Celtic 2-1 Kilmarnock

Highlights - Celtic 2-1 Kilmarnock

Celtic moved to within a point of Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers with a home victory over Kilmarnock.

Georgios Samaras headed the home side ahead at the end of an otherwise frustrating first half for Celtic.

The striker netted again with a driven shot from the edge of the box seven minutes into the second half.

Substitute Danny Racchi pulled one back for the visitors with an excellent strike on 87 minutes but Killie were unable to find a leveller.

The hosts' win coupled with St Mirren's victory over Rangers in the earlier kick-off reduces the gap between the two Old Firm sides to the smallest of margins ahead of Wednesday's second Glasgow derby of the season at Celtic Park.

James Forrest's powerful drive flashed past goalkeeper Cammy Bell's post as Celtic looked to take an early lead.

At the other end, good work by Paul Heffernan set up a chance for Dean Shiels but he also shot wide.

Forrest continued to trouble the Killie defence and his shot was spilled by Bell and then pounced upon by Hooper only for the Celtic striker to flick the ball wide.

Mohamadou Sissoko's defensive header was inches away from being an own goal as the ball drifted just wide of Bell's goal, Celtic unable to make anything of the resulting corner.

Scott Brown's shot failed to seriously test Bell as the home fans began to get frustrated at the lack of goals.

But Celtic managed to break the deadlock in first-half injury time and Killie were culpable for their own downfall.

James Forrest and Garry Hay
Forrest (left) was lively in the first half but was taken off early in the second

The visitors tried to pass their way out of defence and conceded possession deep inside their own half.

Cha Du-Ri sent a high ball into the box from the right and Samaras's downward header found the net.

And, moments after Celtic fans had cheered news of Rangers' loss in Paisley, Samaras claimed his second of the day.

Hooper was the architect with a pass through to the Greek and he evaded Sissoko before slamming a shot into the bottom corner.

By this point, Forrest had been withdrawn and replaced by Kelvin Wilson, back after a lengthy injury absence.

Another effort from Hooper went wide after he had skipped away from Manuel Pascali.

Mohamed Bangura took the place of Samaras before Ki Sung-Yueng failed to make a clean connection with two good chances.

Charlie Mulgrew's free-kick was deflected wide of the Killie goal as the match began to fizzle out.

But there was some late excitement for the visiting fans as Shiels' replacement Racchi fired home a blistering shot from 28 yards.

Heffernan then came into collision with Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster and, as the ball ran loose, James Dayton was unable to take advantage.

And, despite a few more nervous moments for the hosts, they saw out the win.

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