BRENDAN RODGERS winced as Celtic carelessly discarded two points in the 1-1 deadlock with Kilmarnock at Parkhead.

The stoppage-time goal from David Watson nullified Kyogo Furuhashi’s slick header in the first-half that looked to have set up the champions for a much-needed morale-boosting triumph.

The Hoops boss has seen his side win two of their last four league games by the odd goal against Ross County in Glasgow and Hibs in Edinburgh while also dropping two points in the stalemate against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The unconvincing victories and unacceptable overall performances have opened the door for Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side to go top of the table by two points if they overcome St Johnstone in Perth in their noon kick-off today.

A MAN ALONE…Brendan Rodgers stands on the touchline with the Celtic fans watching the team toil against Killie.

If they are successful against Craig Levein’s outfit, it will see Celtic drop off the Premiership pinnacle for the first time since February 2 2022 when they thrashed the Govan club, then managed by Giovanni van Bronckhorst, 3-0 at a rocking Parkhead to edge into pole position by one point.

The hosts stepped onto title thin ice with their fairly inept display against a Killie team who beat them 2-1 in the Premiership in December and knocked them out of the League Cup at the same venue in August.

As the angry supporters vented their frustration at another insipid showing from their faltering favourites, Rodgers said: “Performance levels were nowhere near what we would want.

“It looked like we could get away with it and see the game through 1-0 – a good result and poor performance. But in the end it was neither.

“So, we’re very disappointed. I’m disappointed for the supporters – it was a disappointing day for them and I take responsibility for that.

“I can totally get the reaction of the supporters. Even at 1-0, they won’t have been happy with that performance.

“To draw 1-1, I can totally get it – we’ll be doing everything we possibly can to get the team into a better place for a positive result.

“I like a challenge. I have had to fight all my career and this is another great challenge.”

IN WITH A SHOUT…Brendan Rodgers encourages his players.

Defensive deficiencies were exposed again as the clock ticked down and the back lot showed a considerable lack of composure to get the game over the line.

Alexandro Bernabei, who had taken over from Greg Taylor just after the hour mark, displayed an alarming lack of awareness as Fraser Murray clipped in a cross from the left two minutes into added-on time.

The Argentinian left-back allowed Watston to drift off him at the back post and bury a header low past the helpless Joe Hart for the goal that could prove so costly to Celtic at the end of the campaign.

Rodgers was far from satisfied and, speaking to the Scottish Sun on Sunday, continued: “It’s the nature of how we conceded – it’s not the first time we’ve been in front and not taken chances to extend the lead and we’ve given ourselves anxiety and the opposition something to hang onto.

“When you do that a number of times it will disappoint.

“But it’s not a one off. It’s happened too many times.

“In the metrics and analysis of the team, the defence is the one area where there has been a drop. But we have been missing key players in those positions.”

The Irishman added: “We have to be harder to beat, more aggressive and it’s happened too many times.

“There needs to be greater hunger to stop the goal and it’s likewise in the offensive state – you have to have that aggression and directness.

“We ended up sideways and backwards, but you have to have that authority in the game to play forward.”


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