Celtic took a step closer to the Scottish Premiership title as a Kris Commons hat-trick swept aside Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The champions initially struggled to get into any sort of rhythm in a windy opening 45 minutes in Ayrshire.

However, after the break talisman Commons netted twice in as many minutes to get the visitors off and running.

The midfielder then ensured he took home the match ball when he confidently struck a long drive into the net.

The champions move 24 points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, and just seven more points will clinch a third consecutive championship.

Kilmarnock missed the chance to move closer to nearest rivals Hibernian, and remain within four points off the relegation play-off position having played two more games than the three teams chasing them.

Celtic had the ball in the net after just 48 seconds when Anthony Stokes rolled Commons' knockdown under the legs of Craig Samson, but the Irishman was ruled offside.

It was a bright opening from the visitors and they followed that up with another sweeping move involving Stefan Johansen, Stokes and Leigh Griffiths, but the goalkeeper had little trouble getting his body behind the striker's shot.

A mix-up at the back almost allowed Kilmarnock the chance to open the scoring. Charlie Mulgrew and Adam Matthews both miskicked, but the loose ball evaded Kris Boyd just yards from goal.

Kris Commons celebrates one of his three goals against Kilmarnock

Commons took his tally for the season to 26 goals

Kilmarnock thought they had a strong claim for a penalty when Boyd fell in the box after a joust with Efe Ambrose, but referee Willie Collum was unimpressed.

That was the best of the action from a scrappy first half, but Celtic came out with renewed vigour after the restart.

Samson had to tip over Johansen's powerful shot, then a clever one-two between Stokes and Scott Brown opened up the Kilmarnock rearguard but there were no takers for the Celtic captain's ball across goal.

The home side looked to have weathered the storm, but two goals quick-fire goals from Celtic blew their game plan apart.

Mulgrew swept forward on the counter-attack and fed Commons, who played a neat one-two with Griffiths before poking the ball into the corner.

Commons scored again two minutes later, first finding Adam Matthews on the right wing then racing into the middle to meet his cross into the six-yard box.

Stokes curled a shot beyond the far post as Celtic threatened to run away with the game, but the introduction of Alexei Eremenko and Chris Johnston helped give the hosts a kick-start, and it was the teenager who latched on to Boyd's pass and drilled a shot just wide.

It could have been an earlier hat-trick for Commons when he nudged Emilio Izaguirre's cross into the net, but the assistant referee's flag cut short the celebrations.

However, it only delayed the inevitable, and Commons grabbed his third when he was given ample space in the middle of the park. After collecting Beram Kayal's pass, he took his tally to 26 goals for the season with a long drive into the far corner.

Stokes looked to have earned a late penalty when Jeroen Tesselaar bundled him over in the box, but his pleas were ignored.

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (6)

Kilmarnock

  • 01 Samson
  • 16 Clohessy
  • 02 Tesselaar
  • 28 Slater
  • 30 Ashcroft
  • 29 Pascali Booked
  • 18 McKenzie (Muirhead - 87' )
  • 26 O'Hara
  • 09 Boyd
  • 25 Gardyne (Eremenko - 62' )
  • 14 Moberg-Karlsson (Johnston - 66' )

Substitutes

  • 07 Nicholson
  • 10 Johnston
  • 11 Gros
  • 12 Reguero Chapinal
  • 20 Eremenko
  • 22 Maksimenko
  • 33 Muirhead

Celtic

  • 01 Forster
  • 02 Matthews
  • 03 Izaguirre
  • 25 Johansen (Boerrigter - 87' )
  • 04 Ambrose Emuobo
  • 21 Mulgrew
  • 08 Brown
  • 15 Commons
  • 10 Stokes
  • 28 Griffiths (Pukki - 75' )
  • 53 Henderson (Kayal - 82' )

Substitutes

  • 09 Samaras
  • 11 Boerrigter
  • 17 Balde
  • 20 Pukki
  • 24 Zaluska
  • 33 Kayal
  • 34 O'Connell
Ref: William Collum
Att: 7,495

Match Stats

Shots

2 14

On target

0 9

Corners

1 6

Fouls

8 6

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 3.

90:00 +2:04 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 3.

87:57

Attempt missed. Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

86:59 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Derk Boerrigter replaces Stefan Johansen.

86:13 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. Robbie Muirhead replaces Rory McKenzie.

85:38 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 3. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner.

81:16 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Beram Kayal replaces Liam Henderson.

79:38

Foul by Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock).

79:38

Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

79:09

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Charlie Mulgrew.

78:36

Attempt missed. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is just a bit too high.

74:19 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Celtic. Teemu Pukki replaces Leigh Griffiths.

72:01

Attempt saved. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

71:13

Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

69:46

Attempt missed. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

68:54

Attempt missed. Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the left.

68:04

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Manuel Pascali.

65:15 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. Chris Johnston replaces David Moberg-Karlsson.

64:46

Attempt missed. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

64:00

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Craig Slater.

62:54

Foul by Liam Henderson (Celtic).

62:54

Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

62:24

Foul by Liam Henderson (Celtic).

62:24

Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

61:36 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. Alexei Eremenko replaces Michael Gardyne.

58:21 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 2. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Adam Matthews.

56:48 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 1. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Leigh Griffiths.

55:09

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Jeroen Tesselaar.

52:36

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Manuel Pascali.

49:08

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Sean Clohessy.

47:29

Adam Matthews (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

47:29

Foul by Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock).

46:31

Attempt missed. Efe Ambrose (Celtic) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.

46:14

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Craig Samson.

46:04

Attempt saved. Stefan Johansen (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

45:00

Second Half begins Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 0.

45:00 +0:02 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, Celtic 0.

42:06

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

42:06

Foul by Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock).

41:19

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).

41:19

Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

37:08

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Celtic).

37:08

Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

35:29

Attempt saved. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

34:53

Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

34:53

Foul by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

26:54

Liam Henderson (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

26:54

Foul by Mark O'Hara (Kilmarnock).

22:42

Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

22:42

Foul by Sean Clohessy (Kilmarnock).

20:50 Booking

Booking Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.

20:40

Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

20:40

Foul by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock).

18:23

Foul by Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic).

18:23

Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

14:25

Foul by Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic).

14:25

Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

12:49

Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

12:26

Liam Henderson (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

12:26

Foul by Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock).

11:40

Attempt saved. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

6:42

Attempt missed. Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

3:02

Attempt blocked. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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