Celtic 2 Kilmarnock 0: McGeady's late strike glosses over the complacency afflicting Celtic

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The Independent Football

Goals in each half by Darren O'Dea and the substitute Aiden McGeady earned Celtic victory over Kilmarnock in their Scottish Premier League meeting at Parkhead yesterday.

A dire first half came to life when Jiri Jarosik's header from a Shunsuke Nakamura free-kick landed at the feet of the Irishman and he wasted no time in slamming it past the Killie goalkeeper Graeme Smith from around eight yards.

The Hoops dominated the second half and in the last minute McGeady, on for Derek Riordan, picked up a Nakamura pass and slipped the ball past Smith to wrap up the three points.

It was a comfortable enough win in the end for the champions, but once again there was a distinct lack of quality in their play, not helped, it can be assumed, by their healthy lead at the top of the table.

The champions took time to awake from their slumber but in the 12th minute Riordan played in Craig Beattie with a clever reverse pass at the edge of the penalty area. However, the Celtic striker, making his first SPL start of the season, snatched at his shot and put it wide.

In the 35th minute, however, the Rugby Park side missed the best chance of the half when they broke four against two in a counter-attack. Gary Wales drove at the back-tracking Stephen Pressley - the former Hearts captain making his debut for Celtic - before slipping the ball to Rhian Dodds but he fired past the far post with only Artur Boruc to beat.

Kilmarnock were made to pay for that miss four minutes later when they fell behind to an O'Dea goal.

Nakamura's free-kick from the right found Jarosik but his header was blocked by a crowd of bodies only to fall to the young Irishman, who slammed the ball into the net from close range.

In the 50th minute Kilmarnock might have equalised if the unmarked Wales had converted Hay's cross, rather than flicking his header wide.

Then, with tensions rising, Kilmarnock's manager, Jim Jefferies, was sent to the stand by the referee, Steve Conroy, at the behest of his fourth official, Alan Boyd, after prolonged complaints at an earlier decision.

With three minutes to go Jarosik hit the post with a header after being set up by Nakamura.

Then, in the last minute, the Celtic substitute McGeady, on for Riordan, picked up a Nakamura pass and slipped the ball past Smith to seal the victory. Better performances may have to wait for another day.

Celtic: Boruc; Telfer, Pressley, O'Dea, Naylor, Nakamura, Lennon, Jarosik, Riordan (McGeady, 72), Beattie (Vennegoor of Hesselink, 65), Zurawski (Miller, 90). Substitutes not used: Marshall, Sno, Gravesen, Lawson.

Kilmarnock: Smith; Fowler, Greer, Frazer Wright, Hay (Johnston, 79), Ford, Grant Murray, Dodds (Naismith, 71), Leven, Wales (Barrowman, 79), Invincibile. Substitutes not used: Harpur, Stephen Murray, Adams, Campbell.

Referee: S Conroy (Scotland).