Ross County moved out of the Scottish Premiership relegation places after their second win over Celtic this season all but ended their visitors’ slim title hopes.
Jordan White’s 71st-minute header hauled County up to 10th and added to their League Cup win in November.
Celtic dominated possession but created little on another dispiriting night for Neil Lennon’s reigning champions.
They are left trailing Rangers by 18 points with eight games left.
That means Gerrard’s side would guarantee the title with a draw in the Old Firm game on 21 March, should they win their next two games.
However, they could win it as soon as 6 March, if Celtic lose to Aberdeen next Saturday.
- Lennon apologises to fans after defeat
- Podcast: What is the future for Celtic?
- Reaction & as it happened
Celtic arrived in Dingwall on form. Five wins in a row, with 13 scored. In contrast, County had conceded 11 in their last last five and had found themselves rooted to the bottom of the table.
The visitors cleaved out first-half chances, but County did too. Scott Bain had to tip wide a dangerous Blair Spittal pile-driver towards the near post, and Tony Andreu headed over from the corner.
Celtic were always going create something, and when Odsonne Edouard outpaced the defence and was first onto a miskick from Laidlaw, he cut-back to Ryan Christie who looked certain to make it 1-0. But the Scotland international blasted over from close range.
Christie headed wide and had a near-post shot saved and Diego Laxalt – who replaced the injured Grey Taylor – shot over.
But then County sucker-punched them at the other end. Harry Paton’s free-kick found White, who rose powerfully to head in off an upright in what could be a huge moment in County’s fight for survival.
Christie continued to be Celtic’s main threat but a jinking run into the box ended with another shot over.
Celtic piled on the pressure and almost broke County hearts in the final minute, but Laidlaw got his fingertips to a Mohamed Elyounoussi header.
A late, late Leigh Griffiths free-kick sailed over as County won for the first time against Celtic in the league for eight years, and the second time in three months.
Man of the match – Michael Gardyne
What did we learn?
County have had a knack this season of producing the best results against the bigger sides. They have won at Easter Road and Celtic Park and hammered Aberdeen at home. And, in their fight to stay up, they have produced another seismic result.
Celtic all too often tried to play too much football on a pitch that was unforgiving. Despite an enormous amount of the ball, home goalkeeper Laidlaw will have had busier nights.
What did they say?
Ross County manager John Hughes: “Absolutely fantastic. We knew there would be long periods where we wouldn’t have the ball but we defended for our lives. We rode our luck a little bit but the chances we gave up were mistakes of our own doing.
“Tactically we were spot on all night. We’ve been banging on about set-pieces for a while so it’s really pleasing to get one from a free-kick.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “It’s a strange one. It’s another poor goal from a set-piece. But I think we played well tonight and did enough to win the game.
“The goal is inexcusable. Our defenders don’t seem to want to defend this season. We do the work on the training pitch but if the players don’t attack the ball there’s not much you can do. It’s been a running theme for us this season for whatever reason.”
Ross County travel to St Mirren on Saturday (15:00 GMT), and at the same time Celtic will be at home to Aberdeen.
Player of the match
with an average of 9.53
Squad number18Player nameKelly
Squad number3Player nameTremarco
Squad number22Player nameTillson
Squad number20Player nameSpittal
Squad number19Player nameLakin
Squad number24Player namePaton
Squad number7Player nameGardyne
Squad number16Player nameIacovitti
Squad number26Player nameWhite
Squad number17Player nameCharles-Cook
Squad number15Player nameWatson
Squad number6Player nameDraper
Squad number23Player nameNaismith
Squad number5Player nameMorris
Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw
Squad number28Player nameAndreu
Squad number57Player nameWelsh
Squad number29Player nameBain
Squad number14Player nameTurnbull
Squad number35Player nameAjer
Squad number16Player nameKenny
Squad number17Player nameChristie
Squad number42Player nameMcGregor
Squad number93Player nameLaxalt
Squad number3Player nameTaylor
Squad number22Player nameEdouard
Squad number18Player nameRogic
Squad number8Player nameBrown
Squad number9Player nameGriffiths
Squad number27Player nameElyounoussi
- 5MorrisSubstituted forWatsonat 42′minutes
- 20SpittalSubstituted forPatonat 60′minutes
- 18KellySubstituted forTillsonat 69′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 7GardyneSubstituted forDraperat 69′minutes
- 28AndreuSubstituted forCharles-Cookat 69′minutes
- 3TaylorSubstituted forLaxaltat 9′minutes
- 18RogicSubstituted forGriffithsat 67′minutes
- 17ChristieSubstituted forElyounoussiat 83′minutes
Match ends, Ross County 1, Celtic 0.
Second Half ends, Ross County 1, Celtic 0.
Attempt missed. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.
Jordan Tillson (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jordan Tillson (Ross County).
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Ross Laidlaw.
Attempt saved. Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by David Turnbull with a cross.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Charlie Lakin.
Attempt blocked. Callum McGregor (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by David Turnbull.
Foul by Diego Laxalt (Celtic).
Jordan White (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Diego Laxalt (Celtic).
Jordan White (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Diego Laxalt (Celtic).
Regan Charles-Cook (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Celtic. Mohamed Elyounoussi replaces Ryan Christie.
Attempt missed. Ryan Christie (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.
Attempt saved. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Callum McGregor.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Ross Draper.