Matt O'Riley: Celtic got bullied by Kilmarnock in Premiership defeat

A strong second half saw Kilmarnock shock the champions.

Matt O’Riley: Celtic got bullied by Kilmarnock in Premiership defeat SNS Group

Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley admitted they got “bullied” by Kilmarnock in the second half of their latest defeat at Rugby Park.

O’Riley netted his ninth goal of the season as Celtic dominated the first half but Killie got on top after the break and Matty Kennedy scored a late winner after a Nat Phillips own goal.

The 2-1 loss was Celtic’s first defeat of the cinch Premiership season and saw their lead over Rangers reduced to five points over the weekend, with the champions having played a game more.

“We started the game really well and could have put the game to bed in the first half,” O’Riley said.

“I had a chance which I should score in the second half as well and at that point you can kill the game but, irrespective of that, second half I think we kind of got bullied a bit as well just in terms of most duels they were winning.

“At the same time, we were very sloppy on the ball and probably weren’t showing enough courage just to want the ball, get on the ball and take responsibility.

“We went long a lot and they have big players who are good in the air, they like to fight for second balls, third balls and we played into their hands second half.

“Because of that, I’m not surprised the game went like it did in the second half.”

The Denmark international added: “They just came out more aggressively in the second half and we weren’t as prepared as we should have been for that sort of pressure.

“That’s what I noticed on the pitch as the only difference. I don’t think it was a lack of mentality – well it was at times with the duels and stuff – but overall I think it was more of a calmness and composure kind of thing where, if we do that, we would be fine.”

Killie celebrated their first double over the Hoops since their title-winning season of 1964-65.

Kennedy felt their performance was even better than their Viaplay Cup win over Celtic in August.

“The manager tried to put across to us before the game that we had beaten them before and they don’t like coming here and we are entitled to go and try and win the game and we have done that,” the former St Johnstone and Aberdeen winger said.

“Maybe the last half-an-hour, I thought we looked like the team who were taking the game to them. I thought we were the ones who looked like we would go on and win the game. We created chances and drove forward.

“They had possession but they didn’t do too much with it. It’s not like we didn’t deserve the win. It’s not like we have come here and just nicked a goal.

“I think we played better than we did the last time when we beat them. I think we deserved it more than we did last time, because the last time, we just defended a lot.”

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