SPL - Celtic fight back to earn point

Sat, 15 Oct 17:26:00 2011

Celtic scored three goals in five minutes to earn an unlikely 3-3 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in the SPL after they trailed 3-0 at the break.

Charlie Mulgrew - 0

Neil Lennon's side looked doomed at half-time after a shambolic performance in defence and midfield saw the visitors ease three goals clear courtesy of efforts from Dean Shiels (26), Paul Heffernan (40) and James Fowler (44).

That looked the likeliest outcome from the afternoon until Stokes stepped up to wallop a delicious free-kick into the net from 25 yards out on 74 minutes.

Stokes swivelled to score a second from distance on 76 minutes before Charlie Mulgrew - who was guilty of a sloppy passback that enabled Fowler to net the home side's third goal - pounced to head home from close range on 79 minutes.

SPL leaders Rangers will move 12 points clear if they beat St Mirren later in the day with third-placed Celtic having a game in hand on their Glasgow rivals.

Motherwell remain second in the table, a point ahead of Celtic before they visit Hibernian.

Kilmarnock will be left feeling a bit sore having played some entertaining passing football in the first half. Shiels drilled a shot beyond the visiting keeper Fraser Forster to give Killie the lead before Shiels played provider for Heffernan to slip the ball home as Kille moved two clear.

Kenny Shiels' side seemed certain of only a second win in 35 league matches against Celtic when Mulgrew's short passback enabled Fowler to bound clear and beat the exposed and furious Forster with some ease.

But Celtic came to life courtesy of Stokes and probably merited their point from the energy of their efforts in mounting a recovery that never looked on the cards.

Heffernan could have won it for the home side in the dying moments, but he headed over from four yards out after Gary Harkins had headed back across goal.

Stokes missed an easier chance early in the first period when he somehow bundled the ball over the bar from the same range with the goal gaping after being played in by a lovely pass from Du-Ri Cha.

In the end, there was only the six goals as both teams traipsed off the park wondering what might have been.

- - -

Rangers were denied a 10th consecutive win in the Scottish Premier League after being held to a last-gasp 1-1 draw by St Mirren.

The Scottish champions had looked on course to move 12 points clear of Celtic when Nikica Jelavic opened the scoring early in the second half.

But Ally McCoist's men were stunned when Saints hit back deep in injury time as former Rangers striker Steven Thompson grabbed a late leveller to ensure a share of the points.

Jamie Murphy's early header gave Motherwell a deserved 1-0 win over Hibernian to move the Fir Park club three points clear of Celtic and into second place.

The winger headed in a Tom Hateley cross after eight minutes but the visitors should have had the victory wrapped up before enduring a nervy finish.

Well midfielder Keith Lasley headed off the post in the first half before Hibs goalkeeper Graham Stack made a brilliant double save to deny both Stephen Craigan and Michael Higdon after the break.

A superb display from Aberdeen gave them a 3-1 win over a disappointing Dundee United at Pittodrie.

Icelandic international Kari Arnason opened the scoring when he fired the ball into the roof of the net from close range after Rory Fallon's header had been kept out by Dusan Pernis.

A Youl Mawene header six minutes after the break then gave the Dons a second, before Andrew Considine added another when he slotted the ball home at the back post. United substitute Lauri Dalla Valle pulled a goal back for the Tannadice men, but the Dons held on for all three points.

Heart of Midlothian claimed their first away win since February with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Dunfermline at East End Park.

Andy Webster headed home a first-half opener and Rudi Skacel doubled the visitors' advantage with 15 minutes remaining.

Immediately after the goal Dunfermline made a double substitution with Pat Clarke and Paul Willis coming on in place of Andy Kirk and Ryan Thomson.

Derek McInnes enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 victory in what could be his final match in charge of St Johnstone as goals in each half saw off Inverness.

Less than 24 hours after being given permission to speak to Bristol City, McInnes saw his side consolidate their top six position thanks to strikes from Francisco Sandaza and Dave Mackay.

Sandaza linked brilliantly with Cillian Sheridan to net his seventh goal of the season in the early stages and Mackay finished well in the 65th minute after Inverness failed to clear a Jody Morris cross.

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