Celtic comfortably defeated Ross County 3-0, as they moved eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership after a dominant display at the Global Energy Stadium.

After an early scare by Ross County’s Jordan White, Brendan Rodgers’ team would dominate proceedings, aided by the correct showing of a red card to James Brown following a VAR review. The studs-up challenge on Yang Hyun-jun was originally given as a yellow by David Munro on the pitch, but technology intervened and a changing of card colour was recommended by those at Clydesdale House.  After the game, Rodgers accurately called the scenario one of “attack versus defence”.

Following a multitude of chances – and a few questionable VAR calls – Celtic made the breakthrough, with David Turnbull scoring his second goal in as many games from outside of the box. Ross County’s game plan was foiled, despite Ross Laidlaw’s incredible individual performance in goals for his team.

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The second half was largely the same, with the 10 men of County defending for their lives against a constant onslaught of attacks. Celtic’s lead was extended through Luis Palma, who scored an incredible long-range goal from outside the box, leaving Laidlaw with no chance.

The goalscorer would then become the provider, as Palma intricately lobbed the ball to the unmarked James Forrest in the opposition’s box who headered home with ease. 

Rodgers made several changes for this game, in all areas of the park. Anthony Ralston was offered a rare start in place of Alistair Johnston, whilst Paulo Bernardo returned to the team in place of the rested Matt O’Riley. Turnbull retained his place in the team following his goalscoring exploits in midweek, whilst South Korean duo Yang and Oh Hyeon-gyu started in place of Palma and Kyogo Furuhashi. Daizen Maeda and Cameron Carter-Vickers also returned to the team, as Nat Phillips and James Forrest made way.

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

xG trendline

Looking at the race chart above, the trendline indicates that Ross County had absolutely no chance of achieving three points from this game, given the chances they had and xG they accumulated during proceedings. Celtic had a mammoth 97 per cent chance of winning, whilst the other three per cent was for a draw, though in truth there was only ever going to be one result in this game.

Still, despite that eventual dominance, Malky Mackay’s team did have the first chance of the game, and it was a big one that should have been executed better. White gets on the end of a cross that goes wide, but his xG score (0.16) indicated that this was a big chance for his side. If this chance gets converted in the first minute of the match, then it could have been a different game. White’s chance was to be the only chance of the first half for Ross County, as their second opportunity didn’t come until the 53rd minute.

Yang had Celtic’s first chance, though his shot was blocked by Brown (0.06 xG). The attacker and defender of this action would come together minutes later, as Brown was sent off following his challenge on the South Korea cap. Because of this, the whole course of the game would change completely, with the 10 men of Ross County essentially defending for the duration.

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Turnbull, Liam Scales and Carter-Vickers would all threaten in the next few minutes (0.13 xG combined), before captain Callum McGregor forced a save from Laidlaw (0.06 xG). Maeda, McGregor and Oh would then come close, with these three chances all happening within the space of a minute (0.14 combined xG). The latter would be busy again – alongside international teammate Yang – as they contributed to more shots at goal (0.17 xG), before the defensive partnership of Scales and Carter Vickers combined to make opportunities on the opposite end of where they're usually situated (0.23 xG).

In what was a never-ending display of potent attacking play from Rodgers’ men, Bernardo was next to try his luck in front of goal, with three chances in the space of eight minutes. His best one was from a through ball, in which the Portugal U21 international’s shot was saved by the keeper. The shot was a massive 0.45 xG, but his three chances accumulated 0.53 in the space of those eight minutes of action. Turnbull, Oh and Bernardo would all have chances in first-half stoppage time, but it was the first name mentioned that managed to open the scoring for Celtic.

Scales found Turnbull in space, who took the ball from the defender via a pass. The midfielder shimmied past Yan Dhanda in the Ross County engine room, setting up and then executing an unstoppable low shot past Laidlaw in his right-hand corner. This was trademark Turnbull, a shot and goal that you will see him score four or five times a season if allowed to do so. Despite only registering 0.04 in xG, the PSxG rose to 0.28 following the shot leaving Turnbull’s boot, indicating the quality of the strike but also the difficulty of converting that kind of chance, which the midfielder made look quite simple in transpiring.

The second half was to be more of the same, with Celtic attempting a barrage of opportunities in the game thanks to their man advantage. The first of these chances fell to Oh, whose shot was saved once again by Laidlaw (0.11 xG), followed by a Bernardo free-kick (0.04 xG) and two big chances via through balls to both Turnbull (0.17 xG) and Kyogo (0.20 xG), both saved by Laidlaw again. Yang, Scales and Palma would all have small opportunities (0.25 combined xG) before Odin Thiago Holm would get closer to his first Celtic goal with two chances (0.10 xG) Ross County Would block Kyogo’s shot (0.03 xG), though the Staggies would get nowhere near the following strike from a certain Honduran winger just a few seconds later.

Everything about this strike oozed quality, class and prestige from Palma. McGregor found the wide man in a central area (perhaps a position where Palma may end up playing in the future?), and the alarm bells should have been ringing at this point, given the forward’s strengths at striking a ball from distance. Like Turnbull, he took a couple of touches to set himself, before unleashing a howitzer from long-range, looping up and over Laidlaw who had no chance of getting anywhere near it. Amazingly, the xG of this goal was a minuscule 0.02, rising slightly to 0.10 in PSxG. This underlines how tremendous a goal it was, as well as how gifted Palma is at striking from range with his right foot. With eight goals and assists in his first 10 games in all competitions, Palma is a problem for any defence he comes up against.

Celtic pushed for more goals and got their reward five minutes later, though Kyogo and Carter-Vickers both had chances in between the two goals (0.13 xG). As mentioned previously, Palma is not just a goalscorer, as his distribution and keenness for assisting his teammates are not to be downplayed…

Following a loose ball rolling into his path, Palma took the ball for a run down the wing before floating a chipped ball to the far post. A chance that Oh would have been desperate to get on the end of, instead it was Forrest who was waiting to head it home, in what was essentially an empty net thanks to the delivery of the cross. At 0.61 in xG, this was by far the highest score in this metric, with the PSxG rising to an incredible 0.98, indicating what was effectively a tap-in for the veteran.

Scales and Kyogo (0.15 xG) both had chances to make it even more comfortable for Celtic in added time, as well as a small chance for the hosts through Scott Allardice (0.03 xG), though it was Oh who had the final chance of the game. How he did not score in this game is beyond a mystery (both through tight VAR calls and his lack of finishing), as again his shot was saved by Laidlaw (0.34 xG). Despite this, Celtic cruised to an easy win up in the Highlands, with plenty of players getting a mixture of both game time and rest if required.

Celtic had an incredible 39 shots in this game, with 16 of them being on target for the visitors to Dingwall, in turn earning a cumulative xG score of 3.65. Looking at the shot map above, the diagram is littered with shots from both in and out of the box. Perhaps the only downside to proceedings was the lack of clinical edge on show when they were working chances into close range, as only one goal came of this, compared to the two longer-range strikes from outside the penalty area. Still, it would be more of an issue if these chances were not being created, and you have to consider the incredible individual performance of Laidlaw in Ross County’s goals as a reason why more goals were not scored.

In the Scottish premiership this season, Celtic take on average a total of 20.33 shots per game, so they outperformed this average by a massive amount, though this may be down to the extra man advantage they had in the game.

Conversely, it was a quiet afternoon offensively for the home side, as they only managed three shots, with none of them being on target during proceedings. This is displayed through their shot map, which is admittedly bare when compared to Celtic’s same diagram.

As a team, Ross County take around 10.09 shots per game in the league, though they had several excuses as to why they did not meet their usual standard, such as the level of opposition and playing against that same opposition with 10 men.

Oh was Celtic’s busiest attacker in the game, taking six shots with a total xG of 0.74. On another day, he would be going home with the match ball, though his overall performance on the day was extremely encouraging. Amazingly, Scales had five shots, a figure he shared with Bernardo. Turnbull and Kyogo had four each, in what was an attacking siege from the champions.

For the home side, three players contributed to their three shots on the day, with White posting the highest xG of 0.16 from his. He was sacrificed after Brown’s red card, with Mackay’s focal point up front being lost as a result.

Possession, passing and positions

As you would expect, Celtic had the lion’s share of possession in this game, though it would have been aided by the man advantage the possession-based side had in the game. As a result, Celtic had 78 per cent possession of the ball to Ross County’s 22, completing 88 per cent of their 748 total passes to the home side’s 217 at just 60 per cent.


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).

The passing networks for both teams in both the first and second half indicate how the game changed in terms of what transpired. In the opening half, it is clear that Celtic were motoring down the left-hand side of the pitch, judging by the red OBV of Greg Taylor, Turnbull and Yang. Scales and Carter-Vickers were also impressive in terms of OBV during this half, posting warm OBV as a result. Maeda was the sole player on the right-hand side to have a warm OBV measuring. For Ross County, Brown was the only player to have a warm OBV, though his sending off early on put an end to his positive start concerning the metric.

It was the Scales show in the second half for Celtic, as shown in the diagram. The size of the circle indicates the volume of passes, with his influence growing with every passing game. Carter-Vickers continued his good OBV performance in the second half, whilst Anthony Ralston improved following the restart. Palma was Celtic’s star man concerning OBV in terms of offensive players. William Nightingale was the only home player to not post a cold OBV in this half for Ross County.

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Looking into the exact statistical data surrounding OBV, this was a performance from the ages in terms of possession and ball usage from Scales. His 114 passes accumulated a mammoth 0.75 in OBV. Turnbull had a good day in this metric too, scoring 0.49 from just 38 passes. Maeda had 0.31 off of 19 passes. Conversely, Bernardo and Oh were the two negatives regarding OBV scoring -0.10 and -0.04 respectively.

Despite his limited time on the pitch, Brown was Ross County’s best OBV contributor with 0.12 from just one pass. Simon Murray, George Harmon, Connor Randall and Victor Loturi all posted negative scores, however, with the latter having -0.04 from his eight passes.

Turnbull was Celtic's top key passer in the game, with his six passes accumulating 0.85 in xG. McGregor and Ralston had four, whilst Yang and Scales had three each.

There was just one key pass in the game from Ross County, which came from Brown before he was red-carded. A hard day at the office for the home side.

Pressing and defending

Celtic initialised 99 pressures to Ross County’s 156, with the home side regaining the ball 24 times to the visitors’ 21. Oh was Celtic’s best export for pressures and counterpressures in the game with 16 and four respectively. Taylor had 12 pressures, whilst Yang, Palma and Ralston had 10. After the game, Mackay praised Allardice, and it is clear to see why, as he topped the pressures chart with 26, whilst Nightingale, Loturi and Jack Baldwin had 23 and 20. Allardice and Nightingale had seven counterpressures also.

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Defensively, Taylor had the most combined tackles and interceptions with six, though Holm had four despite coming on as a second-half substitute. As well as being good with his passing, Scales had five clearances and 11 aerial dual wins, whilst Carter-Vickers had three and seven in the same metrics.

Allardice and Nightingale shared the combined tackles and interceptions throne with just three each, with the latter managing 10 aerial duel wins. Baldwin and Randall had five clearances, in what was a difficult day for the Highland side.