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Kilmarnock 1 - 3 Celtic - Negative For Celtic Was The Loss Of Jeremie Frimpong
Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths both scored as Celtic maintained a two-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with victory at Kilmarnock.

Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths both scored as Celtic maintained a two-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with victory at Kilmarnock.

Edouard superbly slotted home his 14th league goal of the season before the break as strike partner Griffiths added his second in two games.

Despite Celtic's dominance, Kilmarnock threatened to come back after Nicke Kabamba's clever header.But Christopher Jullien restored the two-goal lead just seven minutes later.

Celtic still lead rivals Rangers by two points, having played a game more than the Ibrox side as the Premiership resumed following a three-week winter break.

The only negative for Celtic was the loss of Jeremie Frimpong to injury in stoppage time as the right-back was carried off on a stretcher.

Neil Lennon's decision to emerge from the winter hibernation with a new system was perhaps induced by the slight downturn in control and intensity in Celtic's performances - if not results - throughout December, which ended with a painful defeat by rivals Rangers.

A 3-5-2 was a formation he used with great success at Hibernian, and when your options up front include the league's current top goalscorer and the top flight's most prolific forward of the last decade, then it's perhaps no surprise the Celtic manager sought to get both on the pitch at the same time.

Despite the assumption that modern strikers prefer to fly solo, Edouard and Griffiths both put in superb performances at Rugby Park that hinted this could be a long-term option and not just a means to compensate for the loss of the prolific Ryan Christie from midfield through suspension.

For the opening goal, Edouard had no right to control Frimpong's cross on the turn given the deflection that would have deceived most, but he stopped it dead. Then, in another cruel flash of his feet, he left Alan Power flat on his back before calmly finishing across goal.

It capped a good opening 24 minutes for Celtic in which Edouard shone - a rare poor finish aside - as he generally caused a nuisance whenever he touched the ball.

There were other opportunities, too, Callum McGregor firing just wide after Edouard had mesmerised four blue shirts to create space for him.

Not to be outdone, Griffiths doubled the lead after the break with a low finish after more good work from Frimpong allowed McGregor to poke the ball towards him in the box.

And the new strike partnership continued to shine, as first Griffiths deftly poked a ball through for Edouard, who was denied by Jan Koprivec, and then the Scotland striker's dummy for his partner allowed him to race clear to force another fine stop from the Kilmarnock goalkeeper.

But despite the pair's menace, Celtic's pile of missed chances - for seven minutes at least - threatened to topple them when Kabamba cleverly diverted Power's shot past Fraser Forster to narrow the lead to a single goal.

That was Kilmarnock's first league goal in six matches, and despite riding their luck they carried a threat in the second half that will give manager Alex Dyer hope, even if Jullien's towering header from Griffiths' pinpoint corner consigned them to a sixth straight league loss.

The injury to Frimpong, involved in the first two goals, clouded an otherwise bright evening in Ayrshire for Celtic, as any long-term absence would leave Moritz Bauer as the only fit first-team right-back given the continued absence of Hatem Abd Elhamed.

Griffiths too may have sullied an otherwise superb evening as he got involved with a Kilmarnock supporter when he was replaced by Mikey Johnston with 10 minutes left.

McGregor was at the heart of many of Celtic's offensive moves, particularly in the first half. The Scotland midfielder was always keen to support and link with the two main strikers. On one occasion with neat close skills he shimmied his way through the Kilmarnock defence, but just couldn't find the finish to top off the move.

His performance won't have gone unnoticed by the Scotland manager Steve Clarke, who was watching from the main stand, and neither will that of Griffiths. The striker not only scored his second goal in two games but showed his quality from set-pieces with his corner kick delivery for Jullien's goal.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: "It was a great performance at a difficult venue. I thought we could have won the game by a lot more.

"[Edouard and Griffiths] played well together, I thought their link up play at times was very good."

Posted by voc1967 on Thursday 23 January 2020 - 11:54:00 | Comments (0)  |  printer friendly
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