Killie fight back from goal down to beat Celtic at Rugby Park

Celtic fall to their first league defeat, and second loss at Rugby Park, this season.

Killie fight back from goal down to beat Celtic at Rugby Park SNS Group

Kilmarnock produced an impressive second-half fight-back to beat Celtic for the second time this season at Rugby Park.

It was the old cliché of a game of two halves in Ayrshire with the visitors dominating proceedings in the first 45 and Killie taking the game to the league leaders in the second.

The champions are now five points ahead of Rangers, who also have a game in hand, at the top of the Premiership following the weekend’s action on the top flight.

Brendan Rodgers again gave Hyeongyu Oh the nod to start up front ahead of Kyogo following the South Korean’s midweek double against Hibs with Mikey Johnstone also starting his second consecutive game.

They were without Cameron Carter-Vickers though and he was replaced in defence by Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips with Maik Nawrocki returning to the squad to take a place on the bench.

Matt O’Riley continued his good early form as he scored his ninth goal of the season in a dominant first 45 minutes for the league leaders.

Killie struck back in the second as Phillips, who had another unconvincing performance, turned the ball past Joe Hart an into his own net.

Matty Kennedy then scored what proved to be the winner with two minutes remaining as they completed the comeback.

It is the second time this season that Killie have defeated Celtic at Rugby Park after also knocking them out of the League Cup earlier in the season.

It is their first double over the Hoops since the 1960s in the season when Kilmarnock last won the league title in 1965.

They have now produced three wins from three games against the Old Firm this season.

Celtic started with intent as they looked to take the game to Kilmarnock right from kick-off and O’Riley came close to breaking the deadlock following good play from Tomoko Iwata, but Will Dennis made a good save at his near post.

Mikey Johnstone and Oh also had good opportunities early doors as Dennis was kept busy in the opening stages.

Luis Palma then struck the post as the opening started to look inevitable for the Hoops who were peppering the box with a series of shots and crosses.

But the home side also created chances and they came inches away from getting the opener against the run of play when a close range effort from Danny Armstrong hit the inside of the post after a good cross from Matty Kennedy.

Celtic took the lead around a minute later when the broke up the field and Callum McGregor took three defenders out of the game with a dummy and feint before forcing a save from Dennis and O’Riley smashed home the rebound to make it 1-0 with just over half an hour played.

Alistair Johnston was on hand to stop what looked like a certain equaliser five minutes later when he slid in to Corrie Nbada’s shot with his back just before it crossed the line.

It remained 1-0 going into the break and despite Celtic dominating possession they were let off with a couple of gilt edge chances for the home side and would know they had to be wary of Kilmarnock’s attacking threat in the second-half.

And it was Derek McInnes’ men that came out the traps the quickest for the second half as they piled pressure on the Celtic box with a series of crosses and long throws that the Hoops defence struggled to deal with convincingly.

Nbada forced a save from Joe Hart with a close-range effort and claims of a handball were waved away by the ref after a VAR check.

Celtic struggled to get going in the second-half with Killie dominating much of the ball in the opening stages but O’Riley came close to doubling the lead with a shot just wide of the post as they gradually got themselves back into it.

But Kilmarnock grabbed a well deserved equaliser with 15 minutes to go when Phillips turned a cross into his own net to make it 1-1.

Rather than sit back and hold on for the point, Killie continued to take the game to Celtic and Kennedy struck with two minutes remaining to make it 2-1 and complete the fight-back.

Kilmarnock now leapfrog Hearts into fifth in the Premiership.

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