Kilmarnock lost their first game without Alex Dyer as Celtic secured a comprehensive 4-0 win at Rugby Park.
Scott Brown headed Celtic into a first half lead after an opening 45 minutes in which the Hoops dominated the ball. Odsonne Edouard doubled the lead from the penalty spot eight minutes into the second half before adding another goal eight minutes after that, Albian Ajeti getting in on the act six minutes from time. Killie remain ninth after the defeat.
It was a fairly bleak outlook for both these teams heading into this and a positive result on either side would life some spirits, more so Killie, for whom Celtic would still be a major scalp. They started the game though without a manager after Dyer’s departure following a torrid run of form that’s left them in a relegation scrap.
The game started in a lively manner, Celtic having a penalty claim waved away before Edouard scuffed an effort in the box after nice build-up play nine minutes in. Chris Burke went close up the other end two minutes later.
It soon started to turn into a possession-dominated Celtic display and they would have their opener from a set-piece before the half-hour mark. David Turnbull floated in a lovely corner which was headed into the corner by Brown as the Hoops took control.
Killie probed before half-time but little was happening. Then a sucker punch was landed eight minutes into the half, Colin Doyle not dealing with a ball collection before Kevin Clancy deemed that the keeper brought down Ajeti in the box.
This frustrated the Killie players immensely as Edouard stepped up to put this one beyond the home side. Celtic didn’t have as much urgency going forward after this but were afforded openings as Kilmarnock opened up in search of something.
As they did that, the away side were in again after the hour mark. Edouard was played through on goal and put a nice finish beyond Doyle as three points were secured for the current champions. Insult to injury was had six minutes from time, Ajeti the next to get behind the Kilmarnock defence to finish the scoring on the night. Here are three things we learned.
It’s been a pretty turbulent few days for Killie. After losing 3-2 to St Johnstone on Saturday, having been 2-0 up, their manager left. That left the club operating on Deadline Day without a boss and with just two days to prepare for Celtic.
Kilmarnock didn’t look like taking something from this against a Hoops side who had upped their game from recent weeks. Dyer’s assistant Andy Millen was the vocal presence on the touchline but they’ll want the Rugby Park manager position filled quickly.
Even without a manager at the helm, Killie still made two Deadline Day signings. Winger Brandon Pierrick arrived from Crystal Palace while centre-back Zech Medley signed from Arsenal, both on loan.
Pierrick got a 20 minute cameo while Medley made the bench. The Palace loanee looked pacey and tricky which will be a plus for Killie, as those are elements they have missed this term. With defensive injury problems mounting too, expect Medley to get minutes in upcoming matches.
Needing a result
Victories over Hamilton and Motherwell in December and the New Year were boosts for Kilmarnock but consistent results need to appear. That’s now nine defeats in 12 games for Killie.
A victory for the Steelmen over Dundee United on Wednesday could see Kilmarnock drop to 10th, Motherwell the visitors at Rugby Park next Wednesday. That looks set to be a crucial encounter.
NTOF now offers a YouTube channel featuring exclusive interviews, post-match discussion, in-depth debate, and much more – LIKE and SUBSCRIBE and don’t miss any of our videos.