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Lacklustre Celtic have an off-day in Kilmarnock

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Kilmarnock boss Alex Dyer and his Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon exchange pleasantries at the end of yesterday’s draw at Rugby Rark. Photo: Reuters

Kilmarnock boss Alex Dyer and his Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon exchange pleasantries at the end of yesterday’s draw at Rugby Rark. Photo: Reuters

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Kilmarnock boss Alex Dyer and his Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon exchange pleasantries at the end of yesterday’s draw at Rugby Rark. Photo: Reuters

The absence of spectators has been much lamented throughout sport but Celtic fans could be excused relief at their exile from Rugby Park, where their heroes delivered a rare substandard performance to shed two points to Kilmarnock.

Despite taking an early lead through Ryan Christie, Celtic were pegged back by a Chris Burke penalty after Nicke Kabamba had spooked Christopher Jullien.

Celtic aimed to emphasise their credentials for a 10th successive league title with a victory in Ayrshire.

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Kilmarnock's Danny Rogers can't keep out Celtic's Ryan Christie's goal. Photo: Getty Images

Kilmarnock's Danny Rogers can't keep out Celtic's Ryan Christie's goal. Photo: Getty Images

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Kilmarnock's Danny Rogers can't keep out Celtic's Ryan Christie's goal. Photo: Getty Images

 

Recent history, in the form of three 3-1 wins for the Hoops when these teams met last season, favoured the visitors, but the first half did not follow the script.

True, the visitors went ahead in a fashion that must have piqued the Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer, who had made one change to the side that lost to Hibernian at Easter Road when he replaced Greg Kiltie with Gary Dicker.

It was Irishman Dicker who, at the cost of a caution, fouled Odsonne Edouard for a free-kick 10 minutes into the proceedings. The location was distant from the target but, although Christie's delivery was precise, Danny Rogers looked slow to read its trajectory as the ball curled past him from the set-piece.

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Celtic's James Forrest is challenged by Kilmarnock's Calum Waters. Photo: Getty Images

Celtic's James Forrest is challenged by Kilmarnock's Calum Waters. Photo: Getty Images

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Celtic's James Forrest is challenged by Kilmarnock's Calum Waters. Photo: Getty Images

 

If Kilmarnock were discomfited by falling behind so early, they did not show it, mainly because they had the option of a simple out ball to Kabamba.

The striker was effective in disrupting Celtic's centre-backs Jullien and Kris Ajer. Jullien's response was to yank his jersey in sight of the referee, who signalled a spot-kick, which represented the first test for Vasilis Barkas, newly acquired from AEK Athens.

The goalkeeper guessed the direction of Burke's attempt correctly but could not get a glove to the ball as it crossed the line inside his left post.

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Kilmarnock's Chris Burke tucks a penalty past Vasilis Barkas. Photo: Getty Images

Kilmarnock's Chris Burke tucks a penalty past Vasilis Barkas. Photo: Getty Images

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Kilmarnock's Chris Burke tucks a penalty past Vasilis Barkas. Photo: Getty Images

 

Kabamba continued to generate menace, missing with another header, this time from a Ross Millen cross, but came closer five minutes before the break when he took on Ajer and Jullien once more, striking a deflected shot off the Frenchman and over Barkas, but the goalkeeper was able to scramble a save.

Midway through the second period, Celtic manager Neil Lennon sent on Hatem Elhamed and Patryk Klimala for Jeremie Frimpong and Mohamed Elyounoussi but the home side held out for a deserved draw.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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