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Celtic travelled to the Highlands looking to make it 23 league games unbeaten and extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points over Old Firm rivals Rangers in the title race.

Ross County were in a race of their own, to avoid relegation at the opposite end of the table.

Malky Mackay handed a debut to 16-year-old Dylan Smith in central defence, whilst Celtic flexed their extensive squad muscles as Japanese international Tomoki Iwata made his first league start, whilst Matt O’Riley regained his place in the absence of Aaron Mooy and Reo Hatate.

Iwata almost marked the occasion with an assist as he found compatriot Kyogo Furuhashi in the box, where the forward spun his marker but could only direct his shot wide.

With eight minutes left of the half Jota passed up a golden opportunity to finally break the deadlock. The Portuguese winger worked space just inside the area before lashing his shot high over the bar as the score remained goalless, despite the visitors first half dominance.

Greg Taylor struck the post late in the half before Celtic were awarded a  penalty via VAR. The ball was judged to have struck Alex Iacovitti on the arm, allowing Jota to step up and convert to give the league leaders a narrow advantage at the break.