Celtic cruise past Kilmarnock to close gap on Aberdeen

Celtic's Virgil Van Dijk (right) and Kilmarnock's Ross Barbour during the Scottish Premiership match at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Celtic's Virgil Van Dijk (right) and Kilmarnock's Ross Barbour during the Scottish Premiership match at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock

Celtic closed the gap on Scottish Premiership leaders Aberdeen to one point with a convincing 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The returning Kris Commons hit the bar twice in the first-half before left-back Emilio Izaguirre drove the dominant visitors ahead in the 36th minute.

Striker Stefan Scepovic, also handed a rare start by boss Ronny Deila, made it 2-0 from close range in the 71st minute but that goal did not come close to reflecting the grip the champions had on a one-sided affair.

While having a game in hand over the Dons, Deila takes his side off to a winter break in Gran Canaria on Tuesday - they will play PSV Eindhoven and Sparta Prague - with next week’s game against St Johnstone cancelled.

However, following such an impressive victory in Ayrshire they will return to resume the title battle full of confidence.

Deila, though, had clearly lost patience with on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti who had failed to hit the net in five appearances, the Swede’s place taken by Scepovic who had only scored three times since his £2.3million move from Sporting Gijon in the summer.

Commons and Liam Henderson were also brought in as Leigh Griffiths dropped to the bench alongside Guidetti with Anthony Stokes out injured.

Killie midfielder Craig Slater was suspended following his red card against St Mirren on New Year’s Day and Lee Miller was also missing with Jamie Hamill and Chris Johnston handed starting places.

Celtic had reportedly been refused permission to train on Killie’s artificial pitch ahead of the match, however, the visitors did not appear to have any problems in adapting to the surface.