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Celtic clinched their third consecutive cinch Premiership in style as they produced one of their best performances of the season to beat Kilmarnock 5-0 at Rugby Park.

A third derby triumph of the campaign on Saturday had left Brendan Rodgers’ side needing just a point from their final two games to see off Rangers’ challenge and they made quick work of their first attempt at Rugby Park.

Goals from Adam Idah and Daizen Maeda had Celtic two ahead inside 12 minutes and James Forrest added a third before half-time.

Midfielder Matt O’Riley netted a second-half double to underline his unsurpassed contribution to the title success, taking his league goal tally to 17.

Kilmarnock v Celtic
Celtic fans unveiled a banner of former player Tommy Burns (Jane Barlow/PA)

The date and venue of Celtic’s triumph was significant. The away fans unveiled a huge banner of Tommy Burns before the game on the 16th anniversary of the death of the former Hoops and Killie player and manager, and the whole ground joined in a minute’s applause.

Rugby Park was also where Rodgers saw his perfect Scottish knockout record end in August last year when Celtic crashed out of the League Cup. Celtic had also lost in Ayrshire in the league as well as drawing at home to Killie in February, a result which allowed Rangers to move top of the league after trailing by seven points after seven matches.

With key players back fit, Celtic have come good when it mattered, accumulating 22 points from eight games to take full advantage of their opponents’ slump in form in mid-April. The one draw came at Ibrox.

They continued their impressive form in Ayrshire, although their fifth-minute opener had more than a touch of controversy as Killie felt play should have been stopped to allow treatment to Robbie Deas, who took Idah’s arm to the face 10 yards inside his own half.

The Irishman broke forward and fed O’Riley on the right before continuing his run and knocking home the midfielder’s ball across the face of goal.

Deas required treatment while the VAR check was ongoing, but referee Don Robertson was not called to his monitor.

Celtic doubled their lead when Maeda burst into the six-yard box to convert Alistair Johnston’s cutback after Reo Hatate had opened up the home defence.

The visitors were in the mood to finish off the job. Idah saw a strike saved and both Forrest and Liam Scales came close from outside the box.

Killie’s task could have been greater when Liam Donnelly scythed down Hatate. The midfielder had been fortunate to escape a booking for pulling O’Riley back earlier and would have been relieved to see the yellow card this time.

James Forrest
James Forrest made it 3-0 (Jane Barlow/PA)

Celtic did not need any numerical advantage though and they went three ahead in the 35th minute. Idah played Maeda in behind and Forrest showed good awareness to meet the Japan international’s low cross and sidefoot the ball home.

Kieran O’Hara saved from Idah and O’Riley before the interval brought brief respite for Killie.

But there was nothing the goalkeeper could do to stop O’Riley curling a powerful shot into the top corner from 18 yards in the 51st minute.

Killie winger Danny Armstrong netted an equally impressive strike two minutes later but the goal was disallowed for an earlier offside.

The home side continued to attempt to give their supporters something to cheer – on top of their fourth-placed finish and European qualification, and Matty Kennedy headed against the bar.

Kilmarnock v Celtic
Celtic fans celebrated their win (Jane Barlow/PA)

But O’Riley slotted home Celtic’s fifth in the 71st minute after being teed up by substitute Nicolas Kuhn.

The visiting supporters were lapping it up and they reprised a song very rarely heard since Rodgers left suddenly for Leicester in February 2019, hailing their manager for “coming home to lead the green and white”.

It was surely a significant personal moment for the 51-year-old, whose return last summer was met with a mixed reception.

A Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final win over Rangers a week on Saturday would further mend the relationship.