A last-minute goal from Kris Commons helped Neil Lennon's men snatch a draw from their Highland visit to Dingwall as the Glasgow giants prepare to meet Helsingborgs
An injury-time strike by Kris Commons helped a depleted Celtic claim a point against Scottish Premier League newcomers Ross County.
The champions found themselves behind after a superb free-kick from Richard Brittain looked to have handed the Highland outfit the win, only for Neil Lennon’s charges to show a never-say-die attitude to come away with a draw.
Celtic found it hard going against the SPL newcomers in the opening stages as Ian Vigurs had a chance to put the Staggies into the lead early on, but his shot whistled past Fraser Forster’s post.
Stuart Kettlewell then got onto a cross from the left wing by Marc Fitzpatrick, but the midfielder’s effort also went wide of goal.
Ross County had the ball in the back of the net just before the quarter-hour mark as Colin McMenamin converted a cross from the right-hand side, but the striker and team-mate Mark Corcoran were called correctly offside.
The SPL champions then sprung into life, with Georgios Samaras having a chance from close range after Emilio Izaguirre had knocked down a Beram Kayal cross into the path of the Greek striker, but he could not find the finish.
Celtic continued to pile the pressure on the Highland outfit, with Commons swinging a corner from the right wing, which Victor Wanyama got onto, but his effort at goal was saved by County keeper Michael Fraser.
Commons then had a chance himself to help Celtic take the lead as he got onto a Samaras knockdown from a cross from the left wing, but the strike from the former Derby County midfielder rebounded off the legs of Fraser and away from danger.
The SPL new boys came out positively for the start of the second half, as Vigurs made his way down the left wing, before trying a shot from the wide angle which only managed to find the roof of Forster’s net.
And Celtic were made to pay four minutes into the half, as Mikael Lustig brought down Corcoran on the edge of the area and Brittain stepped up and rifled the ball beyond the outstretched arms of Forster and into the back of the net.
The visitors then had a shout for a penalty kick only minutes later as Samaras danced into the box, beating two Ross County defenders before going down under the challenge of Brittain, but referee Craig Thomson waved away the claims for a spot kick.
Just before the hour mark Celtic had an opportunity to get back on level terms as Commons got the ball just inside the Ross County half and, after taking a short run, unleashed a long-range drive that swerved in front of Fraser, but the Staggies keeper managed to get his body in the way to save his side.
The Parkhead side hit the crossbar for the second time in the game as Charlie Mulgrew curled a free-kick from 25 yards over the top of the Ross County wall and beyond the outstretched arms of Fraser, but unfortunately for the Hoops skipper his effort cracked off the woodwork and out of play.
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And, with the game continually swerving in each team’s favour, the home side could have doubled their lead a Corcoran made his way down the left-hand side before crossing to the back post for Rocco Quinn, but the former Celtic youngster found his effort deflected by Mulgrew out of play.
With 10 minutes left in the game it was Ross County’s turn to rattle the bar as Brittain got hold of the ball in the middle of the Celtic half and smashed the ball towards goal, but unfortunately for the midfielder his strike hit the bar and the rebound was cleared by the defence.
Celtic should have pulled themselves level with only minutes left on the clock; firstly Samaras had a header from a Mulgrew cross saved by Fraser, then Kayal had an effort from a long throw by Adam Matthews go over the bar.
Deep into injury time Celtic finally got on level terms as substitute Tony Watt’s strike from the right wing was saved by Fraser, but he could only put it into the path of Commons who slammed the ball into the net to claim a point.