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David Turnbull. Alamy Stock Photo
In From The Cold

Celtic victorious in first match since Brendan Rodgers' return as manager

The champions kicked off their season with a 4-2 win at home to Ross County.

DAVID TURNBULL SEIZED his fresh start with a double as Celtic opened the Scottish Premiership season with a 4-2 home victory over Ross County.

Brendan Rodgers preferred Turnbull to Reo Hatate in his first competitive match since returning as Celtic manager and the midfielder vindicated his faith with two first-half efforts which sandwiched Kyogo Furuhashi’s goal.

The 24-year-old had not started a league game since November 12 last year and looked an increasingly peripheral figure during Ange Postecoglou’s second season in charge.

Turnbull was named the club’s man of the match and probably should have a had a hat-trick as he revelled in playing in the advanced role in Rodgers’ three-man midfield ahead of Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley.

Rodgers also made a big decision in central defence as Maik Nawrocki made his debut ahead of Carl Starfelt, who came off the bench later on.

Jordan White had netted for the visitors by that stage and O’Riley restored Celtic’s three-goal cushion before James Brown’s deflected effort provided further consolation for the visitors.

The County players and manager Malky Mackay gave the champions a guard of honour as they entered the field before Celtic substitute James Forrest raised the league flag.

The visitors did not stand back when the whistle blew. Mackay’s side got men forward in numbers and had an early chance when both Simon Murray and Josh Sims were unable to turn home from close range.

Murray then turned inside Anthony Ralston before being denied by a Cameron Carter-Vickers block.

Ralston looked rusty early on after missing much of pre-season and his lofted back pass put Joe Hart under pressure. The goalkeeper chested the ball down before being dispossessed by Murray, who stumbled and ran the ball out before appealing in vain for a penalty.

Celtic soon had a spot-kick after Sims caught Greg Taylor as the left-back latched on to a bouncing ball. Turnbull sent Ross Laidlaw the wrong way to open the scoring 17 minutes into the season.

The goalscorer was involved as Celtic doubled their lead in the 26th minute, heading the ball on following Ralston’s clearance to leave County exposed. Celtic punished them clinically as Furuhashi swept home Liel Abada’s pass.

Turnbull was denied by a double save from Laidlaw after being played through by the Japanese striker, but he soon got his second goal in the 42nd minute.

O’Riley played a one-two with Furuhashi and stood the ball up to the back post where the former Motherwell midfielder found the roof of the net.

Celtic dominated the opening stages of the second half and Laidlaw made a double stop from O’Riley and Daizen Maeda.

But County made their eighth corner of the game count on the hour mark when White sent a looping header into the top corner from Yan Dhanda’s inswinging delivery.

Hatate replaced Turnbull and Starfelt came on before O’Riley blasted a right-footed shot high into the net after Furuhashi’s first-time through-ball in the 73rd minute.

Some heavy touches from Furuhashi twice cost him the chance to add to Celtic’s tally before Odin Thiago Holm and Yang Hyun-jun came on for their competitive debuts.

Yang played an impressive part in a sweeping counter-attack which ended with Laidlaw making an excellent stop from Forrest.

County got reward for continuing to commit men forward when former Drogheda United defender James Brown fired home in the fifth minute of stoppage time when his shot went in off Starfelt’s leg.

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Written by Press Association and posted on the42.ie

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