Parkhead: League leaders Celtic gave a debut to new signing Steven Pressley for their Scottish Premier League clash against Kilmarnock at Parkhead. The former Hearts captain, signed last Friday, went straight into the heart of defence in place of Stephen McManus, who was rested. Mid-table Kilmarnock had not won at Parkhead since 1955, nor at any time against Celtic in their last 15 meetings, so there was an inevitable air of confidence among the home support about the outcome before the kick-off. But there was little to cheer about for the first 35 minutes with the defences well on top. The visitors created the first clear chance eight minutes before the break when they broke four against two in a counter-attack. Gary Wales drove at the back-tracking Pressley before slipping the ball to Rhian Dodds who drove past the far post with only Artur Boruc to beat. Kilmarnock were made to pay for that miss four minutes later when they fell behind to a Darren O'Dea goal. Shunsuke Nakamura's free-kick from the right found Jiri Jarosik, whose header was blocked by a crowd of bodies, only for the ball to fall to the young Irishman who slammed the ball into the net from close range. Missed opportunities The home side were a whisker away from doubling the lead 13 minutes after the break as Derek Riordan picked up a Pressley pass, turned onto his right foot and sent a shot from 22 metres crashing off the Kilmarnock crossbar. Then, as tensions rose, Kilmarnock manager Jim Jefferies was sent to the stand by referee Steve Conroy at the behest of his fourth official after prolonged complaints at an earlier decision. The home side had a lucky escape in the 74th minute when Frazer Wright's header from a Peter Leven free-kick cannoned off the crossbar, a warning for the home support who were already banking on the three points. Three minutes from time Celtic also hit the post, Jarosik's header coming back off the woodwork after he was set up by Nakamura. Moments later, Celtic were denied by the woodwork for a third time - Dutch substitute Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink's turn and shot too good for Graeme Smith, but rebounding harmlessly into the Kilmarnock goalkeeper's hands. But in the last minute substitute Aiden McGeady, on for Riordan, picked up a Nakamura pass and slipped the ball past Smith to wrap up the three points. So, in the end a comfortable win for the Scottish league leaders who extend their lead at the top of the table to 17 points.
Topics : Football