Celtic 3-1 Kilmarnock – BBC Sport

Celtic’s Stuart Armstrong scored his 14th goal of the season against Killie

Champions Celtic survived a brief second-half scare before cruising to a comfortable victory over Kilmarnock.

Stuart Armstrong gave the hosts the lead with a 25-yard drive that flew in through a crowd of players.

Jordan Jones drew Killie level against the run of play after the break but Scott Sinclair soon made it 2-1 Celtic.

James Forrest nodded home the third to confirm Celtic’s win and put an end to Killie’s hopes of securing a top-six finish this season.

With sixth-place Partick Thistle beating Motherwell 1-0 at Firhill, they cannot be caught in the race for a top-six berth.

Killie pack defence

Lee McCulloch’s side gave the champions a guard of honour as they took to the field and the interim boss showed Celtic further respect by deploying a five-man defence.

Gary Dicker, Iain Wilson and Scott Boyd filled the central roles with Luke Hendrie and Greg Taylor occupying the full-back berths. The formation restricted Celtic early on but the problem for Killie was that every one of their clearances dropped to players in green and white.

Midfielder Stuart Armstrong fires Celtic ahead with a fine strike from 25 yards

Chances eventually came for the hosts, with Sinclair firing wide from Forrest’s cross before Callum McGregor’s deflected effort was tipped over by keeper Freddie Woodman.

Stu dunnit

The breakthrough arrived midway through the first half and it was the player of the month for March who did the damage. Armstrong decided to try his luck from distance and his shot appeared to take a slight touch as it flew past Woodman for the midfielder’s 14th goal of the season.

Last ditch tackles from Wilson and Boyd denied McGregor and Armstrong before Kieran Tierney sent a left foot volley wide of the target as the home side were unable to increase their lead before the interval.

At times it was like a training game for Celtic as they maximised possession and Killie sat back and hoped to hit them on the break.

The tactic paid off, though, as the Rugby Park men squared it against the run of play. Conor Sammon’s attempted shot broke into the path of Jones and his effort from 16 yards took a deflection to beat Craig Gordon.

Rodgers’ men respond

That goal spurred Celtic into action and from a free kick delivered by Armstrong, Dedryck Boyata’s headed knockdown was turned across the face of goal by McGregor for Sinclair to net with a close range tap in.

James Forrest provides a simple finish to secure the win for Celtic

Moussa Dembele made an immediate impact as a substitute, contributing to Celtic’s third goal. His deflected shot came back off the Killie keeper’s left hand post and winger Forrest headed the rebound into the net from two yards out.

The result extends Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run to 39 games as Killie experienced their first defeat away from home in their last seven games.

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