Kilmarnock 0-2 Celtic: James Forrest sets Hoops on way to victory
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 20/08/17 6:46pm
Goals from James Forrest and Callum McGregor gave a much-changed Celtic side a 2-0 Scottish Premiership win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
Boss Brendan Rodgers had made eight changes for the 5-0 home thrashing of Killie in the Betfred Cup earlier in the month and this time he opted for half a dozen.
Although the performance was not as impressive, the Hoops were worth the three points courtesy of a smart finish five minutes before the break by winger Forrest - taking over as main striker from Leigh Griffiths - and a late strike by midfielder McGregor two minutes from time.
Celtic remain unbeaten this season in all competitions they prepare to jet out to Kazakhstan for the second leg of their Champions League play-off against Astana on Tuesday where they will take a surely unassailable 5-0 lead.
Stuart Armstrong, who signed a new two-year contract on Friday, fellow midfielder McGregor, and teenagers Kristoffer Ajer, Calvin Miller, Anthony Ralston and Kundai Benyu all came into the side as winger Forrest led the line.
Celtic dictated the tempo without creating any clear-cut opportunities and Forrest, Tom Rogic and Benyu all had efforts from distance which left Killie keeper Jamie MacDonald untroubled.
There were occasional moments of panic in both penalty areas from crosses and corners but the game was drifting quietly towards the break when Celtic struck.
Rogic was the provider as he drove past Adam Frizzell too easily in the Killie penalty area to set up Forrest, whose side-footed shot from eight yards beat MacDonald.
The Scotland international began the second half by firing an angled-drive just over the bar but moments of excitement were few and far between.
New signing Eamonn Brophy replaced skipper Steven Smith on the hour mark to make his debut but there was no discernible change to the pattern of play.
Celtic were relatively subdued but in control and in the 69th minute Miller drove into the Killie box to play a one-two with Armstrong before his toe-poked shot from 10 yards was saved by MacDonald.
Griffiths then replaced Forrest and Nir Bitton came on for Tierney and in the final minutes McCulloch's side began to gamble in search of an equaliser.
But in the 88th minute, Rogic again was the provider as he strode forward before slipping a ball through that eventually broke for McGregor, who slipped it past MacDonald before taking the acclaim of a huge travelling support.