of just 71.

The passing network gives a rough idea of where the majority of the game was played and who was the most involved. Remember that the warmer the colour, the more influential the player was in the game, and the thicker the passing lines, the more passes between the players.

StatsBomb measures pass contributions in on-ball value (often referred to as OBV, a term breakdown of which can be read here).

For Celtic, their standout player in terms of OBV totals was Maeda, who scored 0.28 off of 21 passes, the highest for both sides. Debutant Nawrocki was similarly impressive in this area, his 89 passes accumulating 0.16 in OBV. Left-back Taylor had an off-day when it comes to OBV, as his 71 passes scored -0.05, with captain Callum McGregor the next lowest in the team with 0.03 on 90 of his passes.

READ MORE: Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers gives Carl Starfelt exit 'reasons'

The visitor’s top OBV earner was that of the goalkeeper Laidlaw, as five of his passes accumulated 0.15 in OBV. Canadian midfielder Victor Loturi was just behind him though on 0.14 OBV from 19 passes. Ross County’s lowest OBV contributors were Josh Sims and Connor Randall, scoring -0.07 and -0.05 from 10 and 20 passes respectively.

Judging by Celtic’s passing network, it seems that the side had the most joy down the left-hand side, as is indicated by the warm red coloured circle attributed to Maeda. Nawrocki’s effectiveness down this side is highlighted by his warm OBV colour, with his total indicating that he is an effective passer already for his new side.

For Ross County, their lack of warmer colours across the pitch indicates that many players did not succeed as well with regard to OBV totals. Still, Loturi in the midfield was a key passer for his side judging by his warmer OBV, as was goalkeeper Laidlaw, along with creative midfielder Yan Dhanda.

Playing in that aforementioned deeper role, Kyogo was a provider as well as a finisher for Celtic, playing four key passes which led to one assist on an xG of 0.61 collectively. O’Riley was not far behind him with three key passes, though his xG was 0.25 despite also providing an assist.

The impressive Dhanda was Ross County’s main creator on the day, with his three key passes earning him a score of 0.43 xG and an assist in the process from White’s goal.

Passing and defending

Celtic initialised 130 pressures onto their opponents, regaining the ball 23 times as a result. Despite completing more pressures with 156, Ross County only won the ball back 22 times, meaning they put more effort in defensively on the press but gained less success back.

In terms of individuals, O’Riley (as was the case for most of last season) led the way in pressures for Celtic with 21, with Turnbull and Maeda next with 16 and 15 respectively. He also led with seven counterpressures, with Turnbull and Anthony Ralston one behind, both on six in this regard.

For the visitors, Sims and Randall finished the match with 18 pressures each, with Brown and Dhanda each completing 17. Sims was also the most effective counterpressure outlet for his team, though he only scored four whilst Murray and Randall scored three in this metric.

READ MORE: Celtic instant analysis as David Turnbull continues to shine

Defensively, it was a strong showing for new signing Nawrocki, who achieved six combined tackles and interceptions, along with five clearances and two aerial duel wins on what was a solid debut showing from the Polish central defender. Taylor was also strong at the back, though, as he contributed four tackles and interceptions, whilst also providing two clearances.

Brown was the standout player defensively during a busy day for Ross County. He had seven tackles and interceptions combined, with William Nightingale the next highest with five collectively. Nightengale also contributed the most clearances out of any player on the pitch with seven, as the away side looked to deal with Celtic’s attacking advances on Flag Day.