Joy and tears as Celtic claim Scottish title

Kilmarnock 0 Celtic 6

rugby park

With one fist raised, and his other hand clasped to his heart, Neil Lennon stood and took his moment of acclaim. His team had swept Kilmarnock aside, delivering not only the Scottish Premier League title but also justification of the Celtic board's faith in Lennon, of his faith in his players and, most crucially, of his faith in himself. Lennon shed tears when the final whistle blew, and the occasion was briefly overwhelmed by sentiment.

It was, though, an endless celebration. During the course of the match, between the joy that greeted each of the goals, the vast away support sang for each of their heroes, but it always came back to Lennon.

"I feel vindicated," the manager said. "I felt I was on probation, walking behind Gordon Strachan, Martin O'Neill, Wim Jansen, Billy McNeill, Davie Hay and Mr Stein, but now I'm walking alongside them."

This little piece of Ayrshire belonged to Celtic, at least for the duration of a game that wasn't so much about gaining the solitary point that was needed to clinch the SPL title as delivering the culmination of two years of Lennon's management. The occasion centred around the Celtic manager, from the moment he emerged from the tunnel to face a barrage of press photographers and offered a solitary wave to someone in the main stand.

There have been moments of alarm and peril, notably when Lennon's presence as Celtic manager became the focus for a dark hostility. He encountered self-doubt, too, not least when his side were 3-0 down at this ground last October and he allowed his own thoughts to wonder about his job security. Yet with three-quarters of Rugby Park filled with Celtic supporters, this was a hailing of the manager and his achievement.

So there was a symbolism to Lennon's triumph here, a reward for the stoicism he has displayed, but also the sheer bloody-minded desire to lead this team to glory.

He persevered with individuals, and the response has been the much improved displays of players such as Fraser Forster, Charlie Mulgrew, Scott Brown, Joe Ledley and Georgios Samaras. Fittingly, all but the goalkeeper Forster were heavily involved in this emphatic victory.

It was Mulgrew who scored the equalising goal here last October, in a 3-3 draw, and he was central again, scoring twice and setting up two more in the first half. Glenn Loovens and Gary Hooper finished two of his crosses, with Hooper and Ledley scoring in the second half. The goals seemed secondary, though, to relishing the championship victory, Celtic's first in three years.

"I'm delighted for the supporters," Lennon said. "They brought the thunder back, and that means more to me than anything."

Kilmarnock (4-3-1-2): Bell; Fowler, Nelson, Sissoko, Gordon; Johnson (Barbour, 46), Kelly, Hay (Dayton, 46); Shiels; Harkins, Van Turhout.

Celtic (4-3-1-2): Forster; Matthews, Loovens, Wilson, Mulgrew (Blackman, 77); Ki, Brown (Twardzik, 47), Ledley; Commons; Hooper, Samaras.

Referee Alan Muir.

Man of the match Mulgrew (Celtic).

Match rating 6/10.

Suggested Topics
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
techResearchers recover 100s of nude photos from second-hand smartphones
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice