Friday 31 March 2017

Stokes hits target as Celtic keep their title tilt on track

Kilmarnock 0
Celtic 4

Celtic striker Anthony Stokes scores his side's fourth goal during his team's victory at Rugby Park last night. Photo: PA
Celtic striker Anthony Stokes scores his side's fourth goal during his team's victory at Rugby Park last night. Photo: PA

Roddy Forsyth

At one stage of this compelling game a heartfelt chorus resounded from the Celtic support massed behind Fraser Forster's goal. "One Neil Lennon, there's only one Neil Lennon," came the chant.

The sentiment was freighted with significance because of the revelation that Lennon had been the target of a mail bomb intended to maim or even kill.

Celtic ran up a victory that equalled Rangers' win against Dundee United at Tannadice the previous evening -- with the difference, of course, that the Hoops played against a full deck throughout the 90 minutes, unlike their Old Firm rivals.

Two strikes from Kris Commons took his total to 22 for the season and Gary Hooper took his total for the season to 18.

For most of this campaign it has been a case anything Hooper can do, Anthony Stokes can duplicate, and the Dubliner duly extended his own form with a thrashed drive high into the net 13 minutes after the break to restore the advantage in goal difference that Celtic had enjoyed before Rangers ate into it on Tayside on Tuesday.

Derby

With Rangers now a point ahead but having played one game more, everything points to Sunday's final Old Firm league derby.

Commons started the rout after only three minutes. Hooper was the prompter, nudging the ball ahead of Commons for his midfield team mate to stride on and drive low and crisply beyond Anssi Jaakkola.

Ten minutes before the break, Commons robbed James Fowler midway inside the Killie half, exchanged passes with Hooper and left Jaakkola helpless with a raking finish to make it 2-0.

It became 3-0 shortly before the interval when Stokes supplied Hooper for a simple finish. At half-time there was a mighty cheer for the fan who won himself a wad of cash by succeeding in the hit-the-crossbar contest.

Stokes, though, insisted on his share of the plunder and his strike for Celtic's fourth completed an evening that went a little way towards taking people's minds off the depressing, sinister events that had preceded the game. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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