Scott Brown’s late strike saw Celtic open up an eight-point gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 1-0 win at Kilmarnock on Sunday.
Despite playing against 10 men for the final quarter of an hour – after Kirk Broadfoot was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Brown – the visitors were made to wait until the last minute before taking the lead through their skipper’s deflected shot.
The Celtic midfielder was then sent off himself after picking up a second yellow for celebrating in the crowd, but Brendan Rodgers’ side extended their lead over second-placed Rangers after their city rivals were held to a goalless draw at home to St Johnstone on Saturday.
The result also extends Celtic’s impressive winning run to eight league games, all without conceding, since losing the Old Firm derby at the end of December, while Kilmarnock stay fourth, just a point behind Aberdeen.
In a tight first 45 minutes on Rugby Park’s artificial pitch, it was the visitors who largely controlled proceedings, but without ever really threatening to make the breakthrough.
The closest Celtic came to opening the scoring came after 11 minutes following some patient build-up play through the middle, before Ryan Christie’s clever pass released Odsonne Edouard.
However, faced with the onrushing Daniel Bachmann to beat, the returning France striker shot straight at the Killie No 1, while the second period was an equally cagey affair.
The contest really opened up, though, when Broadfoot was dismissed after catching Brown on the ankle, resulting in a late siege on Kilmarnock’s goal.
However, it seemed as though Steve Clarke was about to mastermind another impressive result against Celtic, that is until the final minute when Dedryck Boyata did well to head Callum McGregor’s right-wing corner straight into the path of the unmarked Brown.
And somehow the skipper’s well-struck shot found its way into the back of the net, albeit with the help of a big deflection off substitute Alex Bruce.
Brown then celebrated his winner by jumping into the Celtic fans behind the goal, with referee Robert Madden given no alternative but to hand the player a second yellow.