Celtic stumbled their way to an unconvincing 1-0 home victory against Ross County yesterday afternoon, as the side maintained their five-point advantage over Rangers at the top of the Premiership table.

Brendan Rodgers’ team would score the only goal of the game less than a minute into proceedings, as Alistair Johnston’s deflected strike trickled into the back of the net. Despite controlling possession for large spells of the game – and several gilt-edged chances – the game would be decided by a single goal, as Celtic kept their third clean sheet on the bounce.

READ MORE: Celtic Instant Analysis: Johnston goal masks poor showing

Using StatsBomb’s analytical data, here are all of the analytics, graphs and key information stemming from a largely uninspiring afternoon at Celtic Park…

Trendline, xG and stats

As previously suggested, Celtic were by far the more dominant team in yesterday’s encounter. This is shown in the match stats from the game, as the home side had 70 per cent possession and 18 shots, with seven of them testing the goalkeeper. A commanding display in these two metrics, but not enough to command a higher and more comfortable scoreline.

The xG race chart shows a pretty even contest for most of the first half by the way of opportunities on goal, though Celtic’s number increases exponentially due to Palma’s missed penalty being a high-xG opportunity. The winger is lucky that StatsBomb only counts his retake, as his xG without a goal would have been extraordinarily high despite missing two successive spot-kicks.

As expected, Palma’s penalty was the highest xG score for a single opportunity in the game, scoring 0.78 in xG, before increasing to 0.88 in PSxG. Will Nightingale’s header from a corner scored 0.38 in xG - by far the highest for Ross County on the day – as his header hit the woodwork.

Celtic lined up in their usual 4-3-3 formation for this game, welcoming captain Callum McGregor back to the side following an extended winter break for the Scotland international. It was a first start of the season for Alexandro Bernabei, who replaced the injured Greg Taylor at left-back, in turn costing Maik Nawrocki a place in the starting line-up for the third straight game. The home side came up against a stuffy 4-2-3-1 formation set up by Derek Adams, who looked to overflow the midfield with bodies to negate the effectiveness of the likes of Matt O’Riley and Paulo Bernardo, which turned out to be the case on the day.

Looking at Celtic’s passing network graph – which evaluates players in OBV (On Ball Values) – It is clear to see that there were perhaps better possession-based performances than what was first thought. This is shown in the warmer colours, which indicates effectiveness in their usage of the ball at their feet.

 Unfortunately for Celtic, the player furthest forward who got pass marks was O’Riley, perhaps pointing to the lack of quality and/or service to players like Kyogo Furuhashi, Luis Palma and Liel Abada. Only Bernabei failed to post a warm-coloured total in the Celtic defence, as the Argentina left-back struggled to get going throughout the game. McGregor was the home side’s top OBV performer on the day, achieving 0.24 for 74 passes, whilst Liam Scales had 0.22 for 97 of his passes. Bernardo had -0.07 for 43 of his own passes combined.

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The graph in general shows a real disconnect between the attack and the rest of the team, which is potentially why no goals came from any of the attackers. Instead, it was a deflected effort from Johnston which was the difference between the two sides.

Celtic’s top key passers on the day do not exactly make for brilliant reading or viewing, either. Their joint-highest total was two, an accolade shared by Palma and Scales. The fact that the latter – a central defender – was leading the way on the day is a damning indictment of how ineffectual the midfield was concerning creativity. Johnston, McGregor and Kyogo all had one key pass each.


Observing Celtic’s shot map for yesterday’s match, it is clear to see that the majority of chances happened inside the opposition’s box. Two of their best opportunities occur in near enough the exact same area of the pitch, as Palma’s penalty and Bernardo’s open goal miss were both situated either on or around the penalty spot. It is no surprise that these two chances generated the most xG for the home side in this game. Despite this, the Celtic goal came from a deflected shot outside of the box, situated next to the semi-circle of the opposition’s area that Johnston claimed, which was his first conversion of the season.

Following a run down the byline by Bernabei, the ball ricocheted its way to Johnston, who took a speculative shot. The strike changed course thanks to a deflection by Nightingale, before rolling over the line past George Wickens in the Ross County goal. Despite only originally scoring 0.04 in xG, its value rose to 0.39 thanks to the direction of the deflection, as well as the goalkeeper’s position on his line. An unattractive goal, but the only one Celtic needed to secure the three points at home.

In terms of Celtic’s top shooting outlets on the day, Palma again led the way with four, whilst Abada and McGregor had three each. The former had an accumulated xG of 0.89, thanks to the nature of xG being high in penalty kick scenarios. Midfield duo O’Riley and Bernardo both had two to their name each.

Pressing and defending

Celtic initialised 151 pressures in yesterday’s game, regaining the ball back 33 times as a result of those actions. Individually, Bernabei was the side’s best contributor in the game with 26, as well as seven counterpressures to match. Bernardo was only a couple behind on 24, with five of the latter being down to the Portugal U21 internationalist’s grit and drive.

Judging by the pressure heatmap for Celtic yesterday, it seems as if the bulk of the pressurising of the opponent occurred on the wings, which makes sense, given Bernabei’s impressive numbers in this metric.

READ MORE: Celtic's Rodgers says he may strip Palma of penalty duties

Bernabei also topped Celtic’s combined tackles + interceptions with eight combined Paulo Bernardo was second once again with four in total.

Perhaps the standout statistic from today’s match comes from Scales, who had 14 clearances over the 90 minutes of play. By comparison, the next highest number is 5, which is shared by three different Celtic players. Scales also won the most aerial duels with seven, a game-high for both teams.