SPL

Kilmarnock stun Celtic with two late goals

By Sports Desk December 10, 2023

Matty Kennedy scored a late winner as Kilmarnock inflicted a second defeat on Celtic this season.

The Hoops started in dominant fashion in Ayrshire as they looked to avenge their Viaplay Cup loss and Matt O’Riley gave them a 33rd-minute lead with his ninth goal of the season from close range.

However, Killie came very close either side of the goal and they were eventually rewarded for their improvement when Nat Phillips turned Brad Lyons’ cross into his own net in the 75th minute.

Danny Armstrong then slipped Kennedy through as Killie counter-attacked down the right-hand side and the winger’s effort went in off Joe Hart.

Brendan Rodgers had suffered his first domestic cup defeat as Celtic manager at Rugby Park in August and the latest loss on the artificial surface was the first cinch Premiership defeat of his second spell in charge. It leaves Celtic five points ahead of Rangers but with one more game played.

Phillips started after Cameron Carter-Vickers failed to shake off a hamstring concern, but Rodgers otherwise retained the team that began Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Hibernian. That meant starts for Tomoki Iwata, Mikey Johnston and Oh Hyeon-gyu.

Rodgers had told Johnston he had to “do more” following the midweek game. Johnston had a hand in the first goal and could have had an assist but for Oh’s poor finishing, however the winger’s delivery was erratic during his 70 minutes on the park.

Lyons and Liam Donnelly brushed off knocks to start for Killie, who were pinned into their defensive third for the first 10 minutes. O’Riley had two shots stopped, Callum McGregor’s low cross just evaded Johnston and Oh had a header saved.

Celtic continued to create chances. Oh volleyed over after Liam Scales’ ball over the top and the South Korean should have converted Johnston’s low cross before Luis Palma hit the post from a tight angle.

Killie should also have scored from their first chance. Lyons’ cross found Armstrong at the back post but the winger hit the junction of post and bar from six yards.

Celtic were ahead within a minute. McGregor took three players out the game when he turned on to his right foot 20 yards out and forced Will Dennis down to his left with a shot. The goalkeeper could only parry and O’Riley was on hand to convert the rebound.

The action continued as Celtic survived a double chance moments later. Hart got down well to deny Armstrong and Alistair Johnston threw himself at Corrie Ndaba’s follow-up to block what looked a certain goal.

The opening stages of the second half were as one-sided as the first but this time in the home team’s favour. Hart denied Ndaba and Robbie Deas headed just wide amid sustained aerial pressure before the Celtic goalkeeper got down to clutch Armstrong’s curling effort.

O’Riley and Palma threatened after Celtic counter-attacks as the incessant rain got heavier and Kilmarnock appeared to have lost their cutting edge but they took a major lift from the equaliser.

Stuart Findlay had an effort saved after another ball into the box and substitute Marley Watkins scooped just over from a better chance, before Kennedy found the net in the 87th minute.

Celtic brought on Kyogo Furuhashi and Dennis pulled off an excellent stop from the Japan striker 90 seconds after Kennedy’s goal.

The home fans howled with derision when the fourth official signalled there would be eight minutes of stoppage time but Killie comfortably saw them out.

Related items

  • 'Stranger things have happened' says Scotland's Morgan on potential Germany upset 'Stranger things have happened' says Scotland's Morgan on potential Germany upset

    Lewis Morgan believes Scotland can surprise Germany ahead of their Euro 2024 opener against the hosts this Friday. 

    Steve Clarke's side travel to Munich in search of their first victory over their opponents since 1999, having failed to beat Die Mannschaft in their previous four encounters.

    The New York Red Bulls winger was a late arrival in Scotland's provisional squad after it was announced Ben Doak had to withdraw through injury, and made it into the travelling group of 26. 

    Morgan ended his six-year absence from the international stage with a substitute appearance in a 2-2 draw against Finland at Hampden Park last week to earn his third cap for his country, 2,193 days since his last. 

    The 27-year-old has scored nine goals in 16 MLS appearances so far this season in the Eastern Conference, and believes his side have every chance of starting their Group A campaign with a victory. 

    "Absolutely, stranger things have happened in football," Morgan said about the possibility of Scotland upsetting the host nation.

    "We've got a really, really talented squad here, a good group of players playing at the highest level in world football.

    "There's no reason why we can't go there and get something, but we can only do that if we give the best version of ourselves and stick to the game plan."

    Following Friday's fixture against Germany, the Scots will face Switzerland before concluding their group campaign in Stuttgart against Hungary, with the hopes of reaching the knockout stages of an international competition for the first time in their history. 

  • Berhalter: USA focusing on performance rather than result against Brazil Berhalter: USA focusing on performance rather than result against Brazil

    United States head coach Gregg Berhalter has said he will be prioritising player performance and not a result ahead of his side's friendly fixture against Brazil. 

    Berhalter watched on as the USA began their Copa America preparations with a 5-1 defeat to Colombia in Maryland, their heaviest defeat since 2016. 

    Los Cafeteros scored three times in 11 minutes during the second half, reawakening scepticism among supporters about the ability of the squad to compete against the top sides in international football. 

    But ahead of their meeting with the five-time World Cup winners, Berhalter insisted that his team will not change course and continue preparations as planned for the 48th edition of the tournament. 

    "We want to gain information on both Brazil and our own players, so we have to be brave and we have to continue with our plan," said Berhalter. 

    "Obviously a lot of pressure from the outside after a 5-1 defeat at home but for us, again, it's about preparing this group for Copa America."

    The USA begin their Group C campaign against Bolivia, who won the tournament in 1963, before facing Panama and Uruguay in the hopes of replicating their semi-final run in the competition in 2016. 

    Berhalter said that he and his coaching staff will be focused more on performance than the result against the Selecao Canarinha in Florida on Wednesday, having failed to beat their opponents since 1998, losing by an aggregate scoreline of 8-28. 

    "If we look after the game and we see 11 guys, 16 guys, performing at an eight out of 10 level, that will be enough," he said. 

    "We know Brazil's a very good team but for us it's about how do we perform at our highest level against teams like this."

  • St Kitts, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Dom Rep secure first WCQ victories St Kitts, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Dom Rep secure first WCQ victories

    St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic registered a maiden win in their respective Concacaf World Cup Qualifying campaign, as they brought the curtains down on second round action, on Tuesday.

    Five players scored twice for their respective teams, including Guyana’s Deon Moore, Dominican Republic’s Rafael Mata and Dorny Romero, and Puerto Rico’s Jeremy de Leon and Wilfredo Rivera.

    St Lucia vs Aruba

    St Lucia and Aruba were the only teams that failed to separate themselves, as they played out a 2-2 scoreline in Group C at Wildey Turf in Bridgetown, Barbados.

    Aruba got the perfect start they desired, when Walter Bennett headed home from close range to gift them a 22nd-minute lead, before Isai Marselia added a second from the penalty spot in the 43rd minute.

    However, Ridel Stanislas (45+2) cut the deficit for St Lucia with a tidy finish from deep inside the 18-yard box, to make it 2-1 at the break.

    Peter Pearson then pulled St Lucia level in the 66th minute to secure a share of the spoils.

    With this, their first point of the campaign, St Lucia and Aruba occupy third and fourth positions in the group behind Curaçao and Haiti, on six points each, heading into the break.

    St Kitts and Nevis vs Bahamas

    St Kitts and Nevis edged Bahamas, 1-0, in Group B at Warner Park in Basseterre.

    Ethan Bristow found the all-important goal in the 12th minute when he pounced on a rebound.

    With the win, The Sugar Boyz inched up to third in the group, behind Costa Rica (six points) and Trinidad and Tobago (four points).

    Guyana vs Belize

    Guyana proved too strong for Belize with a 3-1 victory in Group D action at Wildey Turf in Bridgetown, Barbados.

    After playing out a goalless first half, Deon Moore finished off an Omari Glasgow pass in the 66th minute to put Guyana ahead.

    The Golden Jaguars doubled the lead a minute later courtesy of Liam Gordon’s dazzling solo effort which he finished off with a close range effort.

    Moore completed his brace in the 71st with a flick of the ball inside the box to redirect Nathan Moriah-Welsh’s pass.

    However, Carlos Bernardez pulled one back for Belize in the 88th, as he rose above defenders to head home Jahryl Smith’s weighted cross.

    The win moved the Golden Jaguars up to third place in the group, behind Nicaragua and Panama, on six points each.