Celtic close gap at top with Killie win
Celtic closed to within one point of Aberdeen at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a comfortable 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
Kilmarnock: Celtic closed to within one point of Aberdeen at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a comfortable 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
The score didn`t reflect the dominance of the Hoops who twice hit the crossbar through Kris Commons before Emilio Izaguirre volleyed the Glasgow giants ahead with only his third goal for the club.
Killie survived a number of chances for Celtic, while also coming close through Robbie Muirhead, before Stefan Scepovic added a second in the 71st minute.
It ended a two-game winless run for the Hoops who will now head for a winter break in Gran Canaria after postponing their January 10 match against St Johnstone.
"I`m very happy with the result and the performance. The attitude and commitment of every player on the pitch was excellent," Celtic manager Ronny Deila said.
"The first half especially was very good. We controlled the game, created chances and should have scored more goals."
Killie manager Allan Johnston felt it could have been much worse for his side.
"The first half was very disappointing and we never got anywhere near anyone and allowed Celtic to pass the ball around without any pressure.
"If you allow good players to play and don`t put any pressure on them then they are always going to cause you problems."
Commons, making his first start since November 22, was quick to show the kind of form that saw him earn last year`s Player of the Year award with the forward involved in everything.
After surviving a couple of hefty challenges early on, Commons came close to the opener in the 16th minute as his left-foot strike from outside the box clipped the crossbar with keeper Craig Samson stranded.
Commons, linked with a January move to join former Celtic boss Neil Lennon at Bolton, soon had a shot deflected just wide after good work from Scepovic before firing over the bar after weaving his way through the Killie defence.
A great passing move then saw Nir Bitton and Liam Henderson combine to set up Commons for another effort from the edge of the box that crashed off the bar.
Despite their dominance, Celtic were nearly left to rue their missed chances when Josh Magennis forced a great save out of Craig Gordon with a powerful header from Alexei Eremenko`s free-kick.
The Hoops finally made the breakthrough in the 36th minute with a superb strike from Izaguirre. The Honduran international got on the end of a clipped pass from Stefan Johansen to send a wonderful dipping volley past the helpless Samson.
Commons was to be denied yet again just before the break when a Scepovic backheel sent him clear in the box but Samson made a super save.
The former Scotland international was foiled once again when Mark Connolly produced an excellent defensive header to flick his powerful drive, which looked destined to burst the net, over the bar.
Celtic keeper Gordon had been a virtual spectator for most of the match but had to be at full stretch to tip a wicked strike from Muirhead over the bar after he tried his luck from the edge of the box.
Celtic finally got the second goal their play deserved in the 71st minute. Efe Ambrose sent a downward header towards goal from Johansen`s corner and Scepovic stuck out a foot on the line to divert it into the roof of the net.