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Celtic 1-1 Kilmarnock: Hoops stunned by late leveller
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Gavin McCafferty
Press Association
David Watson heads home late on (Andrew Milligan/PA)
David Watson heads home late on (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Kilmarnock once again proved a thorn in Celtic’s side as David Watson headed a stoppage-time equaliser at Parkhead to deal a major blow to the Hoops’ title hopes.

A first-half header from Kyogo Furuhashi looked like being just enough to send Celtic three points ahead of Rangers in the cinch Premiership title race.

But Watson headed into the corner of the net from fellow substitute Fraser Murray’s cross after Alexandro Bernabei had misjudged the flight of the ball.

The 1-1 draw gives Rangers the chance to move two points clear at the top of the table when they face St Johnstone in Perth on Sunday, having already clawed back a seven-point deficit since Philippe Clement took over eight games into the season.

Kilmarnock had already beaten their hosts twice at Rugby Park this season – once in the Viaplay Cup – and their late goal came from one of 12 shots at goal.

Joe Hart twice saved well from Liam Donnelly and Killie manager Derek McInnes was frustrated his side did not get a penalty for Stephen Welsh’s sliding challenge on Marley Watkins.

Neither referee John Beaton nor video assistant Willie Collum were convinced by Watkins’ appeals but it looked a risky challenge.

Celtic had left-back Greg Taylor back from a calf injury while Israel international Liel Abada was still absent after it was decided he was not in the right frame of mind to play following talks with manager Brendan Rodgers.

The game started amid a vocal tribute to the Palestinian people from the Celtic support, some of whom held up banners stating “30,000+ dead, 12,000+ children, end the genocide, end Zionism”.

On the park, Watkins saw a header saved from an early chance.

Adam Idah was showing some good touches up front for Celtic and one flick paved the way for Callum McGregor to play in Luis Palma. The winger had options but chose to cut inside and goalkeeper Will Dennis came out to block his shot.

The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute when Anthony Ralston ended a spell of tight passing as he noticed Furuhashi peeling off Joe Wright to the back post. The right-back floated a perfect ball for the the Japanese striker to loop the ball home.

Killie responded well and twice threatened following Danny Armstrong crosses. Hart stopped Donnelly’s close-ranger header and then Watkins went down clutching his ankle after Welsh’s sliding penalty-box challenge.

Referee John Beaton waved play on and the game continued after a short delay following the next stoppage.

Celtic had chances to ease the tension. McGregor shot over and Matt O’Riley was denied twice by Dennis and once by Corrie Ndaba’s goalline clearance.

Taylor was replaced by Bernabei on the hour mark in what looked a pre-planned move.

Killie sensed there was something to take from the game with Armstrong at the centre of much of their attacking play.

Donnelly met the winger’s inswinging free-kick and powered a header which Hart pushed over. Armstrong then had a chance of his own but mis-kicked a shot wide when Ndaba’s cross found him beyond the back post.

Celtic got back on top but substitute Paulo Bernardo shot over from 14 yards after getting the chance to make it a more comfortable final 10 minutes.

The home crowd grew audibly more anxious and Watson missed from close range before getting space at the back post to head into the bottom corner.

Celtic threw men forward but it was the visitors who came closer to a last-gasp winner when Murray broke and fired a low shot which Hart got down to save.


Scottish PremiershipCelticKilmarnock
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