Matthews fires double as Celtic go 15 clear
© Getty Images

Adam Matthews grabbed a double to help Celtic to a 4-1 defeat of Kilmarnock on Wednesday that extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to 15 points. 

Kilmarnock thought they had taken a 37th-minute lead when Ross Barbour looked to have prodded Rory McKeown's cross past Lukasz Zaluska at the far post.

But after initially appearing to award a goal referee Calum Murray gave a free-kick to Celtic, much to the anger of the visiting players.

Their sense of injustice grew five minutes later when substitute Joe Ledley opened the scoring with a sensational strike from 25 yards.

Killie equalised three minutes after the break when Cillian Sheridan converted a William Gros cross but they were only level for two minutes before Matthews sent a sizzling 25-yard effort past Cammy Bell.

Anthony Stokes replaced Kris Commons in the 74th minute and four minutes later got his first goal of an injury ravaged season as he rounded Bell and finished from a tight angle.

The Irishman then crossed for Matthews to stab home his second of the match from close range in the 84th minute.

The win moves Celtic 15 points clear of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who lost 2-1 away to St Mirren.

"They won't get a lot of credit for that but they will in the dressing room. They showed a great mentality to bounce back so well," said Celtic manager Neil Lennon in reference to his side's shock League Cup exit to St Mirren at the weekend.

"On the back of Sunday they showed great character. To be honest with you it could have been 10 as we missed so many good chances in the second half."

Bhoys open brightly
Celtic made just two changes from the side that crashed out of the League Cup with Mikel Lustig and Commons replacing Lassad Nouioui and Ledley.

Commons came closest to opening the scoring in the ninth minute when he hit a screamer of a free-kick from 30 yards that keeper Bell just managed to tip onto the crossbar.

The woodwork denied Celtic again in the 27th minute when Samaras held the ball well up for Commons whose shot from the edge of the box hit the corner of the bar.

Ledley gave Celtic the lead with a stunning strike from 25 yards just six minutes after replacing the injured Emilio Izaguirre.

Commons worked the ball out to him and the Welshman, who slipped as he struck it, sent in a swerving shot that left Bell with no chance in its way into the top left-hand corner.

Kilmarnock equalised just three minutes after the break through Sheridan.

William Gros shrugged off the challenge of Victor Wanyama before firing the ball across goal for the former Celtic player to tap past Zaluska from close range.

Matthews restored Celtic's lead two minutes later. The Welshman received the ball 25 yards out from Commons and took a touch before unleashing a fierce strike that flew past Bell.

Kilmarnock came close to an equaliser when an attempted clearance fell to Barbour 20 yards out and Zaluska had to pull off a spectacular save to deny his vicious volley before Jeroen Tesselaar got in behind the Celtic defence and let fly with a shot that dipped just over the bar.

However, a minute later substitute Stokes netted his first goal of the season. The Irish striker collected a through ball from Hooper before rounding Bell and firing in from a tight angle.

Stokes then turned provider as he crossed for Matthews to stab home from a couple of yards out.

There was still time for Hooper to fire a shot off the post from four yards out as Celtic looked to add to the scoreline.