BRENDAN RODGERS accepted Celtic had only themselves to blame for their dismal 2-1 loss against Kilmarnock at rain lashed Rugby Park.

The champions, leading at the interval, didn’t respond to the challenge of Derek McInnes’ side in the second period and meekly surrendered to their first league defeat of the campaign at the same venue where they went out of the Viaplay League Cup in August.

The Hoops were bullied and pushed aside by their aggressive opponents and two goals in 12 second-half minutes sealed their fate.

Their cause wasn’t helped when one of the Killie strikes came from Nat Phillips who made a mess of trying to cut out a right-wing cross from Brad Lyons in the 75th minute.

That goal nullified Matt O’Riley’s ninth strike of the season in the 33rd minute to give the visitors a half-time lead.

GRIM VIEWING…Brendan Rodgers watches as Celtic topple in a bewildering second-half fade.

Killie got the winner in the 87th minute when Alistair Johnston gave away possession at one end of the pitch and the home outfit raced upfield for Matty Kennedy to tuck the ball behind the helpless Joe Hart to cut the Parkhead side’s advantage at the Premiership pinnacle to five points over their nearest challengers who have a game in hand.

A dismayed Rodgers said: “I thought in the first-half we played some really good football and deserved to be in front.

“We created opportunities and played the game that we wanted to play. I think in the second-half we didn’t start the game well enough.

“Obviously, we knew there were going to be moments of pressure in that first 10 or 15 minutes when we had to deal with the set-pieces.

“We did that, but we never passed the ball. We played the game that they wanted to play and got rid of the ball instead of passing it, which meant then we couldn’t sustain attacks and we couldn’t arrive up there as much as we would’ve liked.

“So, overall, it was disappointing.”

Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “But, still, we should be better.

“I don’t think we can look at anyone today other than ourselves.

“In the first-half, we looked good, confident in the game, pressed well, counter-pressed well, but we didn’t respond in the second-half.”


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