Late Commons strike rescues point for Celtic
Ross County 1 Celtic 1
A dramatic injury-time goal by Kris Commons salvaged a point for Celtic against Premier League new boys Ross County at Victoria Park. But County's manager Derek Adams was left raging after referee Craig Thomson's decision to add three minutes of injury time allowed Commons to scramble the late equaliser.
County led thanks to a wonderful Richard Brittain free-kick just after the break, and it looked like they would hold on for a famous win over the Glasgow giants. However, with seconds remaining, Commons pounced to tap the ball into the net from close range after County goalkeeper Michael Fraser had spilled a shot from Hoops substitute Tony Watt, who had replaced Mikael Lustig.
Adams said: "There were three minutes of injury time and I don't know where that came from. We didn't make any substitutions and there wasn't an injury in the second half.
"The assistant referee told me it was because the ball didn't come back quick enough. Well, I'm sorry, that's just life. We are not allowed ball rotation in the SPL so why would he add a minute and a half for that? I have no idea."
County took the lead in spectacular fashion. There were four minutes gone in the second half when Hoops defender Lustig fouled Mark Corcoran 20 yards from goal and Staggies skipper Brittain made no mistake as he fired the free-kick high past Fraser Forster in the Celtic goal.
Two minutes later, with the ecstatic home support still celebrating, Celtic thought they should have had a penalty. Georgios Samaras went down in the Ross County box after a challenge from Brittain but referee Thomson ignored the appeals.
County had to defend desperately in the closing minutes as Celtic swarmed around their penalty area looking for the equaliser. It seemed like they would hold out, until Commons struck.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon celebrated the leveller with some gusto, brushing aside suggestions his side were lucky to come away with a point.
"People say we rescued the game but from where I was stood we should have won comfortably," he said. "I'm not going to gloss over and say it was a great performance, it is a good result for us."
A lengthy injury list meant that Lennon had to reshuffle his side, with Greece striker Samaras leading the line, supported by Commons, while Lustig, Kelvin Wilson and Charlie Mulgrew formed a back three.
The Celtic manager said: "We had 11 players missing, four of them front-line strikers, but I am not using that as an excuse. We missed good chances, easy chances and realistically we should have won the game."
Despite the late leveller, the draw stretches County's unbeaten league run to 37 games, while Celtic will be hoping to play better in their next match – a Champions' League first-round tie against Helsingborg in Sweden on Tuesday night.
Ross County (4-5-1): Fraser; Fitzpatrick, Munro, Boyd, Tokely; Kettlewell, Brittain, Vigurs, Quinn, Corcoran; McMenamin.
Celtic (3-5-2): Forster; Lustig (Watt, 64), Wilson (Slane, 77), Mulgrew; Matthews, Izaguirre, Kayal, Wanyama, Ledley; Samaras, Commons.
Referee Craig Thomson.
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