Celtic 1 Kilmarnock 1
Celtic equalled the Parkhead club’s own 100-year-old British domestic unbeaten record of 62 games with a 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock.
Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers rested a clutch of star players with a view to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night and they struggled to break down a stifling visiting defence until prolific striker Leigh Griffiths struck with a fine finish in the 43rd minute.
However, Killie midfielder Jordan Jones stunned Celtic Park on the hour-mark when he dinked in the leveller and although the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders could not get back in front, they now rank alongside Willie Maley’s Celtic side of 1917.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers at Celtic Park. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA
Kilmarnock’s new boss Steve Clarke, who had worked with Rodgers at Chelsea, watched his side grab a last-gasp leveller away to Rangers on Wednesday night in his first game in charge, and will take more encouragement with another point against a much more difficult Old Firm opponent, albeit the champions were not at their best.
Mindful of the upcoming Champions League clash with the German giants in midweek, Rodgers made six changes to his side with 18-year-old attacker Michael Johnston making only his second start and fringe players Kristoffer Ajer and Eboue Kouassi coming in along with Griffiths and Olivier Ntcham.
Skipper Scott Brown and James Forrest were rested altogether with top players like Moussa Dembele, Dedryck Boyata and Stuart Armstrong on the bench.
Despite the disruption to the Celtic ranks, the visitors rarely left their own half in a stultifying first 45 minutes.
Griffiths headed a Kieran Tierney cross inches over the bar in the second minute before midfielder Tom Rogic came close with curling effort.
However after that it was hard work for the home side, who suffered a blow when Patrick Roberts went off injured on the half-hour mark, to be replaced by Scott Sinclair.
Just when Killie had a goalless first-half in their sights, they were undone surprisingly easily when Kouassi sent a long ball over the Rugby Park defence.
Griffiths, in trademark style, raced through and slipped the ball first time past keeper Jamie MacDonald, leaving Clarke to have an interval re-think.
The second-half looked to be going along similar lines but out of the blue, Killie drew level.
Jones beat Craig Gordon with a drive which came off the post but he quickly got back on the ball, worked one-two with Rory McKenzie and slipped the ball past the Celtic goalkeeper from 10 yards.
The goal shook Celtic and their fans.
Rodgers brought on Armstrong for Ntcham and Dembele for Johnston before Griffiths failed to make contact properly at the back post from Tierney’s scuffed shot.
Celtic stepped up the pace in the final stages, willed on by their fans.
MacDonald saved a long-range strike from Griffiths but the Hoops could not get the winner, although the club’s century-old record was equalled and will most likely be surpassed.