The Parkhead side put the pain of crashing out the Scottish League Cup behind them as they get back to winning ways with a victory that sees continue their march to the title
Former Hoop Cillian Sheridan had the Ayrshire side back on level terms just after the break, but the home side were able to get back to winning ways.
The home side made two changes from the side that crashed out of the League Cup to St Mirren, with Ledley and Lassad Nouioui dropping to the bench and Mikael Lustig and Kris Commons coming in.
Kenny Shiels decided to five changes to the side that drew at home to Dundee, with James Dayton and Sheridan starting along with youngsters Mark O’Hara, Jude Winchester and William Gros, with skipper Manuel Pascali, Gary Hay, Borja Perez and Paul Heffernan dropped to the bench, while Rory McKenzie missed out completely.
Celtic came out of the traps quick, as they camped inside the Kilmarnock half early on, with the first chance coming from Georgios Samaras when he got onto the end of a ball from Charlie Mulgrew, but his strike hit the side-netting.
It continued to be one-way traffic, with Samaras picking up the ball on the edge of the Kilmarnock area and he played it back to Commons, who unleashed a strike which had Cammy Bell scrambling as it drifted just wide.
The two Celtic forwards linked up again minutes later as Samaras stole the ball from the visitors after they had taken a free kick in their own half, with the Greek striker playing a cross-field pass to Commons, who’s strike towards goal was diverted past the post by Bell.
Kilmarnock thought they had scored as Ross Barbour got onto the end of a cross from the left, putting the ball under Lukasz Zaluska, but the referee awarded a free kick to the home side.
Neil Lennon’s side took the lead as Ledley who had come on for Emilio Izaguirre who picked up an injury, unleashed a superb strike from some 30 yards out, which swirled beyond the arms of Bell and into the net.
Completely against the run of play Kilmarnock got level at the start of the second half, as Gros managed to outmuscle Victor Wanyama on the left wing and crossed into the box, past the outstretched arms of Zaluska and that allowed Sheridan to tap the ball home.
But they weren’t level for long as Commons found Matthews at the same position as Ledley had scored in the first half and the Welsh full back unleashed a strike similar to his international teammate, past Bell to retake the lead.
The league leaders continued to push forward, with Commons having two chances in the space of a few minutes, but he couldn’t find the back of the net.
The victory was sealed late on as substitute Stokes got onto the end of a through ball from Hooper and rounded Bell before putting the ball into the empty net.
Celtic scored four in their third straight SPL game as Lustig crossed from the right wing for Matthews, from two yards to secure a comfortbale victory.