Kilmarnock 1 Celtic 2: McDonald strikes twice like lightning

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The Independent Online

Scott McDonald sent out a message to Benfica yesterday not to confuse his importance to Celtic after his cameo in Lisbon 10 days ago. The striker had to make do with a Champions' League substitute appearance in the Stadium of Light, but he is undoubtedly the star of Gordon Strachan's side right now.

The Australian struck two goals inside 90 seconds to see off Kilmarnock and maintain Celtic's leadership of the Scottish Premier League. Now he can turn his attention to Portugal's celebrated side, who visit Celtic Park on Tuesday.

"I don't know if I will start, I'll leave that to the manager," McDonald said. "The Milan match was massive and Benficawill be even bigger. Whether it's Benfica, Gretna or Motherwell, I just enjoy scoring."

Fraser Wright halved the deficit with a header after Artur Boruc's misjudgement, but Celtic had their goalkeeper to thank for protecting the three points. McDonald's swift double before the interval procured valuable breathing space for the champions in a contest which is habitually difficult for Celtic. The striker might have broken the deadlock after just three minutes but struck the bar from Scott Brown's cutback and then saw Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink squander a 28th-minute chance from a John Kennedy knockdown, stabbing his finish over the bar.

McDonald's accuracy was unerring six minutes later, however. He controlled a long free-kick from Lee Naylor midway inside Kilmarnock's half and then turned Simon Ford inside out as he advanced into the box and curled a right-foot finish beyond the goalkeeper, Alan Combe.

Combe had no time to catch his breath before he was fishing the ball out of the net again as McDonald struck with the next attack, getting in front of Wright to meet Aiden McGeady's cross and plant a diving header beyond the keeper. However, Kilmarnock brought on Craig Bryson and Gary Locke, and Locke's fine delivery from a free-kick out on the left in the 57th minute ushered Jim Jefferies' side back into the game.

Boruc came to get the ball but failed to, and Wright rose above the posse of players to head into the empty net. Boruc atoned for his sin four minutes later as Colin Nish advanced towards goal, touching the striker's net-bound shot wide of the post.

Jiri Jarosik and McGeady both missed chances with just Combe to beat in the dying moments, but Celtic clung on to their prize.

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