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  • Celtic fall to defeat at Rugby Park as Kilmarnock snatch winner

    Celtic fall to defeat at Rugby Park as Kilmarnock snatch winner

    By: Tony Connelly on 23 Sep, 2018 14:38

  • Scottish Premiership
    Sunday, September 23, 2018
    Rugby Park, Kilmarnock

    (Griffiths 33)

    (Burke 64, Findlay 90)

    CELTIC suffered a second consecutive defeat at Rugby Park after Kilmarnock ran out 2-1 winners. The Scottish champions enjoyed the better of the chances in what was a physical game but Steve Clarke’s side ran away with all three-points after grabbing a last gasp goal.

    Leigh Griffiths gave Celtic the lead in the first half with his second goal in two games. Chris Burke equalised in the second half with a 25-yard strike before Stuart Findlay headed in a stoppage time winner.

    Brendan Rodgers made five initial changes to the starting XI that beat Rosenborg 1-0 at Celtic Park on Thursday night in order to maintain as fresh a squad as possible during a busy run of fixtures.

    Youssouf Mulumbu made his Hoops bow against his former club as he replaced Olivier Ntcham who was serving a one match suspension following his sending off against St Mirren last week.

    Ryan Christie and Mikey Johnston made their first league starts of the season as Tom Rogic and James Forrest moved to the bench. Callum McGregor made way for Scott Sinclair and goal hero from Thursday night, Leigh Griffiths, started ahead of Odsonne Edouard.

    There was a late change to the starting XI after Filip Benkovic was ruled out of the game in the pre-match warm-up and was replaced by Jack Hendry.

    Both sides started the game with a clear attacking intent but it was the home side that created the better of the chances in the early stages. Jordan Jones was a key figure in the Killie attack as he showed a willingness to cut in from the left and run at the Celtic defence.

    His pace almost led to a one-on-one situation with Craig Gordon after the Killie winger darted through the Hoops backline with the ball before being stopped in his tracks by Dedryck Boyata and winning a free-kick.

    Boyata has been instrumental in helping improve Celtic’s defensive record in recent weeks and his contribution was again clear when he prevented Steve Clarke’s side from finding the back of the net midway through the half. A Killie corner fell to Greg Stewart on the penalty spot and just as the forward was winding up to pull the trigger the Belgian defender swiftly dispossessed him.  

    At the other end of the pitch Boyata came close to putting his side ahead on multiple occasions after continually getting the better of Killie captain Kirk Broadfoot. He scooped one shot from close range over the crossbar and had a penalty claim waved away after Broadfoot appeared to hold him back in the box.

    Celtic’s superiority became more apparent as the first half unfolded but the home side still continued to attack down either flank and Jones nearly snatched a goal after getting on the end of a Chris Burke cross.

    The midfield was dominated by Scott Brown and Youssouf Mulumbu who look comfortable as he largely dictated the play in the middle of the park against his former team-mates.

    Celtic’s pressure in the final third eventually paid off when they capitalised on a defensive blunder to take the lead just after the half hour mark. Broadfoot spliced his attempt to clear Kieran Tierney’s cross into the box and Greg Taylor’s own effort fired the ball off his own post allowing Griffiths to nod home with a diving header from close range.

    Boyata almost doubled the lead with his closest chance of the game when MacDonald tipped the ball over the crossbar to deny him from a header.

    The second half was a far more aggressive affair than the first as the home side tried to wrestle away Celtic’s control of the game. Mulumbu continued to come out on top in the physical battles and was pivotal in maintaining possession for his side.

    But Kilmarnock managed to grab a goal from nothing and draw level. Chris Burke picked up the ball 25-yards and quickly fired off a powerful low right-footed strike which came off the inside of the post and in.

    Celtic responded with a flurry of chances as they worked to try and restore their lead. Lewis Morgan came on as a substitute to mark his debut in the Scottish Premiership with Celtic and the young winger wasted no time in showing his talents. He set off on a weaving run at the Killie defence before trying to a curl his shot into the bottom corner but MacDonald made an excellent one-handed save.

    Morgan was lively out on the right and was effective in creating chances for Celtic. He again cut in from the wing and rolled a pass into the path of Johnston but the 19-year-old dragged his shot wide.

    As the final whistle drew closer Steve Clarke’s side sat in and tried to limit any space for their opponents but Celtic continued to knock on the door. Griffiths was poised to pull the trigger when the ball fell to him around 10-yards from goal but the bouncing ball was stabbed away inside the packed Killie box.

    Kilmarnock then grabbed the winner right at the death when Stuart Findlay headed in from a corner to hand his side a second goal.

    CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Hendry, Tierney; Brown, Christie, Mulumbu (McGregor 70), Johnston (Edouard 79), Sinclair (Morgan 65); Griffiths
    Not Used: Bain, Benkovic, Rogic, Forrest

    KILMARNOCK (4-4-2) MacDonald; O’Donnell, Broadfoot, Findlay, Taylor; Burke, Tshibola, Power, Jones (Ndjoli 84); Stewart (Dicker 79), Brophy (McKenzie 89)
    Not Used: Bachmann, Byrne, Boyd, Wilson


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