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Saturday 10 December 2016

Celtic show no Killie instinct

Josh Magennis scores Kilmarnock's first goal on the stroke of half-time
Josh Magennis scores Kilmarnock's first goal on the stroke of half-time
Kallum Higginbotham celebrates with team mates after his late equaliser from the penalty spot
Kilmarnock's Kallum Higginbotham equalises late on from the penalty spot at Rugby Park
Celtic's Tomas Rogic has a shot on goal blocked
James Forrest looks for a way past Kilmarnock's Greg Kiltie
Celtic's James Forrest get's to a loose ball ahead of Lee Ashcroft

Kallum Higginbotham scored a dramatic and cheeky late penalty as Kilmarnock came from behind twice to snatch a 2-2 Scottish Premiership draw against Celtic at Rugby Park.

Striker Leigh Griffiths opened the scoring before two minutes had elapsed and the Hoops should have had the game sewn up before the interval.

Instead, Ronny Deila's side went in level after Killie striker Josh Magennis equalised with the home side's first goal of the season, making up for an earlier shocking miss.

Israel midfelder Nir Bitton arrowed in a tremendous 30-yard shot in the 55th minute to restore the champions' lead.

However, with four minutes remaining the home side were awarded a spot-kick when Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre brought down Greg Kiltie and Higginbotham cheekily dinked the ball over Craig Gordon for Killie's first point of the season, with Celtic dropping their first Ladbrokes Premiership points of the campaign.

A long night looked to be on the cards for the Ayrshire side when the Parkhead men took the lead in the second minute.

A quickly taken free-kick by the alert Kris Commons sent Griffiths racing clear of Kilmarnock skipper Mark Connolly before he slipped the ball under Jamie MacDonald.

The Killie goalkeeper then made saves from Commons, Tom Rogic, Griffiths and James Forrest as Celtic threatened to run riot, their momentum disrupted a little in the 28th minute when Gary Mackay-Steven replaced the injured Commons.

In the 35th minute, and completely out of the blue, Magennis missed a glorious chance when he was put through by Rory McKenzie, blasting high over the crossbar when faced with the whites of Gordon's eyes.

The mere creation of a chance seemed to inspire the home side and moments later Gordon saved a Lee Ashcroft header with his foot, before the Killie defender was replaced by Mark O'Hara after sustaining an injury.

Celtic came storming back and in another attack Rogic sent a header against a post before blasting the rebound wide.

But, in the final minute of the half, Magennis erased the memory of his earlier miss when, with the Hoops' defence static inside the box, he knocked a pass from Darryl Westlake past Gordon.

Celtic, somewhat stunned, resumed the second half with renewed purpose.

Bitton decided to take matters into his own hands with a ferocious drive from 30 yards which gave MacDonald no chance, before taking the acclaim of the Celtic fans in the stand behind the goal.

Gordon tipped a long-range effort from McKenzie over the crossbar and as the Glasgow side surged forward for the clinching goal, Griffiths came close with a spectacular over-head kick from eight yards.

Gordon was called into action again with a save at his right-hand post from a 25-yard free-kick by Killie substitute Aaron Splaine, on for Scott Robinson, and the visitors survived the goalmouth melee.

Celtic substitute Charlie Mulgrew, on for Forrest, had the ball in the back of the net after MacDonald spilled yet another effort from Griffiths, but was ruled offside.

It looked, though, like the visitors were going to return to Glasgow with three points until referee Crawford Allan pointed to the spot when Izaguirre clumsily brought down Kiltie, with Higginbotham converting the penalty with some confidence.

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