Brendan Rodgers hails much-changed Celtic side for wearing down Ross Co

County dug in after James Brown was sent off early on.

Brendan Rodgers hails much-changed Celtic side for wearing down 10-man Ross Co SNS Group

Brendan Rodgers praised his much-changed Celtic team for the way they ground down a spirited 10-man Ross County side to move eight points clear at the top of the cinch Premiership.

The hosts had James Brown sent off early on and they kept the Hoops out until deep into first-half stoppage time when David Turnbull broke the deadlock.

Celtic eventually killed off County – whose goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw was in inspired form – with goals from substitutes Luis Palma and James Forrest.

Rodgers, who made six changes ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid in Spain, was pleased with the energy and patience of his team.

“We made a number of changes to bring new energy in the team,” said the Hoops boss. “It’s difficult when they get the man sent off early because it means it’s a game of attack v defence. But we had some really good chances before taking the lead.

“It was a game where we needed some energy from the guys at the beginning. We scored some fantastic goals and their keeper made some brilliant saves.

“Credit to County, they lose a man so early. You can unravel or stick at it and keep going and they did that.”

Hyeongyu Oh, Paulo Bernardo, Anthony Ralston and Hyunjun Yang were among the players handed starts in Dingwall.

“It’s all about the team,” he said. “It’s not about cementing your place in the team, it’s about contributing to the performance. The guys came in and worked very hard and were steady and concentrated.”

Prior to taking the lead, Celtic had two goals chalked off. Liam Scales had the ball in the net from close range but it was ruled out as Oh was deemed to have pushed Jordan White in the build-up.

Later in the first half, Oh netted from close range but the celebrations were cut short when VAR adjudged that Daizen Maeda had strayed offside when running on to Bernardo’s pass on the right.

“I thought the first goal that was disallowed should have been a goal,” said Rodgers. “It was two defenders challenging for the ball. I don’t know where the foul was and it takes an eternity to find out if it was a goal or not. The offside looks really close. I’d have to see it again.”

County boss Malky Mackay was proud of the way his team competed after the early red card – although he was irked that Celtic’s opener came in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time, when a minimum of six minutes had been signalled.

“We got a mountain to climb when we go to 10 men,” said Mackay. “It was a sending off, James has apologised but he didn’t see him. He came from his blind side so you can’t say too much to him.

“Coming towards half-time we’d weathered the storm and to lose the goal at six minutes and six seconds – which is surprising and interesting – it was a great strike and the only place he could have put it for the goalie not to get to it.

“But we stuck at it, we were disciplined and organised. I have to be proud of my team.”

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