Celtic 2-0 Kilmarnock: Jota and Kyogo Furuhashi goals send champions 12 points clear at top of Premiership | Football News

Celtic established a formidable 12-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at Parkhead.

Derek McInnes’ side arrived with the intention of making it tough for the champions and succeeded in their objective for the majority of the first half thanks to some stubborn defending, but Jota finally broke the deadlock with a sliding close-range finish at the end of the opening period.

Celtic upped their intensity in the second half, quickly doubling their lead through Kyogo Furuhashi, and they should have made the scoreline far more convincing but spurned several further chances.

The result puts the pressure on Rangers, who will be looking to close the gap at the top of the table to nine points when they travel to Dundee United on Sunday – live on Sky Sports – while Kilmarnock remain ninth.

Player ratings

Celtic: Hart (6), Johnston (7), Carter-Vickers (7), Starfelt (8), Bernabei (7), Mooy (7), McGregor (7), Hatate (8), Jota (8), Kyogo (7 ), Meeda (7).

Subs: Giakoumakis (7), Abada (6), O’Riley (6), Forrest (n/a), Turnbull (n/a).

Kilmarnock: Walker (7), Wright (5), Taylor (4), Stokes (5), Mayo (6), McKenzie (6), Polworth (6), Power (6), Chrisene (6), Robinson (5), Vassell (4).

Subs: Doidge (5), Lyons (6), Armstrong (5), Murray (6), McInroy (n/a).

Player of the match: Jota

Celtic waste chances but continue march towards title

Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates with Reo Hatate after doubling Celtic's advantage at Kilmarnock
Image:
Kyogo Furuhashi (left) celebrates with Reo Hatate after doubling Celtic’s advantage at Kilmarnock

The incentive for Celtic to get back to winning ways after salvaging a late draw at Rangers on Monday it was clear, with the opportunity to move 12 points ahead of their rivals not one they were keen to pass up.

But while Ange Postecoglou’s side dominated possession they were unable to create any chances, with Kilmarnock packing players around their own area and being perfectly happy to take their time whenever the ball went out of play.

Celtic’s supporters quickly grew frustrated with the visitors’ gameplan but it was down to their side to break Kimarnock down – something they were eventually able to do through Jota.

The goal came when Daizen Maeda finally found space behind the Kilmarnock defense and used it to send in an inviting cross from the left for the Portuguese forward, who turned the ball past Sam Walker after Kyogo missed his kick.

News team

  • Celtic made three changes to their side, with Alexandro Bernabei, Aaron Mooy and Jota coming in for Greg Taylor, Matt O’Riley and James Forrest
  • Kilmarnock also made three alterations to their starting XI, with Chris Stokes, Alan Power and Kyle Vassell replacing Danny Armstrong, Blair Alston and Christian Doidge

The Japanese forward had his goal shortly after half-time though, when he finished from countryman Reo Hatate’s excellent right-wing cross to double Celtic’s lead.

That goal seemed to end any hopes Kilmarnock had of picking up a result at the home of the champions and Celtic were able to create chances at will – but somehow failed to take any of them.

Substitute Georgios Giakoumakis hit the post with a header before rattling the crossbar with a curling long-range effort just moments later, while James Forrest missed two glorious chances late on – the first being saved by Walker and the second coming back off the post from a matter of yards.

Matt O’Riley also saw a shot expertly tipped round the post by Walker but the missed opportunities could not dampen the spirits of the Celtic fans, who celebrated another win on what they hope will be the path to back-to-back league titles.

Postecoglou praises Giakoumakis display amid speculation

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Ange Postecoglou reflects on Celtic’s 2-0 win over Kilmarnock which extends his team’s lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership

Celtic boss Postecoglou praised Giakoumakis for his attitude after the substitute threatened several times amid ongoing speculation over his future.

The Greek forward reportedly wants a move after talks over an improved contract fell through and he has not started since October, but he showed plenty of hunger after replacing Kyogo just after the hour mark

Postecoglou said: “Apart from the fact Georgios was unlucky not to score, his work rate, his tracking back, the way he was holding the ball up for us, he was good. He worked his socks off and he has all the time. “

When asked about his future, the manager said: “I just deal with what is in front of me. ‘Jacko’ has been working hard and Kyogo is in great form, scoring every week, so he is having to come on and make a contribution and he hasn’t flinched from that.

“I don’t think about who I want to keep or who wants to leave, I just work on the basis of the group I have in front of me. If anything changes, I deal with it.

“People have their own ambitions in their football career. My goal is to make sure we are supporting them in their endeavors. It they think opportunity is better for them elsewhere, then we will go through that process.

“I don’t think about it because I may want to keep all of them but I could get offers in for them.

“I think it was my first year of coaching that my favorite player left me after two games because he had a better offer, so I have never fallen in love with them.”

McInnes: We must maintain concentration

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Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes reflects on his side’s 2-0 defeat at Celtic ahead of the League Cup semi-final between the clubs

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes – whose side face a rematch with Celtic in the League Cup semi-finals next weekend – praised his players’ organization and attention to detail until the opener, saying: “It’s a reminder to us ahead of next week that that concentration is needed.

“Players will be looking at the clock too and that concentration must be there. For the first time we allowed Maeda inside us. As soon as the ball is played Jota is on his way. He attacks the space brilliantly – and better than any of our players – and that’s why he gets his goal.We have to sense danger that bit quicker.

“The second goal comes from us attacking. One or two decisions allowed us to be counter-attacked. We then tired a bit.

“There is enough encouragement for next week but we are going to have to be pitch perfect, and we weren’t quite there.”

What’s next?

Celtic’s attention turns to the League Cup, with a rematch against Kilmarnock in the semi-finals at Hampden Park on Saturday – kick-off 3pm.

Ange Postecoglou’s side’s next Scottish Premiership match is at home to St Mirren on January 18, kick-off 7.45pm.

After their trip to Celtic next Saturday, Kilmarnock’s next league game is at home to Rangers on January 18 – live on Sky Sports – kick-off 8pm.

Wednesday 18th January 7:30pm

Kick off 8:00pm


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