Celtic hold course

 

Celtic - 2 Kilmarnock - 0 Henrik Larsson put his midweek penalty misery behind him as the champions remained on the tails of Rangers with a comfortable victory over Jim Jefferies's men at Parkhead.

The prolific Swede failed to score from the spot on Thursday as Celtic were held 1-1 by Boavista in the semi-final first leg of the UEFA Cup. But he bagged his 38th goal of the campaign to set up yesterday's victory - sealed by Stilian Petrov's goal - to end a worrying run of five matches with just one win.

The triumph saw them stay eight points behind their arch rivals with two games in hand and a game at Ibrox to look forward to.

Martin O'Neill certainly showed that his mind was fixed on retaining the championship as he named an unchanged side from that on show in midweek.

That meant that Neil Lennon stayed in the side after being booed for passing the ball back against the Portuguese outfit, which was alluded to by the manager in the programme.

The home fans responded to O'Neill's outburst by chanting the midfielder's name from the start. His team-mates were also upbeat and Alan Thompson fired just wide from 18 yards with a powerful shot in the eighth minute.

The home side went ahead in the 20th minute courtesy of Larsson. John Hartson controlled Thompson's crossfield pass and centred for the Swede to fire into the net from 17 yards with Marshall well out of his goal.

Celtic should have had a penalty in the 38th minute when Agathe was bundled to the ground by Steve Fulton. But they secured the points in the 73rd minute when after good work from Hartson down the right wing Larsson fed Petrov, who blasted a low shot past the despairing dive of Marshall.

CELTIC: Douglas, Mjallby, Balde, Valgaeren, Agathe (Maloney 84), Lambert, Lennon, Petrov (Smith 84), Thompson, Larsson, Hartson. Subs Not Used: Broto, McNamara, Crainey. Booked: Lennon. Goals: Larsson 20, Petrov 73.

KILMARNOCK: Marshall, Locke, Shields, Innes, Canero, Fowler, Mahood, Fulton, McLaren (Boyd 77), McSwegan, McDonald (McLaughlin 51). Subs Not Used: Stewart, Dindeleux, Hay. Booked: Locke, McDonald, Canero, McSwegan.

Referee: A Freeland.