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  • Dominant Celts cruise past Kilmarnock

    Dominant Celts cruise past Kilmarnock

    By: Mark Henderson on 26 Oct, 2014 15:04

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    (Guidetti 35, Scepovic 63)


    GOALS in either half from John Guidetti and Stefan Scepovic on their first start together saw Celtic claim a convincing 2-0 victory over 10-man Kilmarnock in Paradise and close in on the Scottish Premiership summit.

    The Swedish striker lashed in a free-kick 10 minutes before the break after Manuel Pascali saw red for a professional foul on Scepovic.

    Kilmarnock goalkeeper Conor Brennan made a string of saves to keep the Bhoys at bay but Scepovic eventually found a way through again, applying the finish from Mubarak Wakaso’s cross.

    A second successive league win saw the Scottish champions leapfrog the Rugby Park side into fourth place in the table, and they now trail current pace-setters Hamilton and Inverness Caley Thistle by three points, having played a game fewer.  

    Adam Matthews returned to the starting XI for the first time in almost two months as Ronny Deila made three changes from the team that beat FC Astra in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night.

    The Welshman, who has endured a long stay on the treatment table, replaced Mikael Lustig at right-back. Wakaso and Guidetti were the other two players to be restored to the side, while Charlie Mulgrew and Anthony Stokes dropped out, with the former named among the substitutes.

    The Ayrshire outfit, on the back of three successive victories, made a confident start and Craig Gordon had to race from his line in the fifth minute to thwart the onrushing Tope Obadeyi.

    Josh Magennis fastened on to the rebound but Stefan Johansen reacted quickly to hold off the big striker and avert the danger.

    Celtic replied with a first-time half-volley from Scepovic that flew wide, before Scott Brown saw an effort charged down in the box after Callum McGregor had beaten the offside trap.

    However, the Hoops were struggling to discover their rhythm at this stage, giving possession away too easily which prevented them from building any momentum.

    The visitors looked to seize the initiative, winning a succession of corners, while Aleksei Eremenko dragged a shot wide from distance.

    But as the half wore on, the Hoops began to stamp their authority on the contest, helped by the movement of front pairing Guidetti and Scepovic.

    The Swede was extremely unfortunate to be penalised by referee Willie Collum as he advanced into the box after coming out on top in a physical battle with Pascali on the right.

    Scepovic found the side-netting from Johansen’s corner and Wakaso headed straight at goalkeeper Conor Brennan from McGregor’s inviting centre.

    As Celtic grew in ascendancy, Gordon was becoming a more peripheral figure at the other end, although he did have to be alert to Eremenko’s long-range effort.

    In the 34th minute, though, the game swung decisively in the home side’s direction. Scepovic outpaced Pascali, who hauled him back as he bore down on goal. A red card was the only conceivable outcome and the veteran defender was duly given his marching orders.

    To compound Killie’s misery, Guidetti expertly lashed home the free-kick from 20 yards, his swerving strike leaving Brennan with no chance.

    Sensing an opportunity to kill off the contest, the Hoops piled on the pressure before the break. McGregor was denied by a last-ditch challenge and Scepovic’s rebound was headed off the line by Mark Connolly.

    A ferocious drive from Guidetti looked netbound until a deflection sent it behind for a corner. McGregor and Wakaso were off target from distance.

    Alan Johnston’s side survived the onslaught, but they were soon under the cosh again after the interval as Scepovic’s angled shot forced Brennan into action.  

    Wakaso and Johansen had shots blocked, before Guidetti came close twice within a matter of seconds, blasting against the post and then seeing a fizzing shot brilliantly saved by Brennan.

    It was one-way traffic. Scepovic drilled a shot wide from Wakaso’s cutback, but he was rewarded for his persistence moments later as he doubled Celtic's advantage.

    Wakaso was the provider, sending in a dangerous delivery from the left, and the Serbian striker steered it home beyond Brennan.

    The shots continued to rain in on the Kilmarnock goal, with Brennan saving from Wakaso and Scepovic.

    With the points effectively banked, and a hectic fixture to contend with, the manager rang the changes, withdrawing Scepovic, Johansen and Wakaso. On came, Leigh Griffiths, Charlie Mulgrew and Aleksandar Tonev.

    Although coasting to victory, the Hoops searched for further reward. Matthews looked the most likely to inflict further punishment but Lee Ashcroft scrambled across to block his low effort.

    Celtic had to be satisfied with the two-goal margin, with attention now turning to Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final against Partick Thistle.

    CELTIC (4-4-2) Gordon; Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; McGregor, Brown, Johansen (Mulgrew 67), Wakaso (Tonev 78); Scepovic, (Griffiths 67), Guidetti.
    Not Used: Zaluska, Ambrose,, Lustig, Kayal

    KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) Brennan; Barbour, Connolly, Pascali Chantler; Hamill, Clingan; McKenzie, Eremenko (Ashcroft 34) Obadeyi; Magennis (Ngoo 70).
    Not Used: Mackay, Johnston, Slater, Westlake, Muirhead

    Website Man of the Match: John Guidetti

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