Commons strike rescues Hoops

PA Sport
Kris Commons, centre, rescued a point for Celtic with a late equaliser

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Kris Commons, centre, rescued a point for Celtic with a late equaliser

A dramatic injury-time goal by Kris Commons gave Celtic a point in a 1-1 draw against Clydesdale Bank Premier League new boys Ross County at Victoria Park.

There were four minutes gone in the second half when Hoops defender Mikael Lustig fouled Mark Corcoran 20 yards from goal and Parkhead goalkeeper Fraser Forster had no chance when Staggies skipper Richard Brittain fired the free-kick high past him and into the net.

It looked like the Highland side would hold on for their first league win over the Glasgow giants but, in the third minute of added time, Commons pounced to tap the ball into the net from close range after County keeper Michael Fraser had spilled a shot from Hoops substitute Tony Watt, who had replaced Lustig.

Stuart Kettlewell should have scored for the home side in the ninth minute when defender Mark Fitzpatrick planted a cross from the left on to his head but he somehow missed the target from six yards out. Colin McMenamin had the ball in the visitors' net but the offside flag had been raised long before the Staggies striker slipped the ball past Forster.

The champions announced their arrival in the game soon afterwards when midfielder Beram Kayal's lofted ball to the back post found wing-back Emilio Izaguirre, who knocked it back into the middle only for Georgios Samaras to head limply over the bar.

It was Celtic's turn to miss a great chance in the 25th minute when Samaras headed Charlie Mulgrew's long ball into the path of Commons giving him time to pick his spot from 10 yards, but Fraser made a good save with his legs. With 10 minutes of the first half remaining and Celtic on top, Victor Wanyama headed a Commons corner off the bar.

Brittain's free-kick four minutes after the break, after Lustig had fouled Corcoran 20 yards from goal, gave Forster no chance as it flew high past the big Geordie and into the top corner. Two minutes later, Samaras went down in the Ross County box after a challenge from Brittain but referee Craig Thomson ignored the penalty appeals.

In the 57th minute, after County defender Ross Tokely had clumsily fouled Commons 20 yards out, Mulgrew curled in a left-footed free-kick which clipped the bar. In the 74th minute, as the Highland side broke, Corcoran's cross to the other side of the box was met on the volley by Rocco Quinn but his goal-bound effort was blocked by Mulgrew.

Celtic's desperation increased and Paul Slane made his top-team debut in the 78th minute when he replaced Kelvin Wilson, but as the Staggies broke again moments later, Brittain crashed a 30-yard shot off the bar with Forster beaten.

In the 88th minute Fraser made a great save from Samaras' close-range header, following a Mulgrew cross, and Beram Kayal and Tony Watt came close with efforts. It seemed like County would hold out but Commons struck with seconds remaining to show why the Hoops are champions.

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