Celtic close in on leaders Aberdeen

Scottish Premiership:

Celtic close in on leaders Aberdeen

Celtic closed the gap on Scottish Premiership leaders Aberdeen to one point with a convincing 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last night.

The returning Kris Commons hit the bar twice in the first-half before left-back Emilio Izaguirre drove the dominant visitors ahead in the 36th minute.

Striker Stefan Scepovic, also handed a rare start by boss Ronny Deila, made it 2-0 from close range in the 71st minute but that goal did not come close to reflecting the grip the champions had on a one-sided affair.

While having a game in hand over the Dons, Deila takes his side off to a winter break in Gran Canaria this morning — they will play PSV Eindhoven and Sparta Prague — with next week’s game against St Johnstone cancelled.

Celtic controlled the early stages with attacking midfielder Stefan Johansen and Liam Henderson having efforts blocked.

A disjointed Killie side offered little aside from stubborn resistance and the Hoops kept probing.

In the 16th minute the sprightly Commons assumed control of an Izaguirre pass 25 yards out and promptly smacked the bar with a vicious left-footed drive.

Another drive from Commons in the 25th minute, this time from closer range, also struck the bar before flying over.

The home side fell behind when Johansen knocked the ball into the supporting Izaguirre who lashed a shot high past helpless Killie keeper Craig Samson.

Celtic sealed the victory from a Johansen corner which was headed towards goal by Hoops stopper Efe Ambrose, leaving Scepovic to poke it over the line from a yard out.

KILMARNOCK: Samson, Barbour, Ashcroft, Connolly, Chantler, McKenzie, O’Hara, Hamill (Pascali 80), Johnston (Muirhead 35), Eremenko, Magennis.

CELTIC: Gordon, Matthews (Fisher 75), Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre, Brown, Biton, Johansen, Commons, Henderson (McGregor 85), Scepovic (Guidetti 82).

Referee: Kevin Clancy.

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