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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2006, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Kilmarnock 1-4 Celtic
Neil Lennon congratulates Celtic scorer Shunsuke Nakamura
Shunsuke Nakamura broke the deadlock at Rugby Park
Shunsuke Nakamura scored twice as relaxed champions Celtic inflicted a clinical defeat on Kilmarnock.

Nakamura gave Celtic a great start, curling home a superb free-kick then Killie's Steven Naismith had a goal harshly ruled out for offside.

Naismith also missed two great chances before Celtic's John Hartson scored following a Shaun Maloney cross.

Nakamura pounced on a backheel from Dion Dublin, who then converted from 12 yards, before Colin Nish's consolation.

Kilmarnock had been unchanged from the midweek defeat by Hibernian, but their hopes of leapfrogging the Edinburgh side into fourth spot suffered a blow after just eight minutes.

Nakamura was brought down 22 yards from goal by Naismith and the Japanese playmaker sent a left-footed shot over the wall and inside the near post beyond Combe's left hand.

David Marshall was given a rare starting place for Celtic, along with Stan Varga and Aiden McGeady, in place of the injured Artur Boruc.

And the young goalkeeper was called into action to block Nish's effort on the turn from eight yards.

But that was a rare moment of danger as McGeady, Nakamura, Maloney and Paul Telfer took turns to show moments of trickery.

Celtic should have been made to pay just before the break for their showboating following their midweek title triumph.

Gary Wales took a quick free-kick that sent Naismith clear on goal, but the striker was pulled up for offside after slipping the ball into the corner of the net.

Replays suggested that Naismith was several yards onside, leaving manager Jim Jefferies seething as the half-time whistle blew.

Kilmarnock appeared to be fired up by a sense of injustice as the second half began.

Naismith beat Marshall to a long ball to the edge of the box, only for his toe-poke to slip just wide of the far post, and pounced on more hesitation from Stephen McManus but fired wide.

Celtic made Killie pay when Hartson turned the ball home after Maloney's low cross was palmed clear by goalkeeper Alan Combe.

Marshall saved at point-blank range to deny Wales, then Danny Invincibile lofted the ball over the goalkeeper but just wide.

And Nakamura was sent clear for Celtic's third by substitute Dublin, who was then played in by Maloney, before Nish broke clear to fire home for Killie.


Kilmarnock: Combe, Wilson, Hay, Wright, Ford, Fowler, Johnston, Naismith, Invincibile, Wales (Di Giacomo 70), Nish.
Subs Not Used: Smith, Greer, McDonald, Locke, Campbell, Bell. Booked: Johnston.

Goals: Nish 89.

Celtic: Marshall, Telfer, Wilson, Varga, McManus, Lennon (Lawson 85), Petrov (Pearson 66), Nakamura, McGeady, Hartson (Dublin 75), Maloney.
Subs Not Used: McGovern, Thompson, Camara, Wallace.

Booked: Petrov.

Goals: Nakamura 8, Hartson 64, Nakamura 82, Dublin 84.

Att: 10,978

Ref: C Thomson




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