Kilmarnock 0-1 Celtic: Late Tom Rogic winner gets Celtic out of jail
Last Updated: 20/03/16 8:33am
Celtic needed a last-minute wonder strike from Tom Rogic to secure a 1-0 victory on Saturday lunchtime against luckless Kilmarnock.
The visitors had been frustrated in a disjointed, uninspiring contest in which neither side carried much of a goal threat, the match blighted by misplaced passes and poor touches on the much-debated artificial surface.
That was until substitute Rogic took matters into his own hands, collecting a pass 30 yards from goal, easing away from Julien Faubert before arrowing the ball past the flailing Jamie MacDonald into the top corner.
The goal moved Celtic four points clear of Aberdeen again and its value will only become clear come the final reckoning in May, but it must have felt priceless to a delighted, jig-dancing Ronny Deila on the touchline.
In a bright opening, in contrast to much of what was to follow, Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon had to make an instinctive save to keep out Kris Boyd's volley on the stretch while Nir Bitton saw his shot deflected narrowly wide.
Leigh Griffiths headed straight at Kilmarnock goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, and from a corner moments later Erik Sviatchenko glanced a free header wide from six yards.
Boyd was unable to connect with another deflected cross as he lurked with intent eight yards out and the former Rangers man caused more consternation in the visitors' rearguard as he forced Gordon to hack clear and Kallum Higginbotham's attempted lob drifted wide of the unguarded goal.
Kilmarnock's Lee Hodson curled a fine effort a fraction wide and the same player did well to block the busy Patrick Roberts as the substitute looked to pull the trigger.
With Celtic struggling to build momentum, Faubert headed a Sviatchenko header off the line and Kazim-Richards shot tamely from 18 yards.
The hosts, freshly emboldened, sensed their chance and lively substitute Aaron Splaine had Gordon scrambling with a low drive while Griffiths was on his knees after watching a late effort from distance whistle narrowly wide.
But just when Kilmarnock looked certain to harvest another point in the scrap for survival, Callum McGregor fed Rogic to drive a dagger into home hearts with his thumping left-foot hit - a glorious conclusion of an otherwise eminently forgettable contest.