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  • Dominant Celts dispatch Kilmarnock at Rugby Park

    Dominant Celts dispatch Kilmarnock at Rugby Park

    By: Tony Connelly on 19 Aug, 2017 15:07

  • Scottish Premiership
    Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
    Saturday, August 19, 2017


    (Forrest 39, McGregor 87)

    GOALS from James Forrest and Callum McGregor ensured Celtic extended their undefeated domestic run to 52 games away to Kilmarnock after two moments of magic from Tom Rogic created golden opportunities for the pair to score.

    Forrest, who was again tasked with leading the Hoops attack, converted from close range in the 39th minute after Rogic’s quick footwork inside the box saw him weave through the Kilmarnock defence and cut the ball back for him to score.

    Celtic had to overcome a stubborn Kilmarnock defence at Rugby Park, but the Hoops dominated possession and Rogic’s creative flair came to light again when he set McGregor up in the 83rd minute for the second of the afternoon and to seal another three points for the Scottish treble-winners.

    Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the side that dominated Astana 5-0 in the UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg in midweek with Forrest taking over the striking duties from Leigh Griffiths.

    The manager fielded the same back four that defeated Kilmarnock in the League Cup 5-0 last week, and they were rarely challenged by a Killie side that had little possession and failed to present an attacking challenge for Celtic.

    The Hoops produced some impressive play in attack, particularly from the lively Calvin Miller, who caused trouble for Stephen O’Donnell all afternoon. The 19-year-old made some darting runs down the left and delivered numerous dangerous crosses into the box.

    And he came close to scoring himself in the second half after a neat one-two with Forrest inside the box allowed him to get a shot away However, his effort was saved by Jamie MacDonald.

    Miller’s inclusion meant Kieran Tierney moved into centre-back to rekindle his defence partnership with KristofferAjer. The pair were solid in defence and looked vastly more experienced than their years would suggest.

    James Forrest had his first shot of the game five minutes in when he cut inside on the edge of the box and tried to curl his effort into the bottom left corner, however his attempt went wide off the far post.

    Rogic’s creativity began to seriously trouble Kilmarnock towards the later end of the first half. In the 29th minute the Australian fired a long ball to Miller out on the right who then laid off Armstrong, whose attempted cut-back from the by-line was blocked for a corner.

    In the 37th minute Miller delivered a great ball into the back post which Anthony Ralston controlled well before knocking it back across goal, but the opportunity was cleared away by the Kilmarnock defence.

    Then, six minutes before half-time, Rogic produced one of his trademark moments of magic to help open the scoring. The midfielder ran at the Kilmarnock defence inside the left-hand side of the box, beating Greg Taylor and taking the ball to the by-line before cutting it back across goal for Forrest to arrive and drive a low shot past a helpless MacDonald.

    Celtic came close to doubling the lead three minutes later when Benyu’s pass to Miller on the left saw the 19 year-old fire a dangerous pass across the six-yard box, but no-one was there to convert.

    The momentum from the first-half continued into the second when Ralston’s pass in the 47th minute found Forrest inside the box. After dancing past the Kilmarnock defence, Forrest found enough room to get a rocket of a shot off, but it went narrowly wide of the top right corner.

    Midway through the second-half Kieran Tierney found himself in a similar position to the one where he scored a spectacular goal against Kilmarnock in the League Cup. The 20-year-old pushed up from central defence and let off a powerful shot from distance which, thankfully for MacDonald, was directed straight at him.

    One minute later Miller linked up well with Forrest inside the box with a quick one-two, allowing him to get a shot in, but pressure from the Kilmarnock defence allowed MacDonald to get down to the shot and prevent another goal.

    But another goal seemed inevitable, given pressure which Celtic continued to pile on and Rogic helped put the game beyond any doubt with just three minutes left.

    He picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and began dribbling towards goal before slipping a perfectly weighted through ball to McGregor inside the box who then calmly placed it past the keeper and into the bottom left.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Ajer, Tierney (Bitton 69), Miller; Brown, Armstrong; McGregor, Rogic, Benyu (Lustig 78); Forrest (Griffiths 69).
    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Lustig, Henderson  

    KILMARNOCK (5-5-1) MacDonald; Taylor, Smith (Brophy 59), O’Donnell, McKenzie, Thomas (Burke 74), Jones, Boyd, Greer, Wilson; Frizzell.
    Subs: Bell, Waters, Power, Boyd, Burke, Spencer, Brophy

    Website Man of the Match: Calvin Miller


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