Scottish Premiership
Kilmarnock1Celtic3

Kilmarnock 1-3 Celtic: Edouard and Griffiths score as visitors stay top

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Highlights - Kilmarnock 1-3 Celtic

Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths both scored as Celtic maintained a two-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with victory at Kilmarnock.

Edouard superbly slotted home his 14th league goal of the season before the break as strike partner Griffiths added his second in two games.

Despite Celtic's dominance, Kilmarnock threatened to come back after Nicke Kabamba's clever header.

But Christopher Jullien restored the two-goal lead just seven minutes later.

Celtic still lead rivals Rangers by two points, having played a game more than the Ibrox side as the Premiership resumed following a three-week winter break.

The only negative for Celtic was the loss of Jeremie Frimpong to injury in stoppage time as the right-back was carried off on a stretcher.

Edouard-Griffiths partnership menaces for Celtic

Neil Lennon's decision to emerge from the winter hibernation with a new system was perhaps induced by the slight downturn in control and intensity in Celtic's performances - if not results - throughout December, which ended with a painful defeat by rivals Rangers.

A 3-5-2 was a formation he used with great success at Hibernian, and when your options up front include the league's current top goalscorer and the top flight's most prolific forward of the last decade, then it's perhaps no surprise the Celtic manager sought to get both on the pitch at the same time.

Despite the assumption that modern strikers prefer to fly solo, Edouard and Griffiths both put in superb performances at Rugby Park that hinted this could be a long-term option and not just a means to compensate for the loss of the prolific Ryan Christie from midfield through suspension.

For the opening goal, Edouard had no right to control Frimpong's cross on the turn given the deflection that would have deceived most, but he stopped it dead. Then, in another cruel flash of his feet, he left Alan Power flat on his back before calmly finishing across goal.

It capped a good opening 24 minutes for Celtic in which Edouard shone - a rare poor finish aside - as he generally caused a nuisance whenever he touched the ball.

There were other opportunities, too, Callum McGregor firing just wide after Edouard had mesmerised four blue shirts to create space for him.

Not to be outdone, Griffiths doubled the lead after the break with a low finish after more good work from Frimpong allowed McGregor to poke the ball towards him in the box.

And the new strike partnership continued to shine, as first Griffiths deftly poked a ball through for Edouard, who was denied by Jan Koprivec, and then the Scotland striker's dummy for his partner allowed him to race clear to force another fine stop from the Kilmarnock goalkeeper.

But despite the pair's menace, Celtic's pile of missed chances - for seven minutes at least - threatened to topple them when Kabamba cleverly diverted Power's shot past Fraser Forster to narrow the lead to a single goal.

That was Kilmarnock's first league goal in six matches, and despite riding their luck they carried a threat in the second half that will give manager Alex Dyer hope, even if Jullien's towering header from Griffiths' pinpoint corner consigned them to a sixth straight league loss.

The injury to Frimpong, involved in the first two goals, clouded an otherwise bright evening in Ayrshire for Celtic, as any long-term absence would leave Moritz Bauer as the only fit first-team right-back given the continued absence of Hatem Abd Elhamed.

Griffiths too may have sullied an otherwise superb evening as he got involved with a Kilmarnock supporter when he was replaced by Mikey Johnston with 10 minutes left.

Killie stat

Man of the match - Callum McGregor

BBC Scotland's John Barnes at Rugby Park

McGregor was at the heart of many of Celtic's offensive moves, particularly in the first half. The Scotland midfielder was always keen to support and link with the two main strikers. On one occasion with neat close skills he shimmied his way through the Kilmarnock defence, but just couldn't find the finish to top off the move.

His performance won't have gone unnoticed by the Scotland manager Steve Clarke, who was watching from the main stand, and neither will that of Griffiths. The striker not only scored his second goal in two games but showed his quality from set-pieces with his corner kick delivery for Jullien's goal.

'We could have won by more' - reaction

Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer: "I thought we did well at times, but mistakes cost us the game. Overall, I'm quite pleased with the way we performed.

"Since we've come back after the break the boys have been good and it's showed so far in the way we've trained and played. Hopefully we can push on and pick up points against the teams around us."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: "It was a great performance at a difficult venue. I thought we could have won the game by a lot more.

"[Edouard and Griffiths] played well together, I thought their link up play at times was very good."

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Griffiths did nothing malicious - Lennon

Line-ups

Kilmarnock

  • 24Koprivec
  • 2O'Donnell
  • 4BruceSubstituted forDel Fabroat 76'minutes
  • 17Findlay
  • 14Hämäläinen
  • 6Power
  • 8DickerBooked at 60mins
  • 29Burke
  • 15El MakriniSubstituted forBrophyat 63'minutes
  • 11BunnSubstituted forKiltieat 78'minutes
  • 27Kabamba

Substitutes

  • 5Johnson
  • 9Brophy
  • 10Kiltie
  • 12Branescu
  • 20Wilson
  • 25St. Clair
  • 26Del Fabro

Celtic

  • 67Forster
  • 5Simunovic
  • 2Jullien
  • 35Ajer
  • 30FrimpongSubstituted forBauerat 88'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 21NtchamBooked at 57mins
  • 8Brown
  • 42McGregor
  • 15Hayes
  • 22EdouardSubstituted forBayoat 90+6'minutes
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forJohnstonat 80'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gordon
  • 3Taylor
  • 10Bayo
  • 11Klimala
  • 13Bauer
  • 14Arzani
  • 19Johnston
Referee:
Don Robertson
Attendance:
8,307

Match Stats

Home TeamKilmarnockAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home6
Away17
Shots on Target
Home3
Away6
Corners
Home4
Away8
Fouls
Home13
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Kilmarnock 1, Celtic 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 1, Celtic 3.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Vakoun Issouf Bayo replaces Odsonne Edouard.

Booking

Moritz Bauer (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Moritz Bauer replaces Jeremie Frimpong because of an injury.

Attempt saved. Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Fraser Forster.

Attempt missed. Michael Johnston (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Foul by Alan Power (Kilmarnock).

Jeremie Frimpong (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Michael Johnston replaces Leigh Griffiths.

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

Foul by Leigh Griffiths (Celtic).

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Greg Kiltie replaces Harry Bunn.

Foul by Dario Del Fabro (Kilmarnock).

Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Dario Del Fabro replaces Alex Bruce because of an injury.

Attempt saved. Nicke Kabamba (Kilmarnock) header from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Foul by Alan Power (Kilmarnock).

Callum McGregor (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal!

Goal! Kilmarnock 1, Celtic 3. Christopher Jullien (Celtic) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Leigh Griffiths with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Stephen O'Donnell.

Alan Power (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Callum McGregor (Celtic).

Attempt missed. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Goal!

Goal! Kilmarnock 1, Celtic 2. Nicke Kabamba (Kilmarnock) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Alan Power.

Attempt missed. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

Attempt blocked. Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Eamonn Brophy replaces Mohamed El Makrini.

Attempt missed. Christopher Jullien (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high following a corner.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Stuart Findlay.

Attempt blocked. Jozo Simunovic (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Jan Koprivec.

Attempt saved. Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Booking

Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock).

Callum McGregor (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Stuart Findlay.

Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Booking

Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic21181258144455
2Rangers20172154114353
3Motherwell2213183427740
4Aberdeen2210663027336
5Livingston227783129228
6Hibernian227783137-628
7Kilmarnock2265111827-923
8Ross County215792242-2022
9St Johnstone204881635-1920
10St Mirren2254131730-1319
11Hamilton2246122136-1518
12Hearts2228121835-1714
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