Anthony Ralston’s dramatic injury-time winner at Ross County kept Celtic four points behind Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership, despite Carl Starfelt’s red card for the visitors.
The Celtic manager, Ange Postecoglou, was missing six attackers as he tackles an injury crisis, but the makeshift striker Liel Abada put the robust visitors ahead in the 21st minute with a close-range finish. The struggling hosts levelled in the 57th minute as the defender Jack Baldwin struck from a corner.
Starfelt was sent off by the referee Alan Muir in the 80th minute for picking up two yellow cards, and it looked like Celtic would have to settle for a draw in Dingwall. Then in the final minute of six added on Ralston headed home Tom Rogic’s cross to spark wild celebrations in the away end at Victoria Park.
Celtic were without the injured forwards Kyogo Furuhashi, Albian Ajeti, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Jota, plus the wingers James Forrest and Mikey Johnston. It remains to be seen whether any of that group will be fit for the League Cup final against Hibernian on Sunday, but Postecoglou can take confidence from this hard-fought win.
“I’m super proud of them, really happy they got their rewards in the end,” Postecoglou said after the match. “They had to put up with a lot of adversity but they kept playing their football and got a deserved winning goal. I thought with 10 men we still tried to play and win the game of football, and in adversity we didn’t just launch it long.”
“I don’t think we got the rub of the decisions tonight, a few went against us,” the Australian coach added. “I said to the boys, ‘we won’t complain about it, we will just win games and let that speak for itself.’ A few went against us tonight but … hopefully these things even themselves out.”
The Ross County manager, Malky Mackay, took a different view, complaining that the referee should have blown for full-time before Ralston’s winner. “They scored in the seventh minute of added-on time, I don’t know how that happened,” Mackay said. “It felt at one point as if we were playing until they scored.”
Rangers comfortably beat St Johnstone 2-0 at Ibrox, securing Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s fifth consecutive league win since replacing Steven Gerrard. The champions were on top from the start against the league’s bottom side, with Ryan Kent forcing two good saves from Zander Clark and Joe Aribo hitting the post.
The hosts broke the deadlock two minutes before half-time as Alfredo Morelos nodded home Connor Goldson’s flick-on at a corner. Rangers continued to dominate after the restart, and got their second when Aribo’s pass sent Morelos away down the right, the striker picking out Kent in space to sweep home.
The visitors came back into the game, Jamie McCart off target with a free header and Liam Craig booked for dissent after a hopeful penalty appeal was turned down. The main excitement for the home fans was news of Ross County’s leveller, but Ralston’s late winner denied Rangers the chance to pull six points clear at the top.