GLASGOW: Celtic won the Scottish Premier League title for the first time in four years with a 6-0 thrashing of Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday.
Neil Lennon’s side needed one point from the match to end their long wait to be crowned Scottish champions and they did it in style, as Gary Hooper and Charlie Mulgrew both netted twice, with Glenn Loovens and Joe Ledley also on the scoresheet.
It is the first title of Lennon’s two-year reign at Parkhead, although some will always remember it as the season their arch rivals Rangers were deducted 10 points for going into administration — a punishment that effectively handed the crown to Celtic weeks before they actually sealed it.
Lennon was delighted to clinch his first championship as manager and the club’s 43rd in their history.
“It’s the greatest moment of my professional life. It doesn’t get much better than this really,” said the jubilant Celtic boss.
“You could just tell from the kick-off they were up for it and the early goal settled us. I’m so proud and happy for the players. They’ve been fantastic and they did it with style today — that really thrills me,” he said.
Kenny Shiels was disappointed at the size of their defeat.
“We gave them full credit and they’re worthy winners of the championship,” the Kilmarnock manager said.
“We didn’t have the strength of character to deal with a team that were playing here to win the league.”
It took Celtic just seven minutes to take the lead and start the party amongst the visiting fans.
Ki Sung-Yeung swung in a corner from the left and Mulgrew raced through a group of players to leap highest and nod the ball past the helpless Cammy Bell.
Celtic doubled their advantage in the 17th through Loovens. Scott Brown played the ball out wide to Mulgrew who picked out the unmarked Dutchman at the back post who stooped to send an angled header past Bell for his first goal of the season.
Moments later Loovens was again allowed space in the box but this time Bell gathered his glancing header from a Commons corner.
Bell did well to punch a curling 25-yard free-kick from Ki over the bar as Celtic looked to clinch the championship in style.
And the Celtic fans’ party celebrations were in full swing in the 35th when Mulgrew got his second of the game.
The full-back cut in from the left wing and curled the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net past Bell from just inside the box.
The one-way traffic continued as Commons set up Georgios Samaras in the box but Bell somehow managed to stop the Greek striker’s shot with his feet.
Hooper added a fourth in the 45th to compound Killie’s misery. Mulgrew swung the ball over from the left wing to the back post where Hooper volleyed a rising shot past the despairing Bell and into the roof of the net.
It was a case of damage limitation for Killie in the second half but in a rare flurry forward, Liam Kelly sent his shot over the bar after Jamie Fowler’s effort was blocked.
Celtic captain Scott Brown made way for Filip Twardzik in the 48th minute and Dean Shiels quickly picked up a booking for a foul on the Czech youngster.
Loovens raced out of defence to get on the end of Commons’ cross but the Dutchman slid his shot wide under pressure from Bell.
Ledley added a fifth in the 88th minute when Twardzik backheeled the ball into his path and he dinked over the out-rushing keeper.
Hooper completed the rout two minutes later when he cracked a strike high into the net from the edge of the box.