Sport

Celtic frustrated by Kilmarnock as Hearts beat Hibs

Celtic's Stuart Armstrong ends up in the net after this attack but the Hoops couldn't get the ball there as they drew 0-0 with Kilmarnock
By Press Association reporters

Ladbrokes Premiership: Celtic 0 Kilmarnock 0

CELTIC boss Brendan Rodgers was not surprised to be frustrated by Kilmarnock in their goalless Ladbrokes Premiership draw at Parkhead.

Steve Clarke's side had lost their three post-split games and were determined to leave Glasgow with at least a point.

The much-changed home team struggled against resolute Killie in a rather lifeless first half and were unable to convert the few real opportunities they were restricted to after the break.

Rodgers said: "Steve has done a very good job.

"Maybe in the last few games they have tried to open up a bit and obviously conceded so coming here and how we have been playing and scoring, he probably wasn't going to do that.

"So they were compact and tight and if you can make the breakthrough early in the games it gives you a better opportunity but we didn't quite do that.

"So it was a typical 0-0 game."

With one eye on the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Motherwell after the final league game against Aberdeen on Sunday, Rodgers refused to risk Moussa Dembele, the only fit striker, leaving winger Patrick Roberts to start as the main striker.

He said: "There is no doubt if I had the players available and fit I would have played a different system, against that low block.

"But it was too big a risk. Moussa is my only fit striker and he is coming back from injury.

"He played great at the weekend (3-1 win over Hearts) but I didn't want to risk him.

"He will feature again at the weekend against Aberdeen.

"Tonight was about giving players the opportunity, those that have been on the side, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic, guys who haven't had a lot of game time, young Calvin Miller coming in to get more experience, young Ewan (Henderson) coming on to the game (to make debut). He is a talent.

"So it was really positive from that aspect."

Clarke had drawn with and beaten Celtic since taking over the Rugby Park club in October and welcomed another point against the Hoops.

He said: "It was a controlled, disciplined performance and we restricted Celtic to very few chances.

"Jamie MacDonald had one really decent save second half with his foot, apart from that, pretty comfortable defensively.

"As a coach you are never happy. I thought we could have done a little bit more with the ball.

"We broke up play quite a lot and didn't really use the ball well enough going forward, didn't really look like a goal threat which is disappointing because we normally do."

Ladbrokes Premiership: Hearts 2 Hibernian 1

STEVEN Naismith struck the winner as Hearts ended Hibernian's hopes of finishing second in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

A 2-1 defeat at Tynecastle means Hibs will finish fourth unless they beat Rangers by six goals at Easter Road on Sunday.

Naismith headed home in the 57th minute after Florian Kamberi's penalty had cancelled out Kyle Lafferty's opening goal.

Hibs only needed a point to keep in touch with second-placed Aberdeen but they rarely threatened a second equaliser.

They are now relying on Celtic to beat Motherwell in the William Hill Scottish Cup final to claim a Europa League spot, unless they pull off an extraordinary result against third-placed Rangers.

Hibs made the brighter start with Brandon Barker looking the player likeliest to make a breakthrough. The winger had one shot blocked after a piercing run and then forced a decent stop from Jon McLaughlin.

The simmering derby tension boiled over when Lafferty went in hard and late on Lewis Stevenson, sparking a bout of pushing and a yellow card for the Northern Ireland international.

Hearts channelled their aggression well and went ahead in the 26th minute when Lafferty got the better of Stevenson to get on the end of Naismith's through ball. The striker poked the ball beyond Ofir Marciano into the corner of the net from 10 yards.

Lafferty celebrated his 19th goal of the season in front of the visiting fans and signalled he was unconcerned by the ensuing missiles.

The action was unrelenting before the break. Harry Cochrane, Hearts' 17-year-old midfielder, was more than holding his own amid the rancour and he showed skill and drive to twice get into shooting positions. Marciano saved his first effort and a second deflected just wide.

Barker and Scott Allan forced saves at the other end but Hibs suffered a blow before the interval when wide player Martin Boyle went off with a hamstring injury. Dylan McGeouch came on.

Hibs made the perfect start to the second half as Stevenson atoned for his part in the opener by robbing both Michael Smith and Joaquim Adao before being tripped by the latter. Kamberi sent McLaughlin the wrong way from the 48th-minute spot-kick.

But the hosts went back in front when Naismith glanced a header home from Cochrane's free-kick.

Hearts generally held firm, although the visitors did create some chances

Barker took the ball too wide from Vykintas Slivka's pass and shot over before McLaughlin denied substitute Jamie Maclaren following a late corner, and Kamberi shot just past the top corner deep into six minutes of injury-time.

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