Chris Burke’s penalty gave Kilmarnock a precious Premiership point against below-par Celtic at the BBSP Stadium, Rugby Park.
Midfielder Ryan Christie opened the scoring for the champions with a free-kick from distance after 10 minutes but Killie’s veteran winger levelled in the 24th minute from a spot-kick conceded by the unconvincing defender Christopher Jullien.
The Hoops scored with their first shot on goal, after Killie skipper Gary Dicker had been booked for a foul on French striker Odsonne Edouard 30 yards from goal. Christie stepped up and rather casually bent the free-kick past keeper Danny Rogers, making his first start for the home side.
Kilmarnock’s leveller came when Jullien first allowed Rory McKenzie to keep the ball in play down the flank and then tangled clumsily with Kabamba on the byline inside the box. Referee Alan Muir pointed to the spot and 36-year-old Burke steered the ball low past diving debutant Vasilis Barkas for his second goal in two games.
Neil Lennon’s side stepped up the tempo after the break but all the huffing and puffing came to nothing against a disciplined, well-organised Killie team who defended as if their lives depended on it.
Steven Gerrard hailed Alfredo Morelos after revealing a pre-match pep talk sparked the Rangers striker back into life. Morelos grabbed his first league goals of 2020 with a double in Rangers’ 3-0 win over St Mirren.
It was a much livelier display from the Colombian against the Buddies than he managed during Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Bayer Leverkusen.
Gerrard admitted after that display that the player’s head had been “turned” by interest from Lille, but he was fulsome in his praise after watching Morelos strike twice having also played a key role in Conor McCarthy’s first-half own goal.
“He certainly deserved the man of the match,” said the Rangers manager. “I thought his focus was really strong. He got a good assist and two goals and I thought his all-round play deserved those numbers. We spoke to the whole group about Thursday’s performance and how the all-round performance had to be better.
“I did have a private chat with Alfredo about his own performance. He acknowledged the fact that he could have been better. But he wasn’t the only one. I think as a group we could have been better on Thursday night. There was no finger-pointing individually but I do speak to the players and get a feel for what they are feeling. Alfredo was well aware that he needed to perform a little bit better.
“He certainly showed a great reaction today, though. From the first whistle until the end, it was a really strong Morelos performance.”