Scottish Premiership
Kilmarnock0Celtic2

Kilmarnock 0-2 Celtic

Celtic clocked up another dominant performance and victory over Kilmarnock thanks to strikes by James Forrest and Callum McGregor.

The goals came late in both halves, and were created by the vision and touch of Tom Rogic.

Celtic were not at full strength, making six changes to the starting line-up, but still commanded the game.

Kilmarnock were restricted to half chances and unable to disrupt the visitors' accomplished passing.

The victory - Celtic are now 52 domestic games unbeaten - moved the defending champions top of the Scottish Premiership, with the rest of the teams still to play later in the afternoon.

Kilmarnock have now lost all three of their opening league games for the first time since 1995.

Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor
Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor wrapped up the victory with a second goal with two minutes remaining

Brendan Rodgers' team selection was an expression of Celtic's growing dominance. Only five players remained from the side that began Wednesday's Champions League play-off tie against Astana, and five of the starters at Rugby Park were graduates from the club's youth academy.

The back line, in particular, was testament to Celtic's potential strength in depth, with Kieran Tierney the eldest at 20, alongside Anthony Ralston, 18, Kristoffer Ajer, 19, and Calvin Miller, 19. Elsewhere, Kundai Benyu and McGregor were provided with opportunities to impress and Forrest returned to his makeshift centre-forward role.

Kilmarnock ought to have responded with a sense of purpose against a visiting side that was not at full strength, but the recent 5-0 Scottish League Cup defeat to another Celtic side that contained several fringe players, would also have played on their minds.

The home side conceded territory and possession to Celtic, as they sat off the visitors, stayed behind the ball and attempted to close off their passing angles. Celtic are accustomed to facing that level of containment, though, and they merely passed from side to side with an air of calm governance.

Kilmarnock manager Lee McCulloch
Kilmarnock manager Lee McCulloch has watched his side lose their opening three games for the first time in 22 years

Rodgers talks often about the strategy of his side, and elements of this display were recognisable, such as Miller playing high and wide on the left, Benyu tucking in as another central attacker, and Ralston dropping back when attacks were on the left to leave a solid back three.

Patience rather than urgency shaped Celtic's approach. Scott Brown was central, collecting the ball from his centre-backs, moving it from flank to flank, and also providing a further level of defensive security on the rare occasions when Kilmarnock carried the ball forward.

There were moments for Celtic to endure, as Ralston headed a Stephen O'Donnell cross wide of his own post, but otherwise the visitors could play as if convinced of their eventual breakthrough.

It came when Rogic embarked on one of his ghosting runs into the Kilmarnock penalty area, ambling past tackles before slipping the ball back for Forrest to side-foot into the net.

Celtic defender Kieran Tierney
Kieran Tierney was the elder statesman in Celtic's defence, at just 20

Brown, with a header wide, and Miller, with a ball that flashed across the face of the goal, also troubled Kilmarnock in the opening half. The left-back might also have added to the advantage after the break after linking slickly with Forrest, but stabbed the ball straight at Kilmarnock goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.

The Rugby Park manager Lee McCulloch tried to alter the game's dynamic by withdrawing a midfielder in Steven Smith and replacing him with the striker Eamonn Brophy, but Celtic took further control.

Rogic flitted in and out of the game, but his touches always carried the potential to be flourishes of creativity. With a deft shuffle and release of the ball, he sent McGregor into the penalty area late on, and the midfielder calmly steered a shot past the exposed MacDonald.

The goal ended the tie as a contest, but in truth Celtic had never looked in anything other than total control.

Line-ups

Kilmarnock

  • 1MacDonald
  • 2O'DonnellBooked at 59mins
  • 4Greer
  • 20Wilson
  • 12Taylor
  • 15ThomasSubstituted forBurkeat 75'minutes
  • 7McKenzieBooked at 85mins
  • 21Frizzell
  • 3SmithSubstituted forBrophyat 60'minutes
  • 11Jones
  • 9Boyd

Substitutes

  • 6Power
  • 16Boyd
  • 18Waters
  • 25Brophy
  • 26Bell
  • 28Spencer
  • 29Burke

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 56Ralston
  • 35Ajer
  • 63TierneySubstituted forBittonat 70'minutes
  • 59Miller
  • 8Brown
  • 14Armstrong
  • 42McGregor
  • 18Rogic
  • 26BenyuSubstituted forLustigat 78'minutes
  • 49ForrestSubstituted forGriffithsat 70'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Bitton
  • 9Griffiths
  • 11Sinclair
  • 21Ntcham
  • 23Lustig
  • 24de Vries
  • 53Henderson
Referee:
Nick Walsh
Attendance:
10,069

Match Stats

Home TeamKilmarnockAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home37%
Away63%
Shots
Home3
Away15
Shots on Target
Home0
Away6
Corners
Home5
Away5
Fouls
Home15
Away6

Live Text

Match ends, Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 2.

Foul by Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock).

Callum McGregor (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Anthony Ralston.

Goal!

Goal! Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 2. Callum McGregor (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Tomas Rogic.

Foul by Anthony Ralston (Celtic).

Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt blocked. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Booking

Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock).

Foul by Leigh Griffiths (Celtic).

Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

Foul by Tomas Rogic (Celtic).

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

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Mikael Lustig replaces Kundai Benyu.

Kundai Benyu (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Gordon Greer (Kilmarnock).

Attempt missed. Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right following a corner.

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Calvin Miller.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Chris Burke replaces Dom Thomas.

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

Foul by Anthony Ralston (Celtic).

Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock).

Attempt blocked. Nir Bitton (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Nir Bitton replaces Kieran Tierney.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Leigh Griffiths replaces James Forrest.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Stephen O'Donnell.

Attempt saved. Calvin Miller (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Attempt saved. Kieran Tierney (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. Calvin Miller (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box is too high.

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Kieran Tierney.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Eamonn Brophy replaces Steven Smith.

Booking

Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock).

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Stephen O'Donnell.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic33007169
2St Johnstone33007259
3Aberdeen33006249
4Hamilton32016336
5Hibernian32017616
6Rangers31114404
7Hearts311124-24
8Motherwell310246-23
9Ross County310235-23
10Kilmarnock300315-40
11Partick Thistle300315-40
12Dundee300327-50
View full Scottish Premiership table

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