Celtic made heavy weather of defeating Scottish Premiership strugglers Ross County 1-0 at Parkhead as the champions stayed five points clear of Rangers at the top of the table.

Alistair Johnston's deflected strike in the opening minute of the match was enough to separate the two sides and hand Brendan Rodgers's men all three points in this one.

On a day when captain fantastic Callum McGregor clocked up his 450th appearance for the club, it was Honduran winger Luis Palma who blotted his copybook when he missed a first-half penalty twice. Palma's initial weak 12-yard effort was easily saved by Ross County goalkeeper George Wickens but referee Euan Anderson ordered a retake due to encroachment by the Staggies players. Inexplicably Palma opted to do the same thing from the spot and Wickens won the battle of wits as he read the attempt again.

Rodgers was able to hand a debut to Celtic's new £3 million signing from Rapid Vienna Nicolas Kuhn who replaced Palma on 64 minutes.It was left to Joe Hart to deny Jordan White a late equaliser when he dived full-length to save his low drive.

In truth, it was a lacklustre day at the office for Rodgers's team and the only good thing about it all was the result. File this one in the instantly forgettable category but in a week when the country celebrated the national bard Robert Burns, Celtic's only comfort came in the fact that 'For a' that and a' that, a wins a win for a' that'.


Another milestone for Celtic captain Callum McGregor

That's 450 Celtic appearances...and counting for McGregor. The skipper is now ranked in Celtic's top 20 players in terms of games for the club. The Scotland midfielder has also bagged 63 goals and contributed 77 assists to date. Last weekend the 30-year-old enjoyed a rare rest during the routine 5-0 Scottish Cup victory over Highland League side Buckie Thistle but he returned to the starting eleven against the Staggies as he clocked up another milestone game in his career. The captain was involved in the incident that led to Celtic being awarded a first-half penalty when Simon Murray clumsily upended him in the box. Palma duly spurned the opportunity from 12 yards twice but referee Euan Anderson ordered a retake due to encroachment and the same player duly failed again. The whistler even contrived to get in McGregor's way a minute before the interval just as he was about to pull the trigger from the edge of the area. He certainly picked up the tempo after the restart as he constantly tried to drive the team on and probed for an opening as the hosts chased a killer second goal. Not a vintage display by any stretch but McGregor and his teammates will be thankful for the victory.

Tony Haggerty


Bernabei in from the cold

When it was announced that Taylor was injured for a couple of weeks due to an injury against Buckie Thistle, there was healthy debate online concerning who would take up the left-back spot in his absence. Would it be Scales who moved over to a position he played under Ange Postecoglou? Would Mitchel Frame be afforded a chance to stake his claim? Or would Bernabei be afforded a rare opportunity to play from the off? The latter transpired as the former Lanus man was handed his first start for Celtic under Rodgers. It started well, as his run into the box produced a cross which ricocheted to Johnston, whose shot trickled into the back of the net. However - much like the rest of the team - Bernabei’s performance left a lot to be desired. Passes went awry, he squandered good opportunities to break away and his overall game was sketchy. A £3.75 million signing from Argentina, Bernabei possesses some good physical attributes, but his actual footballing IQ is questionable to say the least. In truth, today could and should have been the day to play your hypothetical ‘new left-back’, though one has not arrived at the club thus far in this window. His first start eventually coming at the end of January should tell you all you need to know about where Rodgers sees Bernabei fitting in with his overall plans. Regardless of Taylor being out, a new left-back MUST be signed this month.

Ryan McGinlay


Lackadaisical Luis Palma fluffs his lines from 12 yards not once...but twice

The Honduran has now missed three spot-kicks in his Celtic career to date and he should be removed from penalty duty forthwith. Both of Palma's efforts from 12 yards were weak. They lacked conviction and power, and Ross County goalkeeper George Wickens saved the attempts with relative ease. Every penalty Palma has spurned has been a carbon copy of the other. The same lazy run-up with the opposition goalkeeper not working too hard to beat away his powderpuff attempts. To miss it once against the Staggies was bad enough but to compound it all by taking a replica of his initial kick was bordering on criminal. There is an argument that Palma should have put his foot through the ball when given a second chance. It was a woeful attempt and it was the match-winning kick as Ross County were not coming back from two goals down. Only modern-day footballers can explain what goes through their minds when they take these kinds of penalties. No footballer is exempt from spending time on the bench and Palma could well be doing with a spell out of the side. What's that saying about getting abilities and capabilities mixed up? You have to display the right attitude and professionalism at Celtic at all times and in that instant, Palma was sadly lacking in both.

Tony Haggerty


KĂŒhn makes his bow

An uneventful game for the vast majority of proceedings, one of the louder cheers this afternoon was for the debut of Celtic’s latest signing KĂŒhn, who replaced Palma for the last 25 minutes. The 24-year-old, who was signed from Rapid Vienna two weeks ago, looked bright in parts, though he was maybe a victim of the fact that the team was not firing on all cylinders this afternoon. His first attack looked promising, with the German easily bypassing his marker before getting to the byline. Once beating his man, his cross was unfortunately disappointing, showing he may have to work on his final ball, which was mentioned by experts before he signed for the club. It will be interesting to see how much game time he will get in the next few weeks, as both Palma and Abada are not anywhere near their best at the moment. More to come, for sure, but promising signs on his debut.

Ryan McGinlay


Kyogo starved of any decent service and cutting an isolated figure 

It is just not happening for the Japanese talisman at this moment in time. Rodgers's Celtic do play a possession-based game but if they are not tuned into the runs of the attacker it negates his influence or presence in the game. Granted there were times when Kyogo was wasteful in possession but to cut him some slack he was starved of any decent service and had to feed off scraps and poor rations. Neither Palma nor Liel Abada was able to pick the centre-forward out with a quality ball all afternoon and that should concern the Northern Irishman greatly. There is an argument to suggest that the best finisher at the club should also want to add to his tally and step up to the plate and take penalties as well. He has missed from the 12 yards before and possibly does not want to put himself on the spot again. The one he did miss against Kilmarnock unluckily slammed off the base of the post but the technique was good. Celtic badly need a penalty specialist.

Tony Haggerty