Petrov's spark secures victory but Strachan still fumes

Kilmarnock 0 Celtic 1
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The Independent Football

He said that his counterpart, Jim Jefferies, who he last encountered in an opposition dugout in the 2000-01 season, when Strachan's Coventry and Jefferies' Bradford were both relegated from the Premiership, would be happier with his players' performance. "We picked up the ball well enough in midfield, but in the final third of the pitch our quality went right downhill," Strachan said.

"We set a certain standard and I don't think the standard was met by six of our players. Three points is the main thing. But the main thing in terms of where we want to take the club is getting our performances right in the long term." For all that, Celtic have lost only once this season and lie second, only three points behind unbeaten Hearts.

Petrov's intervention in the 24th minute made the difference. After Chris Sutton had taken the ball to the edge of the penalty area and held it there, muscling off a challenge, Petrov burst from midfield to pick it from his feet. The Bulgarian then skipped through a triangle of defenders before clipping a measured, angled shot over Graeme Smith in the home goal. Shaun Maloney, one of several Scottish international prospects trying to make an impact in Celtic's first team, could have opened the scoring earlier but blazed over.

Craig Beattie, already a senior Scotland man, saw a header thud against the bar, and later missed several other chances. For Kilmarnock, Garry Hay tested Artur Boruc but his curling long-range effort was held. Steven Naismith had one of several better chances but, despite having time and space, hurried a half-volley over the bar.

Goal: Petrov (24) 0-1.

Kilmarnock (4-4-2): Smith; Fowler, Lilley, Greer, Hay; Invincibile, McDonald (Wales, 77), Locke, Johnston; Naismith (Nish, 77; Dodds, 82), Boyd. Substitutes not used: Bell (gk), Wright, Campbell, Flannigan.

Celtic (4-1-3-2): Boruc; Telfer, Baldé, McManus, Camara; Lennon; Nakamura (McGeady, 90), Petrov, Maloney (Thompson, 82); Sutton, Beattie (Hartson, 71). Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Virgo, Wallace, Pearson.

Referee: I Brines.

Booked: Kilmarnock Locke; Celtic Baldé.

Man of the match: Petrov.

Attendance: 10,544.