Celtic win at Kilmarnock to go 13 points clear

Stuart Armstrong celebrates scoring for Celtic

Stuart Armstrong’s first-half goal was enough to guide Celtic past Kilmarnock, and stretch their lead to 13 points at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Armstrong powered onto Moussa Dembele’s through-ball and slotted past Jamie MacDonald a minute before the interval.

Mikael Lustig’s drive struck the outside of Jamie MacDonald’s post after the break, with Lee Clark’s industrious hosts struggling to carve out clear-cut opportunities.

Killie remain seventh.

All change

Celtic’s green and white hoops made way for third strip pink on a freezing cold night in Ayrshire but there were plenty of personnel changes too for both sides.

The last man to score against Celtic, Souleymane Coulibaly, started on the bench as Kilmarnock boss Clark decided to take a more “pragmatic” approach to his team selection. The 6-1 thumping they suffered the last the two sides met, perhaps helping to focus the mind. The Albanian striker Flo Bojaj was tasked with leading the line.

Celtic’s changes were at the back, where Dedryck Boyata made his first start under Brendan Rodgers. Callum McGregor provided the left-back cover out of possession as Kieran Tierney continues his fight for fitness.

Before kick-off, Clark said his side might be worth a flutter, with some bookmakers offering odds of up to 18-1 for a home win.

First-half fight

The visitors started by knocking the ball around with the confidence of side 10 points clear at the top of the table, but Kilmarnock started to find their feet and looked increasingly dangerous down the left hand side, where Greg Taylor was enjoying plenty of possession.

As ever, though, when Celtic poured forward they looked dangerous. Erik Sviatchenko watched his diving header drift just over the bar and MacDonald, in the Kilmarnock goal, provided a spectacular save when James Forrest’s curling effort looked destined for the top corner.

As chances came and went the home side grew in confidence but as they headed towards the break with their tails firmly in the air Armstrong got the break of the ball from Dembele’s stab through, and provided the sucker-punch with a close-range shot that flew past McDonald.

Second half tight

When McGregor missed an early chance in the second half it looked as if Celtic might well find another gear and put the game to bed but Kilmarnock were having none of it.

The home side gave everything and pushed a sloppy Celtic all the way. Boyata was forced to clear off the line and Frizzell also came close.

As the clock ticked, Celtic pushed. Lustig hit the post but the momentum was with Kilmarnock. The sensed an equaliser but it didn’t come. Celtic march on with yet another clean sheet.

Line-ups

Kilmarnock

  • 1MacDonald
  • 27Hendrie
  • 5Boyle
  • 16Boyd
  • 24Taylor
  • 8DickerBooked at 63mins