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Brendan Rodgers hails Celtic players opening 13-point gap at top

Kilmarnock 0 Celtic 1

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers poured praise on his side's defence as Celtic celebrated a slender 1-0 win at Kilmarnock last night.

Stuart Armstrong sent Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic 13 points clear with the only goal at Rugby Park.

The midfielder ran onto Moussa Dembele's lay-off to deliver a composed finish 90 seconds before half-time.

Ulsterman Rodgers said: "That's our seventh clean sheet in a row. In the first half we played very well.

"In the main I thought we were slick, our movement was good and we had good patience.

"We created chances and I thought we looked really exciting when we were going forward.

"In the second half, give Kilmarnock credit, they came out to throw everything at it.

"Lee's (Clark) team did him very proud in the second half.

"We had chances to finish the game but couldn't quite get the pass to make the finish."

Jamie MacDonald made some decent saves to keep his well-organised and spirited team in the game but Celtic gave little away in terms of clear-cut chances.

The clean sheet came with the help of Dedryck Boyata, who was handed his first appearance since April, and with Callum McGregor playing left-back after Celtic moved to a back four in the second half.

Leigh Griffiths was absent after returning from Scotland duty with a tight hamstring.

Celtic made a purposeful start and Armstrong cut the hosts open but Will Boyle did enough to prevent Dembele converting James Forrest's cutback.

Erik Sviatchenko headed just wide from a corner but Celtic found chances hard to come by until Forrest created one from nothing in the 25th minute as he turned back outside the box before hitting a left-footed strike which a diving MacDonald clawed away from his top corner.

Dembele had a goal correctly ruled out for offside against Scott Brown before setting up the opener. Armstrong took a chance with a run and the France Under-21 international slipped him in with his back to goal. The former Dundee United midfielder stroked home.

Killie's best chance came on the break after Scott Boyd cleared off the line from Forrest. Substitute Nathan Tyson held the ball up for Adam Frizzell but Craig Gordon got down well.

Mikael Lustig hit the post after a one-two with Forrest and Killie kept pressing but Gary Dicker saw his header deflected wide.

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