Inspired Agathe leaves Killie aghast

Celtic 5 Kilmarnock 1
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The Independent Football

On the day an appeal fund was launched to sustain Celtic's legendary winger, Jimmy Johnstone, in his hour of need, Didier Agathe drew inspiration to prompt the destruction of Kilmarnock.

The Frenchman may not be the box of tricks that Johnstone was, but his speed on the right flank unlocked a defence as surely as his predecessor from Celtic's 1967 European Cup-winning side. Agathe scored one and made two in a second-half goalrush that swept Kilmarnock out of Parkhead after almost an hour of resistance.

Johnstone was voted third in the European Footballer of the Year poll in that golden season 37 years ago, but these days he suffers from motor neurone disease. His contribution, however, is not forgotten. Celtic fans donated £20,000 to a fund for their former hero.

Perhaps such a sombre note cast a shadow over the first half, but Celtic were far from inspired as they pursued their 21st successive win in the Scottish Premier League this season. The only moment of note came when Chris Sutton met a fine cross from Stephen Pearson and hit the underside of the bar with his header before Gordon Greer hooked the ball clear.

Kilmarnock's clever offside trap denied Celtic any glimpse of goal, but that changed after the interval when the leaders stepped up the tempo and not only broke the deadlock but swamped the visitors with four goals in 22 minutes.

Agathe provided the goal that the 59,138 crowd craved in the 55th minute, using his pace to punch a hole in Kilmarnock's barrier on the right, giving the ball to John Hartson, taking the return and thrashing a fierce right-foot shot into the roof of the net.

Ten minutes later, Celtic had doubled their advantage. Agathe left his marker, Garry Hay, gulping for oxygen before scooping over a fine cross which Hartson planted past the visiting goalkeeper, François Dubourdeau, with a clinical header. Henrik Larsson killed the contest in the 76th minute when Agathe again drove forward, drawing three defenders to him before deftly slipping a pass to Larsson, whose shot provided his 21st goal of the season.

Barely a minute later, Neil Lennon threaded a pass into Pearson's surging run down the middle, and Celtic's new signing scored his second in two games by sliding a shot under Dubourdeau.

However, the best finish of the day came from Kilmarnock. Eric Skora scored his first goal for the club after exchanging passes with Kris Boyd and lobbing Robert Douglas from 22 yards.

Celtic, though, had the final word. Substitute Shaun Maloney teased David Lilley before delivering a cross that was ruthlessly headed in by Hartson.

Celtic 5
Agathe 55, Hartson 65, 89, Larsson 76, Pearson 77

Kilmarnock 1
Skora 84

Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 59,138