Celtic returned to within a point of rivals Rangers after a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. After the 3-2 defeat to Inverness in midweek, Celtic were under huge pressure to get back to winning ways in the hope of salvaging a glimmer of a chance of securing the SPL title with two games remaining after today’s visit to Kilmarnock.
Celtic took until injury time in the first half to break the deadlock, when Scott Brown headed home from six yards out. Kilmarnock had a number of chances, but failed to test Fraser Forster in the Celtic goal, and Kris Commons sealed all three points on 68 minutes with a superb strike.
Celtic made four changes to the side that lost to Inverness in midweek, with Stokes missing through suspension, Kayal out injured and Maloney & Mulgrew dropping to the bench.
Kilmarnock started the game the brighter of the two sides and could have taken the lead after eight minutes when James Dayton found space just outside the box and fired just past Forster’s near post, after good work from Alexei Eremenko and Craig Bryson.
At the other end Momo Sissoko made a poor clearance to allow Daryl Murphy a chance at goal, but the former Sunderland striker fired his shot wide from the edge of the box.
On 20 minutes, Celtic had the ball in the net but striker Gary Hooper was flagged offside as he prodded home a Majstorovic header, which Cammy Bell had saved initially. Celtic were toiling to break down the Killie defence and Commons resorted to a couple of long-range efforts.
However the former Derby midfielder came closeron the half hour mark when his 25 yard free kick grazed the crossbar, and he was denied again by the linesman, having poked the ball into the Killie goal when the ball broke to him in a offside position.
Eremenko tried his luck from outside the box but failed to trouble Forster in the Celtic goal.
And with half time fast approaching Celtic finally made the break through with skipper Scott Brown leading by example. Daryl Murphy sent across deep to the back post, youngster James Forrest headed back cross goal and Brown dived to head the ball into the back of the net.
After the break, Celtic were more relaxed and started brightly. But Celtic were still susceptible to gaffes at the back, as Majstorovic was caught on the ball at the edge of Celtic’s box, but the Swede was bailed out by defensive partner Thomas Rogne for a saving tackle on Kieran Agard.
On 68 minutes, Celtic settled their fans nerves as they got their second goal of the game, with Kris Commons scoring yet again. The midfielder latched onto a pass from Brown and drilled his effort into the top corner of Cammy Bell’s net from 25 yards out.
Kilmarnock failed to trouble Celtic in the second half and looked lacklustre in the final stages of the game, with Celtic finishing the game comfortably.
Neil Lennon and his Celtic side will now be looking towards Tuesday in the hope that Dundee United can take points of league leaders Rangers,with the Parkhead side playing Hearts the following day.
KILMARNOCK (4-4-1-1): Bell; Clancy, Sissoko (Pursehouse 57) Pascalli, Hay; Dayton (Fisher 78) Kelly, Bryson, Da Silva, (Taouil 65); Eremenko; Agard.
Subs Not Used: Letheren, , Berntsson, Gros, , Aubameyang
CELTIC (4-4-2): Forster; Wilson, Majstorovic, Rogne, Izaguirre (Mulgrew 70); Forrest (Maloney 65), Brown, Ki, Commons; Murphy, Hooper (McCourt 86).
Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Juarez, McGinn, Cha
Man of the Match: Scott Brown