Kilmarnock striker Kyle Vassell stressed the quality of Celtic despite bemoaning their error-ridden start to Sunday’s 4-1 defeat against the cinch Premiership leaders.
Killie were four down inside 27 minutes against the reigning champions but a double substitution on the half-hour mark stabilised the Ayrshire side and Liam Donnelly’s strike added some respectability to the final score.
Vassell said: “We made mistakes and they just capitalised on them. They are such a hard team to play against anyway, the second you give them a bit of a sniff or incentive they just capitalise and are off to the races.
“It took us a little bit too long to regroup and settle down. We obviously did that eventually but you can’t give them four goals at home in 20-odd minutes. But they are top of the league for a reason.”
Killie ended the game with their confidence largely intact after stemming the tide of Celtic chances and having 14 shots at goal themselves.
“We know what we can do and we know if we started that way it would have been a much closer game and, who knows, we could have frustrated them for a period and nicked a goal,” said Vassell, who twice came close late on. “Of course it’s frustrating, you don’t want to lose any game let alone 4-1 at home.
“But it’s Celtic, they are genuinely some of the best players, great players. So you have got to give them a little bit of respect but we let ourselves down.”
Killie now face a trip to St Mirren on Saturday before facing their bottom-six rivals in their relegation battle.
And Vassell knows they will face nobody near the quality of Celtic, who he was quick to compare to the best teams he has faced in his career.
“When I played Premier League teams in the cup,” he said when asked to give a comparison. “Genuinely, the top teams.
“(Callum) McGregor is so good. He is so good at football. He runs you away to make space for other players and you have (Greg) Taylor coming in the pitch.
“The way they are organised, and they are so disciplined, they just keep the ball. My comparison would be a Premier League team.
“They are a cut above. Those (remaining) games we can all see more of the ball and be a bit more of an attacking threat and hopefully we can do what we need to do in those games.”