Hooper double crowns Celtic's second-half romp

Celtic 4 Ross County 0

celtic park

Drawn against Juventus in the Champions League one moment, up against Ross County the next. Celtic, however, did not allow themselves to be distracted from Premier League business yesterday as they romped to a comfortable win underpinned by two goals from Gary Hooper.

The Scottish champions did, though, take their time to get going, dominating the first period but kept at bay by Staggies' former Celtic goalkeeper, Mark Brown, who made several fine saves. Also, the former Celtic player Rocco Quinn and Alex Cooper both missed excellent early opportunities for the visitors.

However, when the Celtic skipper, Scott Brown, struck a minute after the interval the Highlanders' resistance was broken. Hooper quickly helped himself to two classic poacher's goals before substitute James Forrest capped his return to action after being out since October with a hamstring injury by grabbing the fourth.

County approached this fixture having taken a point off the champions early in the season in Dingwall, but were without a win in eight games. And things looked ominous for them after only three minutes, the time it took for the the Hoops to create their first opening. Lassad Nouioui's header at the back post was held by Brown, who also saved smartly moments later from Charlie Mulgrew's shot on the turn after a Georgios Samaras free-kick.

It looked as though Brown was in for a long afternoon and in the 11th minute he made another good save from Hooper's close-range header after an Emilio Izaguirre cross from the left found the striker unmarked in the box. However, seconds from the break County had a chance when, with the Hoops defence static, Quinn set up Cooper, but Fraser Forster came to the rescue with a fine blocking save.

Any chance of a County upset disappeared just over a minute into the second half when Hooper set up Brown to fire in low from 14 yards. With the pressure off, Celtic relaxed and when Hooper flicked Lassad's cross past Brown with his head in the 53rd minute the points were effectively secured.

Forrest was given a rousing cheer when he replaced Beram Kayal, but it was Hooper who had the fans off their seats again in the 64th minute when he nodded in after Victor Wanyama's header from a Mulgrew corner had spun into the air.

Six minutes later Forrest sped into the County box after taking a pass from Hooper and shot past the helpless Brown.

Manager Neil Lennon will be thankful his side found their ruthlessness in the second period as victory moved Celtic five points ahead of Inverness at the top of the table.

Celtic (4-3-3): Forster; Izaguirre, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew; Kayal (Forrest, 58), Brown, Nouioui (Watt, 75); Hooper, Samaras (Herron, 83), Wanyama.

Ross County (4-5-1): Brown; Fitzpatrick, Munro, Boyd, Kovacevic; Kettlewell (Glen, 88), Brittain, Vigurs, Quinn (Lawson, 77), Cooper (Corcoran, 54); McMenamin.

Referee Euan Norris.

Man of the match Hooper (Celtic).

Match rating 6/10.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before