CELTIC PARK. 3PM K.O.
Celtic took to the field for a 3pm kick off with no television coverage. The opposition came in the form of Kilmarnock who were bearing a striking resemblance to the Brasil National team, decked out in yellow jersey and blue shorts. For the first ten minutes it seemed to be to their advantage as they set off in a pressing manner with a few early attacks. This paid off in 6 mins after Jozo Simunovic had a nibble at Kilmarnock striker Eamon Brophy just outside the box. The Killie player done well to keep his composure and that was more than could be said of Jozo as the defender tried to recover from the first tackle but only managed to use his forearm to lean all his weight on the striker who went to ground. A Clear penalty that was struck cleanly to the right side of Fraser Forester to give the visitors a lead in just 6 minutes.
This seemed to rattle Celtic into gear after a tough fought draw on the Thursday evening in Copenhagen. With the smell of blood in their nostrils in the form of a ninth straight title win the Hoops didn’t look back. They started to play to their strengths and this saw Kilmarnock withdraw deeper and deeper with every Celtic attack. Lennon had reverted back to the domestic set up of three at the back, two strikers and the wingers playing a big part. This formation has yielded 32 goals for the Bhoys since their winter break in Dubai. Only an in form display by Kilmarnock goalkeeper Branescu kept the home side at bay with firm saves against Rogic, Griffiths and a tip over from Jozo.
Celtic pulled themselves level on 28 minutes with a corner swung in from Griffiths to the far end of the box, Julien controlled it and trickled it back to Ajer who was waiting to turn it in. 1-1 and game on. The second goal arrived only 5 minutes later for Celtic and it wasn’t pretty. Greg Taylor getting forward on the left put a cross in that was met by the head of Simunovic, as it made its way toward goal the Killie keeper got tangled up with his defender Broadfoot and the French magician Edourd forced it over the line. It was all Celtic as Kilmarnock found no outlet to get them forward but they made it to halftime just one goal behind.
The second half was much the same as the first with Celtic having the Lions share of possession and attempts on goal and again thwarted mainly by Branescu in goals for the Ayrshire side. Kilmarnock would be reduced to 10 men in 57 minutes after what appeared a two footed lunge at the lively Frimpong that upended him. Alan Power the guilty party would see his second yellow for the red and his marching orders. It didn’t make a big difference to the overall play and score. Griffiths was making the usual nuisance of himself without any end product but that would change on 62 minutes. Edourd made toward the left side of the box and played a through ball to Christie who made to the bye line and tee’d it up for Griffiths who was free in the centre to sweep the ball into the net. Griff would also have another disallowed for offside a few minutes later. Game over and Celtic we’re happy to retain possession and what seemed like most of the team stepping forward to take a shot with no avail. This certainly could have been double figures but for the very active Kilmarnock goalkeeper.
A memorable moment arrived on 71 minutes for anyone in the Taylor household. Young Ally Taylor took to the field for his Kilmarnock debut and go up against his big brother Gregg who had another amazing game in the Hoops. Both shared the magic of their personal experience with a brotherly hug at full time. Fair play and Ally should look no further than his sibling for inspiration to rise through the game.
MOTM: Yet another fine display by Edourd as the big man showed his worth to a Celtic side that is mouth watering to watch at the moment. For me a special mention must go to Laurentiu Branescu. The big Romanian goalkeeper started his career at Juventus and has seen the 25 year old with 9 previous clubs before Kilmarnock and very little game time to boast. With this showing I’d like to say he should have a brighter future ahead.
Meanwhile the reigning champions continued a very successful period with 15 league wins from the last 16 at home. 32 goals have been scored since the winter break and with the huns dropping points again at St Johnstone this left Celtic 12 points clear and 20 goals better off in our rampant run to nine in a row. A very competent and comfortable canter with nearly a full squad back and at it. Tails are up and this new formation and the inclusion of Griffiths is good for the fans and the club. Roll on Thursday night in our return game at Celtic Park against Danish Champions Copenhagen. I fancy it.
67: Forester. 12: Branescu.
5: Simunovic 26: Del Fabio - Taylor 71’
2: Julien. 17: Findlay.
35: Ajer. 19: Broadfoot.
30: Frimpong. 2: O’Donnell.
18: Rogic. - Elyounoussi 74’. 8: Dicker.
42: McGregor. 15: El Makrini.
17: Christie. 6: Power.
3: Taylor. 14: Hämäläinen.
9: Griffiths. - Bitton 82’. 9: Brophy. - Kiltie 65’
22: Edourd. - Bayo 10’. 27: Kabamba
6: Bitton. 5: Johnson.
10: Bayo. 10: Kiltie.
11: Klimala 22: Millen.
13: Bauer. 24: Koprivec.
23: Bolingoli. 29: Burke.
27: Elyounoussi. 33: Taylor.
29: Bain. 52: Connell.
66% POSSESSION 34%
30. SHOTS. 3
13. ON TARGET 1.
1. YELLOW. 1.
0. RED. 1.
REFEREE: Kevin Clancy.