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  • Rogic the hero in dramatic Rugby Park triumph

    Rogic the hero in dramatic Rugby Park triumph

    By: Martin Dalziel on 19 Mar, 2016 14:27

  • SPFL Premiership
    Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
    Saturday, March 19, 2016

    KILMARNOCK...0

    CELTIC...1
    (Rogic 90)

    TOM Rogic’s sensational last-gasp wonder strike gave Celtic a vital one-nil win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park today to send the champions four points clear at the top of the league.

    With just seconds left on the clock and a 0-0 draw looking the most likely outcome, the second-half sub took aim from 25 yards and lashed an unstoppable angled drive into the net past the helpless Jamie MacDonald to spark scenes of wild celebration in the stand behind the goal, packed with Hoops fans, and a post-match Ronny roar from the manager of the champions.

    It was an incredible finish to secure a massive three points in the title race and gave the vocal and strong travelling support a moment to cherish as they headed back up the M77.

    Celtic made just one change for the game following last week’s 2-1 win over Partick Thistle, with Colin Kazim-Richards brought in to replace Gary Mackay-Steven on the left of attack as Ronny Deila stuck with the 4-3-3 formation utilised by the champions in recent weeks.

    The powerful striker used his strength to work his way into the match early on as the game spilled from end to end with both keepers called into action inside the opening five minutes to make good stops.

    Celtic were on top in terms of possession and had the Killie defence on the back foot with Kris Commons and Leigh Griffiths looking lively but the home team were also dangerous on the break as the game fell into a familiar pattern.

    Commons’ curling shot from outside the box marked the best chance for the Bhoys in the opening half hour but Jamie McDonald had his angles right to make the save. Kallum Higginbotham was meanwhile Kilie’s most potent threat but the Bhoys defence did well to keep him at bay for the most part after his early involvement had won a string of corners for the home team.

    The game fell into a lull midway through the half with Celtic still in charge of traffic but struggling to find gaps to exploit in the Kilmarnock defence. The Hoops had Lee Clark’s side packed in to their own half but were almost caught out by the home side when they were found guilty of overplaying in Killie territory.

    With the Bhoys in possession looking for an opening, Scott Brown slipped, allowing Higginbotham to dart free with the ball and play in Kris Boyd but Craig Gordon came confidently off his line to slide in and clear the danger.

    The Celts took the warning on board and pushed on with more intent but their momentum was disrupted when they were forced into a change before half-time as Kieran Tierney exited the action to be replaced by Dedryck Boyata after the Hoops youngster failed to recover from a knock he suffered in a strong challenge on 25 minutes.

    Ronny Deila’s side persevered until the break but could find the opener and the teams went in level.

    A second Celtic change followed the interval as Patrick Roberts replaced Kris Commons and the Celts went for a flat 4-4-2.

    The change in shape gave the Bhoys a more direct approach and they peppered MacDonald’s goal with shots inside the opening five minutes of the restart but the home team stood strong.

    Celtic had all of the possession but were forced to play in front of Killie as they closed ranks to stop the Celts penetrating their backline. Mikael Lustig and Charlie Mulgrew continued to provide crosses from the flanks, with Roberts also dangerous on the periphery of the box but the Hoops were lacking a killer touch.

    Not even Sviatchenko’s bulleted header on 65 minutes could find a way into the net when Julien Faubert blocked the shot on the post but the Hoops remained resolute to find the opening goal.

    Killie were growing in confidence, however, content to sit back with the fresh legs of second-half substitute Tope Obadeyi remaining a potent threat to the Celts as the clock ticked down.

    And just as the game looked set to be end in a stalemate the Bhoys made then final throw of the dice by replacing Nir Bitton with Tom Rogic with 10 minutes left, and it was the Australian attacker who had the vital say in the game, smashing a sensational, thunderous shot past MacDonald with just seconds left to send the travelling support into euphoria.

    The result gave the champions the four point cushion they so desperately wanted over second-placed Aberdeen ahead of kick-off and sent the Celtic support back up the M77 on top of the world.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew, Tierney (Boyata 41); McGregor, Brown, Bitton (Rogic 78); Commons (Roberts 46), Griffiths, Kazim-Richards

    Not used: Fasan, Johansen, Armstrong, Forrest,

    KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) MacDonald; O’Hara, Ashcroft, Balatoni, Hodson; Faubert, Dicker; McKenzie (Splaine 54), Higginbotham, Kiltie; Boyd (Obadeyi 70)

    Not used: Brennan, Westlake, Slater, McHattie, Frizzell

    Website man of the match: Callum McGregor

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