Scottish Premier League
Kilmarnock 0-6 Celtic

 

 

The irrepressible Charlie Mulgrew salutes the fans as he inspired Celtic to a title-winning victory scoring the first of two goals (above top); while the Hoops squad are in party mood celebrating their success in style (above below)

 

 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor at Rugby Park 


Charlie Mulgrew was the architect of Kilmarnock's downfall as Celtic clinched the Scottish Premier League title in style with a 6-0 demilition.
 

Defender Mulgrew scored two goals and set up two more as Neil Lennon's side, needing only a point to win the league title, put the result beyond doubt by half-time at Rugby Park leading 4-0 at the interval. The left-back, who recently earned a first international call-up with Scotland, headed in after eight minutes, Glenn Loovens nodded in nine minutes later, Mulgrew fired the 35th-minute third and Gary Hooper volleyed in on 45 minutes. Joe Ledley chipped in after 88 minutes and Hooper shot home two minutes later to complete a famous rout for the Hoops.

Celtic made three changes to the side which beat St Johnstone last Sunday with Matthews, Kelvin Wilson and Ki among those recalled. Winger James Forrest remained out with an ankle injury. Cha Du-Ri was back on the bench after suspension although Victor Wanyama remained banned after his red card in the Old Firm Ibrox defeat a fortnight ago.

Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels was sweating on the fitness of striker Paul Heffernan, who resumed training only on Thursday after a thigh injury, but placed him among the substitutes. David Silva, Manuel Pascali and Zdenek Kroca headed the list of six injury absentees for Killie.

Lennon's first title in his second full season as manager- and Celtic's first in four years since Gordon Strachan was in charge- comes after they came from fifteen points behind to overhaul holders Rangers, who began to stumble even before being docked ten points by the Scottish Premier League for going into administration in February.

For Kilmarnock, who lost 5-1 at home to the Ibrox side on the final day of last season, it meant once again they played the role of the whipping boys at a Scottish Premier League title party.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

This was Celtic's first victory in four matches away from Celtic Park after a 1-1 draw at Aberdeen, League Cup final defeat and 3-2 loss at Rangers.

 

Having upset the odds to beat Celtic in last month's Scottish Communities League Cup final, the hosts would have had ambitions to repeat the trick here - and both sides began in determined mood, with players flying into the tackles - but it was Celtic who had soon muscled their way in front.

Ki Sung-Yueng's corner found Mulgrew storming unmarked into the six-yard box and the defender powered his near-post header down and over the line after eight minutes.

And thoughts of an upset were quickly dispelled as Loovens gave Celtic the second goal that put them firmly in command.

Mulgrew, playing at left-back, found himself on the right wing and his inswinging cross to the back post was met powerfully by the head of the Dutchman, who had escaped the attentions of Mahamadou Sissoko.

If it was not quite the three goals in seven minutes that put Rangers on easy street last season, but Celtic - for whom Adam Matthews, Kelvin Wilson and Ki Sung-Yueng started in place of Mikael Lustig, Thomas Rogne and Anthony Stokes - were nevertheless getting the job done five games before the end of the season.

Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell had been unable to match his heroics from Hampden but was called upon to save on the line from another Mulgrew header before superbly punching over a fine, curling Ki free-kick.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Neil Lennon won five SPL titles as a Celtic player between 2000 and 2007- he made 213 appearances for the Glasgow side, scoring three goals.

 

However, Bell was left exposed again when Mulgrew turned inside James Fowler and curled a low drive into the far corner of the net from just inside the penalty box.

Bell produced a desperate save with his legs to deny a low drive from Georgios Samaras before cup final goal hero Dieter van Tornhout had Kilmarnock's first effort on goal with a looping header over the bar two minutes before the break.

There was still time before the interval for Hooper to blast a superb volley into the roof of the net from an acute angle after being found by Mulgrew's curling cross to the back post.

Two half-time substitutions seemed to revive Kilmarnock and they were first to threaten after the re-start, with Liam Kelly - making his first start since the death of his father after the League Cup final win - blasting over, before Forster had to push clear a low Gary Harkins cross.

Harkins sent a drive into the side-netting and Fowler fired over then shot straight at Forster as Kilmarnock threatened to reduce the arrears.

Celtic, appearing to go through the motions having secured the win that takes them 21 points clear of reigning champions Rangers, nevertheless finished with a flourish.

Ledley broke through to flick over Bell before Hooper fired past the goalkeeper from 18 yards to inflict Kilmarnock's heaviest-ever home defeat in their SPL history. Kilmarnock, however, remain in seventh place after the defeat and their first fixture since the split between the top six and bottom six.



ANALYSIS
Adam Higgins
The Football Site- Chief Football Editor


"Celtic have deservedly won the Scottish Premier League which we have known for many weeks now. It has taken them a while to actually confirm in mathematically but they have and congratulations to them for their success. The fans have been waiting four years for the moment of stealing the trophy back from Rangers so to do it after this length of time a sweet feeling. With Rangers' demise, this could be the stepping stone for the Hoops to go on and dominate Scottish football and the SPL title for many years. Ever since they took over at the top of the table in December, they looked hard to catch and since the Old Firm derby at the end of that month, their form has been impeccable. They absolutely thumped Kilmarnock clearing them off the floor sweeping them aside in brutal fashion. With the mood Celtic looked in early on, it was a case of how many as soon as number one went in. Charlie Mulgrew was outstanding in all areas of his game."

 

 


Saturday 7th April 2012

Scottish Premier League

Rugby Park

 

Kilmarnock 0-6 Celtic                             KO 12pm             (HT 0-4)

                    Mulgrew 8, 35
                    Loovens 17
                    Hooper 45, 90
                    Ledley 88


(Celtic are crowned SPL champions 2011/12)

 

Kilmarnock:  1 Bell- 6/10, 88 Sissoko- 5.5/10, 4 Fowler (C)- 6/10, 6 Nelson- 6.5/10, 19 Gordon- 6/10, 11 Harkins- 6/10, 8 Kelly- 6.5/10, 18 Johnson- 5.5/10 (Barbour 47- 5/10), 3 Hay- 5.5/10 (Dayton 45- 6/10), 20 Shiels- 6.5/10, 27 Van Tornhout- 6/10 (Heffernan 62- 4.5/10).

Subs not used:  17 Letheren, 26 Pursehouse, 22 Racchi, 33 Kennedy

Booked:      Kelly (27), Shiels (51), Sissoko (55)

 

Celtic:  1 Forster- 7/10, 2 Matthews- 7.5/10, 6 K Wilson- 8/10, 22 Loovens- 8.5/10, 21 Mulgrew- 9.5/10 (Blackman 76- 2.5/10), 8 Brown (C)- 6.5/10 (Twardzik 48- 5.5/10), 16 Ledley- 8.5/10, 18 Ki Sung-Yeung- 8/10, 15 Commons- 7/10, 9 Samaras- 7/10 (Stokes 69- 3.5/10), 88 Hooper- 8/10.

Subs not used:  24 Zaluska, 11 Cha-Du Ri, 40 Ibrahim, 17 Brozek 

Booked:      Ledley (84)

 

My Man of the Match:     Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic)- Rating 9.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:      Mahamadou Sissoko (Kilmarnock)- Rating 5.5/10

 

 

Referee: Alan Muir (Scotland)- 9.5/10
Attendance: 15,926

 

 

Match Facts

Possession: Kilmarnock- 45%            Celtic- 55%

Shots: Kilmarnock- 4                Celtic- 12

Shots on target: Kilmarnock- 2             Celtic- 9

Shots off target: Kilmarnock- 2              Celtic- 3

Corners: Kilmarnock- 2                  Celtic- 8

Fouls: Kilmarnock- 9                 Celtic- 9

Offside: Kilmarnock- 0                 Celtic- 2

Assists: Kilmarnock- None              Celtic- Ki, Mulgrew (2), Stokes, Commons

 

 


Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels

"I am disappointed with the result although I cannot question the attitude and commitment of the lads which was first class as normal. We had a lot of players out injured today- players who can make a difference in the run-in which perhaps showed in the tiredness of the players in particular in the second half. We had the chance to repeat the heroics of the League Cup final and stop them winning the title. It is the second season running now that we have had the opportunity against the Old Firm to put in a performance to stop them from clinching the SPL crown here and we have took a battering on both occasions. To come in 4-0 down at half-time gives us not one mountain to climb but four thousand mountains to climb. We were 3-0 up here aganst Celtic last October and threw that lead away. I and the players are very disheartened to lose this game especially after the St Mirren game last weekend where we were winning and eventually lost. Charlie Mulgrew was the best player on the pitch today and we couldn't stop him. We have to congratulate Celtic though on a title they have deserved this season and I am pleased for Neil (Lennon) and the lads."

 

 


Celtic manager Neil Lennon

"I cannot be more proud of the players. We could have won it two weeks ago but we have finally sealed it. It was good of our players to come into the game with the mindset of winning the match rather than trying to get the draw that we needed. It shows the players had the game in mind and not the prize at the end of it. We have got our rewards for the season's efforts. It's the best day of my professional life and career- it is better winning the title as a manager than a player I feel. It is the pinnacle of my football career at Celtic. The players deserve to win it- we have been the best team in Scotland by far and we have finished it the right way. It has been a long time coming with two years to wait. I've been here twelve years and they've thrown everything at me in that time. It's an important day in the club's history for sure. But I couldn't have done this without the co-operation of the fans, players, the club, my backroom staff and family. I follow in the footsteps of (former managers) Martin O'Neill and Gordon Strachan who had a great influence on my playing career and who I have spoken with on many occasions in the past to gain advice that has been invaluable. Hopefully this is just the beginning for us. Our thanks to Kilmarnock for the arrangements in the stadium today and their season ticket holders who kindly accomodated our fans today. Our thoughts remain with Liam (Kelly) and his family also."

Click here to hear and read the thoughts of Hoops boss Neil Lennon after his side's title win

Click here for the thoughts of Celtic assistant manager Alan Thompson

Celtic captain Scott Brown: Title win is for supporters

Man of the match Mulgrew talks with ESPN's Darrell Currie after final whistle

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