Commons treble fires rampant Celtic

14 March 2014 10:31

Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 24 points after a second half hat-trick from Kris Commons sealed a 3-0 win at Kilmarnock on Friday.

Anthony Stokes had a first minute effort ruled out for offside as Celtic dominated possession but couldn't find a way past a stubborn Killie defence in the first half.

Once again it was left to playmaker Commons to inspire his side and the former Scotland international made the breakthrough for the Hoops with an angled strike in the second half.

Commons netted his second two minutes later as he converted Adam Matthews's pass before he had a 76th minute effort disallowed for offside.

The Hoops forward wasn't to be denied a hat-trick and in the 86th minute he sealed his treble with a long range strike to grab his 26th goal of the season.

Commons's heroics moved Neil Lennon's side to within seven points of their third consecutive Scottish league title.

"In the second half all round I thought it was a sensational performance," Lennon said.

"I'm just thrilled with our performance and it's as good as we've played away from home for a while now.

"Kris got the breakthrough for us and afterwards the football was fantastic."

Kilmarnock boss Allan Johnston added: "We competed for large periods of the game but at half time we spoke about Celtic being really dangerous on the counter-attack and that's what happened for the first two goals.

"We got caught in possession, they broke quickly and punished us."

With Celtic cantering to the championship, Lennon handed 17-year-old Liam Henderson his first ever start for the club while Georgios Samaras, who scored a hat-trick on Celtic's last visit to Rugby Park, was left on the bench.

The Kilmarnock fans were given reason to cheer before kick-off with the announcement that the club had struck a deal with the Bank of Scotland that will clear the club's £9.4 million (11.3m euros, $15.7m) debt.

The agreement also means Michael Johnston will step down as chairman at the end of the season to be replaced by businessman Billy Bowie.

However, that was the only good news of the night for the home fans

In the first minute the Hoops thought they had got off to a perfect start as Stokes poked home from close range but the Celtic striker had strayed offside to collect a Commons flick-on.

A couple of mis-kicks from Charlie Mulgrew and Matthews caused a moment of panic in the Celtic penalty area, but Kris Boyd didn't have room to get a shot away at the far post and was eventually crowded out.

Stefan Johansen then sent a lovely lofted pass to Stokes, who laid the ball off for strike partner Leigh Griffiths but the Scotland international's effort from 20 yards was straight at Craig Samson.

Kilmarnock made it to half-time on level terms but they were having to withstand constant pressure from the Hoops and two goals in two minutes from Commons changed the complexion of the game.

His first came in the 57th minute when Commons played a pass to Griffiths and continued his run to collect the return and fire an angled shot past the helpless Samson.

Killie had barely time to regroup before the Celtic playmaker grabbed his second of the match in the 59th minute.

Commons pinged the ball wide to Matthews on the right of the penalty box and he was in the right place to meet the Welsh full-back's driven cross and slot past Samson.

Commons thought he had scored again in the 76th minute when he converted Emilio Izaguirre's cross but he had strayed offside in his eagerness to grab a third.

He did seal his hat-trick late on when he collected a pass from Mulgrew before turning and unleashing a shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner.

Source: AFP

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