KILMARNOCK 0 CELTIC 5: O’RILEY MASTERCLASS IN CHAMPS’ COMMAND PERFORMANCE

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KILMARNOCK 0 CELTIC 5

CELTIC emphasised why they are champions for the third time in successive season with a command performance at Rugby Park this evening.

The Killie resistence was obliterated as early as the 35th minute with the Hoops coasting to a three-goal lead as they turned on a devastating display that simply shredded their opponents who had beaten Brendan Rodgers’ men twice at the same venue in this campaign.

There was never even the remotest of possibilities they could stage another victory to stall Celtic’s title party.

And the second-half manifested into a masterclass from Matt O’Riley as he showed his ruthless side with two additional strikes, one a full-blooded drive from the edge of the box that almost took the net away.

Derek McInnes’ team were swept aside with an almost nonchalant ease as the visitors went for the jugular right from the kick-off.

NUMBER ONE…Adam Idah fires past Kieran O’Hara.

It was as easy as one, two, three as Scotland’s title kings, who have dominated the domestic scene in 12 of the last 13 seasons, took the lead in the fifth minute.

Adam Idah, chosen ahead of Kyogo Furuhashi on this occasion, played a massive role in the breakthrough goal as he accepted a forward pass before touching it to in-the-mood O’Riley.

The Celtic Player of the Year switched it onto James Forrest who gave it back to the stylish midfielder.

O’Riley whipped a low ball into the box and powerhouse Idah arrived smack on the money to first-time a close-range drive past the exposed Kieran O’Hara.

The Hoops doubled their advantage in the twelfth minute and this time it was Daizen Maeda on target from practically under the crossbar.

NUMBER TWO…Alistair Johnston looks on as Daizen Maeda thumps in his cross.

There was some eye-catching lead-up play involving Forrest and Reo Hatate before Alistair Johnston raced into the box before firing in a low and inviting cross.

The hosts’ back-four were all over the place as Maeda arrived at full pelt to thump the ball into the net.

It was only a matter of time before Celtic added to their total and No.3 duly arrived in the 35th minute and it was the evergreen Forrest who applied the killer touch this time.

Idah was again involved in the build-up before releasing Maeda on the left. The Japanese speedster whipped in a low ball and there was Forrest all on his own to turn the ball past the stunned O’Hara.

Six minutes after the turnaround, O’Riley joined in the goal romp with an awesome drive from 18 yards that fizzed past the keeper high into his top left-hand corner of the net.

NUMBER THREE…James Forrest slots past the Killie keeper from close range.

Hatate had a shot blocked with the ricochet falling to the ever-alert Forrest who picked out his team-mate with a snappy pass.

O’Riley took a couple of touches as he strode purposefully forward before launching an unstoppable effort for No.4.

In the 62nd minute, Rodgers replaced the three first-half scorers, Forrest, Idah and Maeda, with Nicolas Kuhn, Kyogo and Luis Palma.

Nine minutes later, O’Riley whipped in the fifth after nice work on the right between Hatate and Kuhn. The German winger switched the ball to the gifted middle-of-the-park performer who passed the ball low beyond the diving O’Hara.

NUMBER FOUR…Matt O’Riley is congratulated by Greg Taylor after his blistering drive to make it 4-0.¬†

The two-goal playmaker and skipper Callum McGregor made way in the 74th minute for Tomoki Iwata and Paulo Bernardo to give them a well-earned rest.

The Hoops were almost gifted a sixth when Joe Wright slashed at a low cross from Bernardo and hammered the ball against his own crossbar.

Then came the shrill of the final whistle from referee Don Robertson and it was party time for the Celtic players and the travelling support.

NUMBER FIVE…Matt O’Riley calmly finishes off the Celtic goal rout.

Celtic scored five, but it could have been double on a night when Joe Hart was called upon to make only two saves of note. One came from a drive by Marley Watkins that saw the ball rebound to Daniel Armstrong who scored with a fine attempt. His joy was dimmed when the effort was ruled it out for offside against his team-mate.

And Hart made a fine plunging save to his left to deny Liam Polworth as the game edged towards its conclusion.

His opposite number, Kieran O’Hara, had a busier time and pulled off tremendous saves from Scales, O’Riley, Idah and Kyogo to keep the score down.

Now there is the little matter of Flag Day at Parkhead when St Mirren come visiting on Saturday and then the Scottish Cup Final against Philippe Clement’s Ibrox outfit seven days later.

The league and Cup double is well and truly on!

TEAM: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; O’Riley (sub: Bernardo 74), McGregor (sub: Iwata 74), Hatate; Forrest (sub: Kuhn 62), Idah (sub: Kyogo 62), Maeda (sub: Palma 62).

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