Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou expressed satisfaction over his squad’s strength in depth after late call-up Moritz Jenz scored a crucial debut goal against Ross County.
The on-loan Lorient centre-back headed home Celtic’s second goal in the 84th minute before the cinch Premiership champions went on to seal a 3-1 victory in Dingwall.
With Carl Starfelt only just recovered from a hamstring injury, the German defender was drafted into the team after Stephen Welsh was ruled out through illness after Friday’s training session, and he made his mark in dramatic fashion.
Postecoglou said: “Yeah, he was great. He has been training well, he has fitted in really well. I keep saying, these guys, you see them on weekends but I see them every day.
“The level of training is really high at the moment. Everyone is putting their best foot forward, which makes training pretty competitive, so if I have to make a change to the line-up for whatever reason I’m really confident about the guys coming in.
“Obviously they have to take their opportunity but they are ready for that opportunity.
“It was a different game for him. There was a lot of contests he needed to win in the air, but he also had a lot of the ball and I really thought he showed some real good composure considering he has only been with us for a couple of weeks. It’s a great way for him to start his Celtic career.”
Celtic opened the scoring in the 48th minute when Jota cut back for Kyogo Furuhashi to slot home but Alex Iacovitti headed home from a corner 10 minutes later.
Joe Hart made a good stop from County substitute Owura Edwards before Celtic edged home late on when Jota set up further goals for Jenz and sub Liel Abada.
Postecoglou said: “We know it’s a difficult place to come and it’s a difficult team to play, and with the conditions being as they are with the wind, you know it’s going to be a real challenge.
“But credit to the players, from start to finish we played it on our terms. We were patient when we needed to be, we got a goal I thought we deserved.
“They scored from a corner which is always a possibility, they are a big strong team.
“But our response was outstanding. We stuck to our task, played our football, scored another good goal and even then there was no thought of stopping there, we got our third and I’m really pleased with every aspect of our game.”
County manager Malky Mackay had worked hard on his tactical plan and was frustrated for his players that they did not get their rewards for following it out.
“It’s been a tough week in terms of the work we’ve done off the pitch in terms of the tactical messages I have given them and the footage we have watched,” said Mackay, who revealed full-back Connor Randall would go to hospital to get a lower-leg injury assessed.
“We play in a manner that doesn’t allow us to be carved open because we were playing against a Champions League team.
“At the same time we needed the belief to, at times, threaten their goal, which we did.
“I was heartbroken for them because they were four or five minutes from putting in a performance that really puts people’s heads up in Scottish football saying ‘what’s going on there?’”