Celtic 1-0 Kilmarnock: Hosts pay tribute to Billy McNeill as they move to brink of league title
Celtic will be champions if Rangers fail to beat Aberdeen, live on Sky Sports Football on Sunday from 2.30pm; Kick-off is at 3pm
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 27/04/19 10:15pm
Celtic are on the brink of an eighth successive Scottish Premiership title after beating Kilmarnock 1-0 on an emotional day at Celtic Park.
On the day that Celtic paid their respects to their European Cup-winning captain Billy McNeill, it was the current No 5 Jozo Simunovic who headed in the only goal with 67 minutes on the clock.
Kilmarnock were left to rue a number of missed chances, with Chris Burke spurning the best of them in the first half, as they slipped to back-to-back defeats.
The win for Celtic means they will be crowned champions should Rangers fail to beat Aberdeen, live on Sky Sports Football on Sunday and, even if Steven Gerrard's side do triumph, the Hoops need just one point from their last three games to secure the championship.
After a heart-felt rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone to round off the pre-match tributes to McNeill, Celtic started well but were unable to carve out any clear-cut chances.
Kilmarnock were not content to just sit back and soak up the pressure though and had already threatened before their best chance of the match arrived on 18 minutes.
A swift counter-attack ended with Burke receiving the ball on the edge of the box, he wriggled past Kristoffer Ajer and after a fortunate ricochet, the ball fell perfectly for him 10 yards out. However, with just Scott Bain to beat, Burke telegraphed his shot and the goalkeeper got down to save.
Liam Millar, on loan from Liverpool, was also causing problems down the Killie left but it was an error from Ajer that led to the next chance for the visitors. The Celtic centre-back was dispossessed, Eamonn Brophy raced clear but hesitated on the edge of the box, allowing Ajer to get back and block the shot.
Celtic improved as the half wore on but it was not until the second period that they really began to assert themselves.
Celtic: Bain (7), Lustig (6), Simunovic (8), Ajer (6), Izaguirre (7), Brown (7), McGregor (7), Rogic (7), Forrest (6), Sinclair (7), Edouard (7).
Subs: Hayes (N/A), Ntcham (N/A)
Kilmarnock: Bachmann (7), O’Donnell (7), Bruce (7), Dicker (7), Taylor (6), Burke (7), Tshibola (6), Power (7), Miller (7), McAleny (7), Brophy (7).
Subs: McKenzie (N/A), Boyd (N/A), Ndjoli (N/A)
Man of the match: Jozo Simunovic
Burke had a dipping effort tipped over the bar by Bain but as the hour mark approached, Celtic turned up the pressure.
Odsonne Edouard curled a shot just wide, Callum McGregor was denied by a smart save from Daniel Bachmann and Tomas Rogic tried to square for Edouard when one-on-one with the goalkeeper before the goal eventually arrived.
Celtic played a corner short before McGregor drifted a cross to the far post where Simunovic was waiting and nodded the ball into the corner of the net.
That proved to be enough for Celtic, Edouard came close to adding a second with another curler while Kilmarnock battled for an equaliser without managing to create another chance of note and Neil Lennon's side will now be keeping a close eye on events at Ibrox on Sunday afternoon.