The Bhoys swept Killie aside as Charlie Mulgrew's virtuoso first half display helped clinch their first title for four years and sparked wild celebrations at Rugby ParkCeltic sealed the SPL title as they ran out 6-0 winners against Kilmarnock in a rampant display at Rugby Park on Saturday.
All the damage was done in the first half as the visitors raced to a four-goal lead thanks mainly to a scintillating display from Charlie Mulgrew. The fullback scored twice and provided the assist for Glenn Loovens' and Gary Hooper's goals.
Joe Ledley and Hooper rubbed salt into the Kilmarnock wounds with two late goals to round off an emphatic win and kick-start the title celebrations.
Celtic arrived at Rugby Park knowing a point would seal its 43rd Scottish League title. Neil Lennon’s men also had the added incentive of exacting revenge against Kilmarnock who beat them in the Scottish League Cup Final last month.
Neil Lennon made three changes to the side which beat St. Johnstone last week. Kelvin Wilson, Adam Matthews and Sung-Yueng Ki were all recalled to the starting line-up.
Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels was forced into one change from his side's last match as Garry Hay came in for the on-loan Louis Toshney, who was unable to play against his parent club. Meanwhile, top scorer Paul Heffernen returned from injury but was only fit enough to make the bench.
Rugby Park was sold out with thousands of Celtic fans making the trip hoping to see their side clinch the league title. The Bhoys were visibly spurred on by the travelling support and were from the first minute, knocking the ball about with ease with the home side chasing shadows.
It took only seven minutes for Celtic to get the party started as Mulgrew headed in his seventh goal of the season from a corner. Ki’s delivery from the left hand side was met by the defender, who timed his run into the area perfectly and connected with a bullet of a header leaving Cammy Bell with no chance.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 16th minute through Loovens’ first goal of the season. Goalscorer Mulgrew turned provider this time, dropping his shoulder and floating a ball into the back post which was headed home by the center–half to spark wild celebrations from the away supporters.
Kilmarnock looked vulnerable from set-pieces and it could have easily been 3-0 to Celtic had Loovens been able to direct his header from a corner away from Bell in the Kilmarnock goal in the 22nd minute.
It was half an hour before the home side had decent possession in the Celtic half but it failed to make anything from it and allowed the visitors to clear its lines easily before they struck again.
The ball was played up the field to Mulgrew, this time on the left hand side, he cut in onto his right foot and curled home his second and Celtic’s third, all but wrapping up the title in the process in the 35th minute.
Kilmarnock’s hapless defense was immediately exposed again as Common’s collected the ball inside the area and laid it off for Georgios Samaras whose close range shot forced a fine save from Bell.
Rugby Park was a cauldron of noise with all of it coming from the visiting fans whilst the Kilmarnock crowd was very subdued.
The hosts tried to rally in attack as the first half drew to a close and sent a few bodies forward in search of a goal. However, it only served as an invitation for Celtic to hit them on the counterattack as Hooper got in on the act this time, turning home Mulgrew’s cross with a smart finish to make it 4-0 to Celtic at half-time.
Kilmarnock started the second half with more purpose and had their best moment of the match in the 53rd minute. Dean Shiels had an effort on goal comfortably kept out by Fraser Foster before the rebound was blazed over the bar by James Fowler.
Dean Shiels and Mahamadou Sissoko both picked up cautions early in the second half as the home side again grew frustrated by its failure to maintain possession.
Loovens nearly got his second of the match, and his second of the season, as Celtic charged down the pitch on the counterattack. The Dutchman couldn’t convert Mulgrew’s cross for a fifth goal as Bell came rushing out to smother the chance.
Anthony Stokes came off the bench and had a chance to make it five for Celtic but misfired his shot when through on goal.
Man of the match Mulgrew was given a standing ovation from the Celtic fans when he was replaced by Andre Blackman in the 77th minute.
With the match petering out to a finish, Ledley provided the icing on the cake with a goal in the 89th minute.
And, before the Celtic fans had finished celebrating that Ledley strike, Hooper got his second of the match with a beautiful half-volley, making it 6-0 to the visitors and sparking wild celebrations from the traveling support.