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EX-CELT SPOTS CHAMPIONS’ FLAWS

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FORMER Celtic striker Chris Sutton pinpointed his old side’s defensive frailties – BEFORE the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park yesterday.

Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer had a miserable afternoon in Ayrshire as they were confronted by the bustling Nicke Karamba whose persistence led to the home side being awarded a first-half penalty-kick.

Ryan Christie had given the nine-in-a-row champions an 11th-minute advantage with a spectacular long-range free-kick that dipped and swerved beyond Killie keeper Danny Rodgers.

However, Alex Dyer’s side were gifted a route back into the encounter when Jullien unaccountably pulled back Karamba in the box for a certain spot-kick.

Former Scotland international winger Chris Burke didn’t give debutant keeper Vasilis Barkas an earthly with a low drive into the corner of the net.

The Hoops struggled to break through the defence-in-depth tactics of Killie that smothered anything near their danger zone and two points were shed during a frustrating afternoon for the visitors.

It had been an entirely different story the previous weekend, of course, when Hamilton Accies were turned over 5-1 during the Premiership opener with Odsonne Edouard helping himself to a hat-trick with others from Jeremie Frimpong and Patryk Klimala.

But Sutton spotted some flaws and, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Accies still created some chances and that must have been a concern for Neil Lennon.

“As yet, there is still no back-up for Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer at centre-back and there is also a case to be made for signing someone to go in and compete for the place.

“Now perhaps Jullien and Ajer were slightly off their game against Accies because they thought it might be a bit of a stroll, but you’d have to be alarmed at the way Hamilton’s strikers got about them.

“There was a corner in the second-half that was identical to the one where Ajer lost Nikola Katic and won the Old Firm derby for Rangers at Parkhead last December. Marios Ogkmpoe lost Jullien and couldn’t finish, but it was the same run not picked up.

“Greg Taylor was a revelation going forward, but David Moyo had a cracking chance at the near post in the first-half because the left-back didn’t do enough to stop a cross. Martin O’Neill would not have accepted that.

“He used to bang on about stopping crosses and Neil will be the same.

“Maybe I’m being ultra harsh. But these are the little warnings which need to be heeded.”

Clearly, that wasn’t the case at Rugby Park and boss Lennon will have to make sure there is no repeat in Paisley on Wednesday night against a St Mirren side routed 3-0 by Rangers at Ibrox yesterday.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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