Scottish Premiership
Celtic3Kilmarnock1

Celtic 3-1 Kilmarnock

Stuart Armstrong celebrates his goal
Celtic's Stuart Armstrong scored his 14th goal of the season against Killie

Champions Celtic survived a brief second-half scare before cruising to a comfortable victory over Kilmarnock.

Stuart Armstrong gave the hosts the lead with a 25-yard drive that flew in through a crowd of players.

Jordan Jones drew Killie level against the run of play after the break but Scott Sinclair soon made it 2-1.

James Forrest nodded home the third to confirm Celtic's win and put an end to Killie's hopes of securing a top-six finish this season.

With Partick Thistle beating Motherwell 1-0 at Firhill, they cannot be caught in the race for a top-six berth.

Killie pack defence

Lee McCulloch's side gave the champions a guard of honour as they took to the field and the interim boss showed Celtic further respect by deploying a five-man defence.

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Interviews: Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and Killie interim boss Lee McCulloch

Gary Dicker, Iain Wilson and Scott Boyd filled the central roles with Luke Hendrie and Greg Taylor occupying the full-back berths. The formation restricted Celtic early on but the problem for Killie was that every one of their clearances dropped to players in green and white.

Chances eventually came for the hosts, with Sinclair firing wide from Forrest's cross before Callum McGregor's deflected effort was tipped over by keeper Freddie Woodman.

Stu dunnit

Stuart Armstrong score for Celtic
Midfielder Stuart Armstrong fires Celtic ahead with a fine strike from 25 yards

The breakthrough arrived midway through the first half and it was the player of the month for March who did the damage. Armstrong decided to try his luck from distance and his shot appeared to take a slight touch as it flew past Woodman for the midfielder's 14th goal of the season.

Last ditch tackles from Wilson and Boyd denied McGregor and Armstrong before Kieran Tierney sent a left foot volley wide of the target as the home side were unable to increase their lead before the interval.

At times it was like a training game for Celtic as they maximised possession and Killie sat back and hoped to hit them on the break.

The tactic paid off, though, as the Rugby Park men squared it against the run of play. Conor Sammon played in Jones and his effort from 16 yards took a deflection to beat Craig Gordon.

Rodgers' men respond

That goal spurred Celtic into action and from a free kick delivered by Armstrong, Dedryck Boyata's headed knockdown was turned across the face of goal by McGregor for Sinclair to net with a close range tap in.

Celtic go 3-1 up
James Forrest provides a simple finish to secure the win for Celtic

Moussa Dembele made an immediate impact as a substitute, contributing to Celtic's third goal. His deflected shot came back off the Killie keeper's left hand post and winger Forrest headed the rebound into the net from two yards out.

The result extends Celtic's unbeaten domestic run to 39 games as Killie experienced their first defeat away from home in their last seven games.

Post-match reaction

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: "I thought it was an outstanding team performance. We played our shape very very well, the quality of the movement, the speed. It was difficult in the beginning because Lee (McCulloch) obviously set his team out very tight in their organisation in a real low position and that's always difficult to break down.

"But we showed quality and great patience and I must say big applause as well to the crowd because they're now seeing what we're trying to do - they're not getting frustrated, they're understanding at times they're going to have to be patient.

Brendan Rodgers celebrates the win
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to the club's fans

"Our only mistake was for the goal which was the counter attack but every other element we showed a lovely charisma in the game today. We got three goals and with a bit more luck we could have had another one or two."

Interim Kilmarnock boss Lee McCulloch: "I thought first half we were too deep, stood off the game too much and allowed Celtic a little bit too much respect. Second half we changed the system and decided to go a little bit higher up the pitch.

"I'm delighted with the way the boys played and the character and concentration they showed for most of the game.

"We get back in the game and gather a little bit of momentum then we just switch off for a set play as we have done a couple of times this season - that's the most disappointing part of the day.

"Did we deserve to win then game - absolutely not. But I'm proud of the way the boys showed character and passed the ball, especially in the second half at times and maybe on another day we could have stolen a point."

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 23Lustig
  • 5Simunovic
  • 20BoyataBooked at 85mins
  • 63Tierney
  • 8BrownBooked at 57mins
  • 42McGregorSubstituted forRogicat 72'minutes
  • 49Forrest
  • 14ArmstrongSubstituted forKouassiat 84'minutes
  • 11Sinclair
  • 27RobertsSubstituted forDembeleat 72'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Izaguirre
  • 6Bitton
  • 10Dembele
  • 18Rogic
  • 28Sviatchenko
  • 65Hazard
  • 88Kouassi

Kilmarnock

  • 17Woodman
  • 27Hendrie
  • 36WilsonBooked at 40mins
  • 8Dicker
  • 16Boyd
  • 24TaylorBooked at 60mins
  • 25RobertsSubstituted forFrizzellat 80'minutes
  • 6Smith
  • 18LongstaffSubstituted forHawkshawat 58'minutes
  • 11JonesSubstituted forGrahamat 81'minutes
  • 19Sammon

Substitutes

  • 1MacDonald
  • 5Osborne
  • 9Boyd
  • 21Frizzell
  • 33Hawkshaw
  • 40Graham
  • 44Cameron
Referee:
Craig Thomson
Attendance:
57,679

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamKilmarnock
Possession
Home73%
Away27%
Shots
Home14
Away3
Shots on Target
Home6
Away1
Corners
Home5
Away3
Fouls
Home9
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Celtic 3, Kilmarnock 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Celtic 3, Kilmarnock 1.

Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

Adam Frizzell (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Iain Wilson.

Scott Sinclair (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Dean Hawkshaw (Kilmarnock).

Attempt missed. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) header from very close range misses to the right.

Booking

Dedryck Boyata (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Kieran Tierney.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Eboue Kouassi replaces Stuart Armstrong.

Attempt saved. Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Gary Dicker.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. William Graham replaces Jordan Jones.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Adam Frizzell replaces Callum Roberts.

Foul by Mikael Lustig (Celtic).

Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Gary Dicker.

Goal!

Goal! Celtic 3, Kilmarnock 1. James Forrest (Celtic) header from very close range to the centre of the goal.

Jozo Simunovic (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Conor Sammon (Kilmarnock).

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Moussa Dembele replaces Patrick Roberts.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Tomas Rogic replaces Callum McGregor.

Goal!

Goal! Celtic 2, Kilmarnock 1. Scott Sinclair (Celtic) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Patrick Roberts following a set piece situation.

Patrick Roberts (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock).

Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Callum Roberts (Kilmarnock).

Goal!

Goal! Celtic 1, Kilmarnock 1. Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Conor Sammon.

Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Luke Hendrie (Kilmarnock).

Booking

Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock).

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Dean Hawkshaw replaces Sean Longstaff.

Booking

Scott Brown (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Callum McGregor (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Iain Wilson (Kilmarnock).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic32293085206590
2Aberdeen31204761243764
3Rangers31141074334952
4St Johnstone32147114338549
5Hearts32128125143844
6Partick Thistle321011113536-141
7Kilmarnock32713123049-1934
8Ross County32711143552-1732
9Dundee3286183351-1830
10Hamilton32514132848-2029
11Motherwell3278173459-2529
12Inverness CT32413153458-2425
View full Scottish Premiership table

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