Australian international Tom Rogic scored a brilliant last-minute winner to seal a 1-0 victory over relegation-threatened Kilmarnock at Rugby Park that keeps Celtic’s title bid on track.
The Hoops looked to be heading to a third consecutive draw against Kilmarnock this season when substitute Rogic fired a sensational 30-yard strike into the top corner that sparked scenes of wild celebration on the Celtic bench.
The win re-establishes Celtic’s four-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership over Aberdeen, who face Motherwell at Fir Park later on Saturday, and ensures they will head into the international break on top of the table.
“We didn’t play well at all but sometimes that’s the best way to win,” Celtic manager Ronny Deila said. “We fought hard and the fans were unbelievable today and we gave them something to cheer about in the end.”
Kilmarnock, meanwhile, remain in the relegation play-off place, five points from safety and eight points clear of bottom side Dundee United, but having played two games more.
Both sides had made changes with striker Kris Boyd restored to the Killie line-up for the first time in seven matches and it was the former Rangers man who tested Craig Gordon first with a fierce volley that the ‘keeper did well to stop. Nir Bitton saw a deflected strike go just wide before Kallum Higginbotham wasted a chance for the home side with a wayward shot on goal.
Celtic’s top scorer Leigh Griffiths headed a corner tamely straight to Jamie MacDonald before Erik Sviatchenko was off-target with another headed effort moments later.
Sviatchenko then beat Boyd to a through ball but his attempted clearance only went as far as Higginbotham who lobbed an effort over the head of Gordon but bounced just wide.
Kris Commons fired weakly at MacDonald before setting up Callum McGregor for a chance inside the box but the midfielder saw his shot blocked by the goalkeeper. Commons made way for on-loan Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts at the break but it was Killie who started the second half brighter when Lee Hodson curled a superb shot a fraction wide of Gordon’s far post with the ‘keeper beaten.
Celtic settled into the half and only a last-gasp sliding challenge from defender Mark O’Hara stopped Griffiths getting away his shot when through on goal. Former Real Madrid player Julien Faubert then came to the rescue for Killie as he headed Sviatchenko’s nodded effort off the line as it looked to be sneaking in.
Griffiths came close to his 36th goal of the season with a fabulous drive that arrowed just over the bar. With time running out Kilmarnock appeared to have weathered the storm but a moment of magic from Rogic, an 80th-minute substitute for Bitton, changed the outcome of the match. The Socceroo star turned away from Faubert and moved the ball on to his left foot before sending a stunning strike into the top corner leaving MacDonald with no chance.
Hamilton 1 Partick 2
Hearts 0 St Johnstone 3
Kilmarnock 0 Celtic 1
Motherwell 2 Aberdeen 1
Ross County 0 Inverness CT 3
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