Celtic 5-1 Kilmarnock: Brendan Rodgers hails 'outstanding team performance'

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Watch: Celtic's brutal response to Kilmarnock title talk

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers hailed "an outstanding team performance" as the champions routed Kilmarnock to return to the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Steve Clarke's side, leaders at the start of play, were swept aside by four first-half goals before succumbing 5-1.

James Forrest scored twice to take his season's tally to 16 for club and country, while Ryan Christie netted his seventh goal in 10 club games.

"We knew we had to play at a high level to get a result," Rodgers said.

"The players deserve a huge amount of credit for the quality of the football, the speed to get through the gaps.

"Our quality in the wide areas and in the centre got us the goals. There were some fantastic goals today - collective team goals, but also some individual brilliance as well like Ryan's free-kick."

With winning a seventh straight domestic trophy against Aberdeen in Sunday's League Cup final, this victory over a side threatening to upset the established order sent an ominous message of intent in Celtic's quest for an eighth consecutive Premiership crown.

Rodgers said that his side want to "win every game and every competition" and that his side rouse themselves for these occasions.

"Today was going to be real competition for us," he said. "We then had to show our talent, trust our quality and go and show our character to produce a performance against the team that was at the top.

"We've been on a great run for two months. We should have won the game midweek [a 1-1 draw at Motherwell], but what a way to bounce back with a performance like that."

Celtic will now turn their attention to their final Europa League group game on Thursday, needing a draw against leaders RB Salzburg to secure second place.

"It'll be a tough game for us," Rodgers added. "We only need a point and it's difficult to play for a point but with the stadium packed and the noise and the lights, it should make for a great atmosphere."

'Celtic were on a different level' - analysis

Former Scotland midfielder Michael Stewart on Sportsound

Celtic blew Kilmarnock away with their pace, power and the real hunger to go after them in that first half in particular. They were so clinical in the final third.

The intensity that they played with wasn't there earlier in the season. The movement, the rotation, the speed of play is right back in this Celtic side.

We know what Kilmarnock are like. They are a very resolute difficult side to break down. But Celtic made it look easy at times and it gives you an indication of just how good a performance it was.

I don't think Kilmarnock were terrible. They still had a little bit of intent but Celtic were on a different level. They showed Kilmarnock if they want to challenge then they have to reach those levels.

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