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Glasgow Celtic are off to a 12-point lead on top of the Scottish Premiership after a clear and deserved 3-1 victory over Kilmarnock at home.
The closest challengers, fellow Glasgow side Rangers faced a tough matchup at St. Johnstone and failed to hold on to their lead, succumbing to a 1-1 draw. While the Hoops have a game in hand compared to Celtic, the distance is nine points at the minimum. The Rangers have drawn twice and lost once in their previous five Premiership games, while Celtic have won eight in a row.
There were a couple of question marks for Neil Lennon’s squad ahead of the Kilmarnock fixture. The team had played a hard-fought game on Thursday in Europa League in Copenhagen, which they drew 1-1. Short rest didn’t much affect the starting lineup, as Lennon started seven players who featured against FCK as well. Hard-working midfielder duo Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham got some much needed rest, while Leigh Griffits took the starting role from James Forrest and Greg Taylor returned to his left wing. Tom Rogic and Josip Simunovic got the nod after staying on the bench for the most of the midweek fixture. Judging from the performance, each and every player from the Celtic team could’ve been regular starters for the club as they gave Kilmarnock no chance whatsoever.
Despite going 0-1 down early from a conceded penalty, Celtic never looked like being in any trouble. Kilmarnock’s Eamonn Brophy converted the penalty on the sixth minute, but that was the only shot on goal in the first half and eventually in the whole game. Celtic quickly recovered from the early setback and defensive-expert-turned-offensive-weapon Kristoffer Ajer scored a second consecutive goal in two Premiership games to equalize. The go-ahead goal was scored five minutes later on 33rd minute by a more usual suspect as Odsonne Edouard took his total tally to 21 goals. Celtic truly dominated the half and kept their opponents at bay, while constantly causing problems for Kilmarnock’s defense and goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu.
The visitor’s comeback effort was cut short early in the second half, with Alan Power thrown out after a second yellow card on 57th minute. Leigh Griffiths then took the home team 3-1 up on 62nd minute and that was enough to secure the three points.