Giorgos Giakoumakis’s hat-trick sends Celtic six points clear in Scotland

Greek striker continues brilliant form against 10-man Ross County

Celtic 4 Ross County 0

Giorgos Giakoumakis bagged a successive Parkhead hat-trick as Celtic moved six points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 4-0 rout of 10-man Ross County.

A double from the Greece striker and a counter from fellow attacker Daizen Maeda preceded the dismissal of Kayne Ramsay for a foul on Tom Rogic, with all this drama taking place in the first 28 minutes.

The Hoops onslaught continued in the second half with Giakoumakis scoring a penalty on the hour mark for another hat-trick following his treble at home against Dundee last month.

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Pressure moves to second-placed Rangers, who travel to bottom side Dundee on Sunday.

However, Celtic have not lost a league game since a 1-0 defeat at Livingston in September and, with seven league games remaining, are showing no signs of letting up with their trip to Ibrox after the international break taking on even more importance.

Battered and bruised County, meanwhile, have to recover from their first defeat in four games as they bid for a top-half finish.

There was a minute's applause before the game in tribute to former Celtic coach and caretaker boss Frank Connor who recently died aged 86 before Jota, who returned along with Rogic, began a convincing Hoops performance by firing just over the bar.

County seemed to settle into the match but were first undone when Jota floated a cross to the back post where Giakoumakis rose highest to head in from close range for his 10th of the season.

Moments later, there was a penalty shout for handball by Staggies attacker Joseph Hungbo in County's penalty box but referee Don Robertson waved play on.

However, the home side did not have to wait too long for their second and Giakoumakis again used his head to good effect.

The Greek forward's first effort, after Jota's cross to the back post was headed back by Maeda, was cleared off the line by centre back Jack Baldwin but the striker simply headed the ball back into the corner of the net.

County goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw made saves from a Maeda header and a Callum McGregor drive but from the latter corner, in the 26th minute, the league leaders added a third.

Jota’s delivery was headed by Giakoumakis towards Maeda, who wrong-footed Laidlaw from a few yards out.

It got worse for the visitors moments later when Ramsay, on loan from Southampton, was shown a straight red for a challenge on Rogic which had the Hoops fans incensed.

Keith Watson replaced Hungbo as County boss Malky Mackay reshuffled, with Rogic limping off to be replaced by Matt O'Riley, who soon came close with a drive from the edge of the box.

Celtic's pressure was relentless before and after the break and when referee Robertson judged that County defender Alex Iacovitti handled inside the box, Giakoumakis sent Laidlaw the wrong way with the penalty to claim another match ball.

There was a bonus for Hoops fans in the 73rd minute when midfielder David Turnbull came off the bench following a three-month lay-off with a hamstring tear, with County desperately holding out to avoid further punishment.