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Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Celtic 3-0 Kilmarnock

By Keir Murray

Cillian Sheridan fires in Celtic's second goal of the evening
Cillian Sheridan fires in Celtic's second goal of the evening

Celtic moved four points clear at the top of the table with a decisive win at home to Kilmarnock.

Cillian Sheridan was the toast of the home support in 18 minutes when he clipped a low shot past Allan Combe.

The Irishman doubled his side's advantage with 15 minutes remaining when Combe spilled Massimo Donati's shot and he scored from close range.

Shunsuke Nakamura scored Celtic's third, working a neat one-two with Scott Brown and hammering home.

The first half was a comfortable affair for Celtic. Shaun Maloney had a couple of early efforts at Combe's goal and Nakamura, returning from injury, had a few opportunities to score a trademark free-kick, but could not find the back of the net.

Celtic's opening goal was created and finished by Sheridan.

He flicked Mark Brown's long kick-out on to the feet of strike partner McDonald, who shielded the ball well and returned the ball to the advancing young forward.

Sheridan raced in on goal, leaving Kilmarnock's Tim Clancy in his wake, and was composed as he dispatched the ball low past Combe at his near post.

Having gone 15 league matches since their last score draw, things did not augur well for Kilmarnock recovering to snatch a point.

Their best chance of the opening period came on the half-hour mark when joint top scorer Mehdi Taouil burst into the inside right channel and unleashed a powerful left-foot shot which Brown was relieved to see whizz past his post.

Donati and Brown's ability to retain possession and take the game to the Ayrshiremen meant that most of the game took place in the visitors' half.

Shunsuke Nakamura scores Celtic's third
Nakamura rounds off the scoring with a powerful shot

Returning from suspension, Manuel Pascali fought manfully to stem the tide but, as is often the fate of teams playing at Celtic Park, Kilmarnock struggled to do anything meaningful with the ball once they broke up Celtic's play.

As the half-time whistle sounded, the only complaint from the home fans was that they had not made more of their possession.

McDonald was first to threaten in the second half, his low shot from the right almost squeezing into the near corner of the net.


Sheridan's decisive second goal, in 75 minutes, was the product of a powerful shot by Donati, which Combe saved but could not hold.

The ball fell kindly for the eager Sheridan, who pounced to lash the ball into the net from close range for his third league goal.

Nakamura guaranteed the points as the match petered out. He worked a one-two with Brown in the inside-left channel and his finish beyond Combe was clinical.

Both sides entered the match with lengthy injury lists. The depth and quality of Celtic's squad went a long way to deciding the result.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:
"We've won nine SPL games in a row and in that time we have had to play Champions League games and Co-operative Insurance Cup games and have had to deal with that.

"So the players can be pleased with themselves. I was pleased with their attitude against Kilmarnock, the stadium was not buzzing and we had to get the crowd on our side.

"There was good enthusiasm although we wasted too many chances which was the only disappointment.

"You are always nervous when it is only 1-0 but once we got the second I knew we were okay."

Kilmarnock manager Jim Jefferies:
"We had injuries and there were two or three players playing for the first time in a long time but they plugged away.

"Celtic had a lot of possession but until the second goal went in, I felt comfortable enough.

"We didn't do enough in terms of attacking them, but we were well organised and if Alan Combe had held the ball they wouldn't have scored their second goal. Alan was hard on himself after the game because he let the ball slip.

"But I said before the game, my priorities lie in the next seven games, four of which are at home."

Celtic: Mark Brown, Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Wilson, Nakamura, Scott Brown, Donati, Maloney (Mizuno 83), Sheridan (Caddis 90), McDonald (Samaras 76).
Subs Not Used: Fox, Robson, O'Dea, Hartley.

Goals: Sheridan 18, 75, Nakamura 84.

Kilmarnock: Combe, Fowler, Wright, Corrigan, Skelton, Simmonds (Cox 70), Bryson (Flannigan 75), Pascali, Clancy, Gibson, Taouil (Russell 58).
Subs Not Used: Harpur, Hay, Murray, Sammon.

Booked: Skelton, Pascali.

Att: 55,347

Ref: M Tumilty

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see also
SPL - as it happened
12 Nov 08 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
12 Nov 08 |  Scottish Premier

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