Ross County 1-2 Celtic: Ange Postecoglou's love of adversity tested to the limits amid dramatic finish in Dingwall
The relish Celtic manager Ange Postecolgou purports to hold for adversity surely was tested to its absolute limits before the extraordinary conclusion that snared his side a winner in the seventh minute of added time at Dingwall.
But, ultimately, his team, denuded of almost their entire attacking armoury beforehand and then reduced to 10-men for the closing stages, weren’t able to dig deep but dig to somewhere subterranean to fashion a 2-1 victory that could be monumental in the title race.
Dramatic doesn’t do justice to the closing stages. It was frantic, frenzied but, crucially, Celtic refused to accept what would have been a huge failure, even as the home players produced absolute heroics with blocked shot after shot as their goal was peppered.
With seconds remaining of the added time - heaved on by referee Alan Muir for a bloody facial injury sustained by Carl Starfelt that inexplicably underpinned the Swede being sent off - Tom Rogic’s craft came to the fore. With a swivel and, with bodies sardine-like around the box, he was able to flip over a cross from the right channel that Anthony Ralston rose above Jordan Tillson to crash into the net.
Bedlam ensued with scores of the Celtic support crammed behind the goal breached streaming on to the pitch, though the invasion was short-lived, Callum McGregor doing his bit to quickly usher the invaders back into the stand.
The captain stood up across the night, as, in the final analysis, did his team-mates. They kept going when it seemed like a fifth straight league win - and 10th in an 11-game unbeaten run - would prove beyond them because of wastefulness, and a slack defensive moment.
The latter came in the form of a 57th minute corner delivered by Blair Spittal that led to Jack Baldwin peeling off Liam Scales to side-foot in.
Just about the first moment of danger the in-form home side had produced as they were dominated by a Celtic playing with fluency and flourish, within 20 minutes the contest seemed as if it could get away from Postecogou’s men completely.
After Muir booked Starfelt for complaining about a flailing elbow from Jordan White that burst his nose open midway through the second period, come the 79th minute the centre-back was dismissed when he barged Regan Charles-Cooke to pick up a second yellow.
The razorsharp movement that had Malky Mackay’s team in a spin should have made the latter stages academic. But, is their won’t, Celtic did not produce the scoring moments to match their authority.
The open they did construct was scintillating, with Adam Montgmoery feeding McGregor to release Scales into space down the left and the Irish defender, on his league debut, laying a cross on a plate for emergency striker Liel Abada to stroke in from close range.
It was a calm conversion, that no-one could anticipate would give way to a storm of a finish.
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