Celtic Move 12 Points Clear After Comfortable Victory Against Kilmarnock

Celtic moved 12 points clear of Rangers on Sunday after coming from behind to win against Kilmarnock.

The visitors were awarded an early penalty when Jozo Simunovic brought down Eamonn Brophy inside the box. Brophy dusted himself down before slotting home beyond Fraser Forster.

The whole of Celtic park was buzzing when receiving the news that St Johnstone had drawn against Rangers and the atmosphere lifted. It played a massive part as the Hoops scored two quickfire goals to turn the game around.

Kristoffer Ajer levelled the game with a strike from close-range before Odsonne Edouard helped the ball over the line following a goalmouth scramble to put the hosts in control.

Killie were reduced to ten-men on the 57th minute when Alan Power was shown his second yellow card for a foul of Jeremie Frimpong.

Leigh Griffiths added a third just after the hour mark when he tapped home Ryan Christie’s cross to put the match out of sight.


Team News

Neil Lennon made four changes from Copenhagen with Simunovic, Taylor, Rogic, and Griffiths all coming back. They replaced Jonny Hayes, Oliver Ntcham, James Forrest and Scott Brown.

Kilmarnock boss, Alex Dyer made just one change from their 4-3 Scottish Cup defeat against Aberdeen, with Dario Del Fabro replacing Chris Burke.


Match Report

After a shaky start from the champions, they fell behind on the fifth minute when Simunovic mistimed his challenge on Brophy and Kevin Clancy couldn’t have pointed to the penalty any quicker.

Fraser Forster, who made another excellent penalty save during the week dived the right way but couldn’t keep out Brophy’s excellent spot-kick.

To be honest, Neil Lennon’s men couldn’t have gone behind at a better time, as news came in that Stevie May had equalised for St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park against Rangers.

The Green Brigade and the full of Parkhead got behind their side, and they nearly equalised on the 19th minute when some fabulous link-up play between Rogic, Edouard and Griffiths led to the latter being sent through on goal, but Laurentiu Branescu saved well.

Celtic continued to press Killie high up and park and levelled with their next opportunity. Simunovic let fly from range and Branescu tipped over. The resulting corner was sent deep towards the back-post where Christopher Jullien picked up the ball before firing across goal for Ajer, who slammed home from six-yards out to score for the second league game in a row.

The home side completed a quick turn around as they made it 2-1 six minutes later when Simunovic headed Taylor’s delivery back across the face of goal and the ball was scrambled over the line by a combination of Kirk Broadfoot and Edouard.

It was more of the same from Celtic at the start of the second half. They were passing the ball about and enjoying possession and constantly posing a threat to the back five of Kilmarnock.

On the 50th minute Taylor crossed from the left-hand side and found Griffiths but his acrobatic effort was gathered by Branescu.

Soon after, The Champions had two opportunities in quick succession to put the visitors out of reach. Firstly, when Christie and Edouard combined well, with the former eventually finding a way through on goal, before his effort curled wide. Two minutes later, Edouard was slipped in by Griffiths, but the 22-year old pulled his effort wide.

Everything went downhill for Kilmarnock in a terrible five-minute spell. On the 57th minute Alan Power received his second yellow card and was sent packing by referee Clancy.

Minutes later the home side made their extra man advantage pay off as they made it 3-1. Again, it was Edouard and Christie who worked well together, before Christie’s delivery was inch perfect for Griffiths, who had the simplest of tap-ins.

The 29-year old had the ball in the net again soon after, but it was ruled out for offside.

With Celtic’s huge game again Copenhagen in mind, it was no surprise to see Edouard and Griffiths and Rogic make way, with Mohammad Elyounoussi, Bayo and Nir Bitton coming on.

Bayo had a chance to get himself on the score sheet just two minutes after coming on, but he headed Frimpong’s excellent cross wide.

Kilmarnock handed a debut to young defender Ally Taylor, the brother of Greg Taylor to tighten up the defence and ensure they conceded no more, and they did exactly that.

A comfortable win for the champions, who are now 12 points ahead of Rangers and are well on their way to nine in a row.

Full Time- Celtic 3-1 Kilmarnock


 

CELTIC XI:

Forster; Simunovic, Jullien, Ajer; McGregor, Frimpong, Rogic (Elyounoussi 74), Christie, Taylor; Griffiths (Bitton 82), Edouard (Bayo 74)

Subs unused: Bain, Klimala, Bauer, Bolingoli

KILMARNOCK:

Branescu, O’Donnell, Power, Dicker, Brophy (Kiltie 66), Hamalainen, El Makrini (Burke 46), Findlay, Broadfoot, Del Fabro (Taylor 70), Kabamba

Subs unused: Koprivec, Johnson, Millen, Connel


 

Referee-  Kevin Clancy

Attendance- 58,883

Goals- Brophy(5), Ajer(27), Edouard(33), Griffiths(62)

Yellow Cards- El Makrini(21), Power(45,57), McGregor(67),

Red Cards- Power(57)

 

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