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Celtic vs Kilmarnock. Scottish Premiership.

Celtic Park.

Celtic 2

  • M Elyounoussi (57th minute)
  • S Duffy (70th minute)

Kilmarnock 0

    Celtic 2-0 Kilmarnock: Neil Lennon boosted by Scottish Premiership win but more Parkhead protests

    Mohamed Elyounoussi's deflected strike and Shane Duffy header seal morale-boosting win; Fan protest banners target Celtic board ahead of kick-off; Hoops remain 13 points behind Rangers

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    Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Kilmarnock

    Celtic lifted some pressure off Neil Lennon with a 2-0 Scottish Premiership win over Kilmarnock but fans kept the heat on the club's board.

    Rangers had put the pressure on the champions with a 2-1 lunchtime win at Dundee United and Lennon's stuttering side looked set to slip further behind their fierce rivals as they struggled for the breakthrough in a goalless first half.

    But they stepped up the tempo after the break and Mohamed Elyounoussi's deflected drive in the 57th minute finally put them ahead.

    Shane Duffy headed in a second in the 70th minute from a David Turnbull corner as Lennon's side sealed back-to-back wins for the first time since October to leapfrog Hibernian into second place.

    They remain 13 points behind Rangers with two games in hand but while the result will come as a welcome one ahead of next Sunday's Scottish Cup final against Hearts, tension remains between some supporters and the board, with banners draped outside the ground ahead of kick-off.

    Pre-Match Protest during a Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Kilmarnock at Celtic Park, on December 13
    Image: Protest banners were draped outside Parkhead
    Fans protest at Celtic Park ahead of game with Kilmarnock
    Image: Fans protest at Celtic Park ahead of game with Kilmarnock

    On the pitch, Lennon kept the faith with goalkeeper Conor Hazard and midfielders Turnbull and Ismaila Soro, whom he brought in for the morale-boosting Europa League dead-rubber win over Lille at Parkhead on Thursday night.

    Striker Odsonne Edouard and left-back Greg Taylor came in for Patryk Klimala and Diego Laxalt respectively.

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    Stuart Findlay returned to the Kilmarnock defence after suspension, replacing banned Clevid Dikamona and Rory McKenzie took over from striker Eamonn Brophy.

    Celtic came close to getting the opener in the ninth minute when defender Christopher Jullien got on the end of an inviting free-kick from Turnbull but keeper Danny Rogers tipped the header over the bar for a corner which the Ayrshire men defended.

    There was little more goalmouth action of note until Turnbull lifted a shot over the bar in the 20th minute after exchanging passes with Edouard and driving into the Kilmarnock box.

    Four minutes later there was a Celtic penalty claim when Rogers came out to thwart Taylor on the byline but referee Don Robertson awarded a goal-kick.

    Edouard drove wide from 12 yards after being set up by Turnbull but Celtic could not get into top gear, hampered by disciplined opponents.

    Rogers beat away a drive from Turnbull just before the break and Lennon's side stepped it up after the interval.

    The Killie keeper did well to parry away a powerful drive from Jeremie Frimpong before clawing away a header from Edouard and then saving a header from Duffy.

    However, Celtic's goal eventually came when Elyounoussi drifted in from the right and fired in a low drive which took a deflection and ended up behind Rogers.

    Killie's resistance was broken and they fell further behind when Duffy rose high to head in a Turnbull corner.

    Kilmarnock briefly tried to battle back and Hazard made a good save from Nicke Kabamba following a McKenzie corner but amid a flurry of changes, Celtic closed the game out.

    Lennon: Onto cup final - we want to win it

    Lennon saluted Duffy after the game, as well as admitting the players who had come in had given him food for thought ahead the Hampden Park cup showdown where the champions have a chance to win an unprecedented quadruple domestic treble.

    The Celtic boss said: "Well they have given me options. But I'd like to think about the boys who got us there as well. We can't just write them off, but the lads who have come in have done a terrific job.

    "Obviously we will do a lot of work on Hearts, who are really a Premiership team with the quality that they've got.

    "I will not take it for granted, but we want to win it."

    On Duffy, who returned against Lille after being dropped, Lennon said: "I'm delighted for him. He's had a lot of criticism since he came here and its probably something he is not used to - the level of it and the volume of it.

    "So we gave him a little bit of time out to try to adapt to things, and he has come back in and done really well.

    "The club means a lot to him. He has had a difficult time off the field, and this was sort of a fresh start for him, and it probably didn't pan out for him the way he had envisaged."

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