Kilmarnock 0 - 3 Celtic

Match info: Scottish Premier at Rugby Park

Date: 14/03/2014 KO: 19:45 Ref: Att: 7,495

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Kilmarnock

0
vs
3

Celtic

Kris Commons 57,59,86

FT (ht: 0-0)

  • Last Updated: March 14 2014, 23:28 GMT

Celtic boss Neil Lennon feels 26-goal playmaker Kris Commons has plugged the gap left in his side by Gary Hooper's departure.

Kris Commons: Scored all three goals for Celtic
Kris Commons: Scored all three goals for Celtic

The former Scotland attacker killed off Kilmarnock at Rugby Park with a second-half hat-trick as the Hoops closed to within seven points of their third Scottish Premiership title in a row with a 3-0 win.

Commons swept past Craig Samson after linking up with Leigh Griffiths on 57 minutes before netting again 90 seconds later when he tapped home from close range.

The league's top-scorer then planted a low shot into the bottom corner four minutes from time to claim the match ball and Lennon says his on-form player has made Parkhead fans forget all about Norwich poacher Hooper.

He said: "Kris is just on top of his game right now. I asked him at half-time to give me a little bit more along with Leigh Griffiths and Anthony Stokes because I thought we were a bit slack in the final third.

"We were sensational in the second half and Kris is at the forefront of that.

"His first goal was a really clever finish, he was in for the tap-in and his third goal is his trademark. It's no fluke that third goal because he does it time and time again.

"He is so important to the way we play. We set the team up to suit him.

"We always think that Kris will bring us goals but he is not an out-and-out striker. His return is the type you would expect from a bonafide centre-forward, so it's even more magnificent considering he is more of a number 10. He is just brilliant. He has plugged a huge gap for us this season, there is no doubt about that."

Commons has ruled out returning to Scotland duty, claiming the rest he gets during international breaks is behind his current hot streak.

But Lennon plans to talk to the player and ask him to think again, saying: "I would like him to reconsider his position because I think he has got a lot to offer the national team."

Lennon's side now lead Aberdeen by 24 points and can clinch their latest title against Ross County at Parkhead on March 29.

"That's us three games from the title now," said the manager. "We don't want to crawl over the line, we want to forge ahead, win the league and then start to build for next season."

Killie lost out despite a decent start but there was good news as chairman Michael Johnston announced he had struck a deal to wipe out the Ayrshire side's £9.4million debts.

Johnston - an unpopular figure with fans - will step down as chairman at the end of the season but retain a place on the board.

And boss Allan Johnston, whose side still face a fight to avoid the relegation play-off spot, welcomed the news, saying: "It's fantastic and gives the whole club a major lift.

"The chairman and [investor] Billy Bowie have been working hard behind the scenes to get it sorted.

"Now we just need to get it right on the park and get ourselves out of this position we are in."