FIRST-HALF goals from Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Edouard and a second-half strike from Leigh Griffiths saw Celtic come from behind to defeat Kilmarnock at Parkhead this afternoon - and forge 12 points clear of Rangers at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with 10 games remaining.

Neil Lennon’s side, who took to the field less than 72 hours after the first leg of their Europa League last 32 double header against Copenhagen in Denmark on Thursday night, went 1-0 down early on when Eamonn Brophy netted a penalty.

But the treble treble winners dominated the match thereafter and were well worth the victory – their 10th on the spin domestically since play resumed after the winter shutdown last month – at the end of the 90 minutes.

The result means that Celtic have picked up all 24 points available to them in the Premiership since losing 2-1 to Rangers at Parkhead at the end of December. That impressive record is in stark contrast to their city rivals who have dropped lost two, drawn two and won just four of their eight games in the league this year.

It is now just a matter of time before the defending champions clinch their record-equalling ninth consecutive Scottish title.

Scott Brown, Jonny Hayes and Olivier Ntcham, who had all been involved in Copenhagen, were omitted from the Celtic squad.

Lennon reverted to a three man defence, which comprised Jozo Simunovic, Christopher Jullien and Ajer, and fielded Jeremie Frimpong and Greg Taylor as wing backs.

Callum McGregor dropped into Brown’s holding role – he also donned the captain’s armband in the absence of his countryman - with Ryan Christie and Tom Rogic positioned just in front of him. 

The visitors gave an early indication that they meant business in the very first minute when Nicke Kabamba got a shot on target in the Celtic area. Ryan Christie did well to slide in and block it.

But Alex Dyer’s side went ahead in the sixth minute after Jozo Simunovic clumsily bundled over Brophy inside his own penalty box. Referee Kevin Clancy immediately pointed to the spot.  

Brophy himself stepped forward to take the spot kick and confidently fired past Fraser Forster to take his tally for the 2019/20 campaign to 10.

But the Rugby Park striker’s opener was greeted by cheers from the home support – word had filtered through to the East End that St Johnstone had scored a late equaliser against Rangers at McDiarmid Park.

Celtic fought back well and only some fine goalkeeping by Laurentiu Branescu prevented them from netting an equaliser. He denied Tom Rogic, Griffiths and Simunovic with excellent saves.

However, Ajer finally got the home team back on level terms in the 29th minute after a Ryan Christie corner.

The ball spun out to the right and Jullien cut it back to his fellow centre half whose effort took a slight deflection off Niko Hamalainen on its way past Branescu.

Edouard put Celtic in front just four minutes later when Simunovic nodded a Greg Taylor cross to his feet a few yards in front of the Kilmarnock net.

Kirk Broadfoot got the final touch before the ball crossed the line, but the French striker’s shot was on target so it goes down as his 26th goal of the season.

Alan Power was ordered off by Clancy in the second-half after picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Frimpong in the Celtic half.

Griffiths bagged his fifth goal of 2020 in the 62nd minute when Christie supplied his team mate a few yards out.

Lennon put on Vakoun Issouf Bayo for Edouard and Mohammed Elyounoussi for Rogic in the 74th minute and then Nir Bitton for Griffiths late on.