O'Neill hopes Baldé will see out season

Kilmarnock 0 - Celtic 1

Bobo Baldé's giant frame may have to wait a while until it is added to the Teesside horizon. Celtic admitted yesterday that they want their towering defender to remain at Parkhead until the summer, even if he signs a pre-contract agreement with Middlesbrough today.

Bobo Baldé's giant frame may have to wait a while until it is added to the Teesside horizon. Celtic admitted yesterday that they want their towering defender to remain at Parkhead until the summer, even if he signs a pre-contract agreement with Middlesbrough today.

Martin O'Neill insisted after the hard-earned success at Rugby Park that restored the champions to the top of the Scottish Premier League that his wish is for Baldé to stay put, rather than trying to cash in by getting a fee for him now.

"I will be sad to see him go, if that's what he decides," O'Neill said. "He has had four good seasons with us. This is not about money. We turned down a bid from Newcastle for him last August, and I'd prefer him here to help us win the title."

If Baldé was at the heart of Celtic's defensive defiance in the second half, it is Chris Sutton who remains head and shoulders above all others in Celtic's quest for the championship .

The striker netted his seventh goal in eight games, with a penalty that was scant reward for Celtic's first-half show. In the 38th minute when Thompson flighted a free-kick into the box, Danny Invincibile rose with John Hartson and the Kilmarnock midfielder thrust up his arm to concede the decisive penalty.

Goal: Sutton pen (38) 0-1.

Kilmarnock (4-4-2): Combe; Ford, Lilley, Fontaine, Hay; Invincibile (Wales, 81), Locke, McDonald, Leven; Boyd (Nish, 57), Naismith (Johnston, 67). Substitutes not used: Smith, Fowler, Murray, Dodds.

Celtic (4-4-2): Douglas; McNamara, Balde, Varga, Laursen; McGeady (Camara, 69), Lennon, Petrov, Thompson; Hartson, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Marshall, Juninho, Lambert, Wallace, Lawson, McManus.

Referee: I Brines.

Booked: Kilmarnock: Hay, McDonald, Locke. Celtic: Hartson, Lennon, Petrov.

Man of the match: Petrov.

Attendance: 9,723.

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