Our series looking at the games that clinched the title continues with a triumph which looked like a pipe dream only five months earlier.
October 15th 2011; Rugby Park, Kilmarnock. The Celtic title challenge looks dead and buried as Kilmarnock are leading Celtic 3-0 at half-time, facing the prospect of going thirteen points behind Rangers at the top of the league. Neil Lennon's job prospects are hanging by a thread...can the situation be saved?
Full time, Kilmarnock 3 Celtic 3, and a comeback inspired by Anthony Stokes and James Forrest has gained Celtic a vital point, coupled with Rangers' draw with St Mirren, means that the gap at the top of the table remains at only ten points...
April 6th 2012, and what a difference a few months makes, as Celtic head back to Rugby Park eighteen points clear at the top of the table and needing three points to clinch the title. What had made the big difference? Well, the team finally started to show consistency that it had been lacking, headed by the lethal strike pairing of Anthony Stokes and Gary Hooper. Hooper in particular had a great season, finishing with 29 goals. Victor Wanyama and Fraser Forster showed the form that eventually got that huge money moves to England, whilst an unsung hero, Charlie Mulgrew, had by far his best season with the hoops, and was deservedly named player of the year at the end of the season. Interestingly, Kris Commons, probably one of Celtic best players of the decade, didn't feature have a great season at all, scoring only one league goal...but it was against Rangers at least.
The team managed to gel together so quickly that by December 28th we went to the top of the league after defeating Rangers 1-0 thanks to a Joe Ledley goal.
Before we discuss the Kilmarnock game in detail, we should mention the elephant in the room - yes, Rangers went into administration this season, being deducted ten points then liquidating and being born again as a NEW CLUB the next season. However, we were so far ahead of them by the time they went into administration we would have still won the league anyway, in my opinion.
Back to Rugby Park, and the stadium was full of Celtic fans, as Killie had nicely offered us loads of tickets. The fans were set to party and Celtic didn't disappoint, as a Charlie Mulgrew header opened the scoring after only eight minutes. Nine minutes later it was two, as a Glenn Loovens close range header put Celtic well in control. The third goal arrived in the thirty-fifth minute, a fine solo run and finish curled into the bottom corner by man of the match Mulgrew. The title was wrapped up after only forty-five minutes when Hooper made it 4-0 with a typical poachers finish. A Joe Ledley goal and a fine Hooper volley in the last five minutes of the game ended the scoring and once again, Celtic were the champions.
The celebrations after the game were - that's right - wild, and revolved around Neil Lennon and his management team, who had conjured up a title winning run that at one stage seemed highly unlikely. We also made up for the fact that we had thrown away the title the previous season when it was all but won. This was a day of Celtic triumph, and we really should have won the treble this season...but that's a story for another day.
Kilmarnock 0 Celtic 6 (Mulgrew 8, 35, Loovens 17, Hooper 45, 90, Ledley 88)