Celtic rounded off a momentous week with a convincing victory at Kilmarnock. The Hoops' 2-1 home win over Spartak Moscow on Wednesday night sealed their place in the last 16 of the Champions' League and they continued their good work in Ayrshire, starting when their captain, Scott Brown, fired them into the lead in the 27th minute.
Second-half goals from the mid fielder Joe Ledley and substitute Georgios Samaras, on for Lassad Nouioui, were just reward for the Parkhead side's dominance, before former Hoop Cillian Sheridan grabbed a late consolation goal for Killmarnock.
The win was hard on manager Neil Lennon's pocket. "I had a £20 bet with [Ledley and Brown] before the game, so I am £40 out of pocket," he revealed. "I wanted them to chip in with some goals. Joe is capable of that and Scott has it in his game, but their overall play pleased me as well. Scott had a great game, back to his best."
Celtic have struggled at times in post-European games this season – only one point from nine following their previous three Champions' League ties, including a 2-0 home defeat to Killie in October. But there was no danger this time as Lennon's side cemented their place as SPL leaders.
They almost created a chance as early as the fifth minute when Ledley teed up Gary Hooper, but his pass to Brown inside the box was just too strong.
Killie, with Sheridan partnering Paul Heffernan in attack, began to inch their way up the park and almost took the lead in the 18th minute, but Heffernan hit Sheridan's lobbed cross into the side-netting. Then, just before the half-hour, Brown broke the deadlock with a goal of simplicity. Adam Matthews took a pass from Hooper and picked out the Scotland midfielder, who calmly guided the ball home from 12 yards.
Lassad Nouioui had the ball in the net just before the break, but the flag was up for offside, and a minute into the second half Heffernan should have levelled from eight yards but his drive was blocked by Charlie Mulgrew.
Celtic stretched their lead when the home side failed to clear their lines. Victor Wanyama picked up the loose ball, played in Brown, and when his driven cross came into the middle, the sliding Ledley forced in the ball from a few yards.
Samaras made an immediate impact after coming on. Following another driving run by Matthews, the big Greek striker headed the Wales international's deep cross past Cammy Bell and in off the bar. Sheridan provided Killie's late consolation when he volleyed in Jeroen Tesselaar's cross.
Kilmarnock (4-4-2): Bell; Tesselaar, Fowler, O'Leary, Nelson; Racchi (Sissoko, 56), Kelly, Harkins (McKenzie, 68), Perez (O'Hara, 68); Heffernan, Sheridan.
Celtic (3-4-3): Forster; Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew; Matthews, Izaguirre (Kayal, 76), Brown, Ledley; Nouioui (Samaras, 66), Wanyama, Hooper (Miku, 82).
Referee Craig Thomson.
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