Celtic were defeated 2-1 by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, as Derek McInnes' men did the double over Brendan Rodgers' men on their own turf this season.

The visitors started the game well and forced several early saves from Kilmarnock's keeper Will Dennis, with Matt O'Riley dictating the early goalmouth action for Brendan Rodgers' side. As expected, Celtic dominated proceedings in terms of possession in the game, with Oh Hyeon-gyu having the best of the early chances in front of goal. The home side came close to opening the scoring, as Danny Armstrong hit the frame from close range. 50 seconds later, it was advantage Celtic as O'Riley capitalised on a rebounded shot from Callum McGregor. Despite chances at both ends, the visitors headed in at half-time in front.

It was a far different second half, as Kilmarnock pulled in front thanks to a Nat Phillips own goal and a slick counter-attack, which was finished off by Matty Kennedy. A dismal second-half performance from Celtic was punished by the home side, as a lack of opportunities from the visitors allowed Kilmarnock to turn the game on its head.

Celtic made just one change from the side that defeated Hibernian 4-1 at home on Wednesday. Nat Phillips replaced Cameron Carter-Vickers in the defence, though the manager expects him back during the week after coming off injured in the last game. Mikey Johnston was given another chance to impress on the wing, whilst Tomoki Iwata and Oh were preferred ahead of David Turnbull and Kyogo Furuhashi. Luis Palma and O'Riley - the two most creative players statistically for Celtic - both started today's game. Because of Iwata's inclusion, captain McGregor moved up to the number eight position, with the Japanese midfielder deployed just in front of the defence.

With all of that being said, what did The Celtic Way make of today's events in Ayrshire? Our writers have their say...

Celtic blink first 

The title race is well and truly on now as Rodgers' bogey team struck again at Rugby Park. Celtic only have themselves to blame after they dominated the first half and then somehow allowed Kilmarnock to steal the points. That's three down and four to go in the notorious seven league game run in December and Rangers could well be on Celtic's coattails come December 30. Celtic just couldn't cope with the second-half onslaught from the hosts and they wilted as the game wore on. Not only were Killie sharper and hungrier but they fully deserved all three points for their efforts. O'Riley fired a strike wide of the target but that was all that Celtic could muster in a second half that was bossed by the team in blue and white.

Tony Haggerty

O'Riley the sole positive

There is a genuine argument to be had this season regarding O’Riley being Celtic’s best forward. After scoring against Hibs in midweek, there was a feeling that the midfielder was truly back to his best after a slight blip in form recently. He was at it again today, breaking the deadlock after latching onto a rebounded shot from McGregor. Of course, he is more than just a goalscorer, as he patrols most of the pitch in search of possession and ways to influence proceedings. With passes, winning the ball back and the overall determination to make things happen, O’Riley is pivotal to everything that Celtic do, particularly offensively. If he can stay fit – something that has not been an issue – then who knows the numbers that the Denmark cap can get to under Rodgers’ guidance. That contract extension signed a couple of months ago looks more and more like an exceptional piece of business as the days and weeks go on, with his list of potential suitors no doubt growing by the game. Playing with a maturity beyond his years, O’Riley has become arguably Celtic’s most important player over the course of this season, with plenty more to come in the short and medium term, you would imagine. The European Championships in Germany will be on O’Riley’s mind in terms of Celtic, and with showings like this, he has every chance of being on that plane for Denmark in the summer. One of the only positive performances in a dismal day for the club as a whole in Ayrshire.

Ryan McGinlay

Phillips' 15-minute self-destruction

Ironically any reservations the Celtic fans had about Phillips replacing Cameron Carter-Vickers in the starting line-up were being swept away with this display until the 75th minute then it was downhill all the way. Phillips was looking every inch the commanding presence at the back of the pack until he slid in and inadvertently diverted the ball into his net to make it 1-1. The on-loan Liverpool centre-half was embroiled in a good old-fashioned duel with Kilmarnock striker Kyle Vassell which was a brilliant contest to watch as the two men just went at it hammer and tongs. The 26-year-old looked particularly impressive whenever he moved forward with the ball at his feet and several times advanced Celtic 60 yards up the pitch. His distribution was on point at times and up until his own goal he was making a solid contribution as he settled into the heart of the defence with ease alongside Liam Scales. After he scored an own goal he had an error-strewn last quarter of an hour, to say the least. It is a testament to how much Rodgers rates him as he got the nod in this one over the likes of £7.3 million duo Gustaf Lagerbielke and Maik Nawrocki but he won't want to see that howler again or relive his last 15 minutes.

Tony Haggerty

A tale of two Johnston's

Both Johnston's took to the field again in this one and it was Alistair who shone brightly and showed that he is back to his best form. The Canadian produced a goal-line block that had to be believed. Danny Armstrong forced a wonderful save from Joe Hart who tipped his effort to the back post and with the goal gaping Corrie Ndaba had what looked like a tap-in for the equaliser. Johnston who was sprawled on the deck somehow made an incredible clearance as he rolled on his back and threw himself at the ball as he cleared the danger. It was a superb piece of defending and full of ingenuity and quick thinking as he rescued his team from conceding a certain goal. It is the defensive block of the season as nothing will come close to beating it. Mikey on the other hand still flatters to deceive and whilst the Republic of Ireland winger danced and jinked his way down the line far too often, he overshot the runway with his deliveries. Although he laid one on a plate for Oh who fresh aired on the slide when he ought to have scored it was another quiet display from the player when he was given yet another chance to stake a claim to be a regular in the side. At 24 years of age, he has to be more than an impact player for Celtic if he is going to make it at the club.

Tony Haggerty

Striking woes

Few were surprised to see Oh be given a second consecutive start this afternoon ahead of his potential Asia Cup rival in Kyogo. The striker’s brace in midweek displayed all of the positive play that the South Korean can bring to the lone striker role for Celtic, thus he was given the nod for the game at Rugby Park. Oh will be perplexed as to how he did not score in the first half, especially with some of the opportunities that came his way in the opening 45 minutes. What was on show today was a display of rashness from the 22-year-old, as the young striker blazed wide and over the bar on a couple of occasions. There were also a few instances where Oh was close to latching onto the end of some great distributions from his teammates, though he was always a couple of inches too short with regard to getting on the end of any of them. What you can't deny Oh of is hard work and endeavour, as the striker always looks to get stuck in both on the attack and further back when covering for his defenders. As Celtic were chasing the winner, Rodgers decided to go with Kyogo and Oh both up front, as things got desperate for the visitors after conceding an own goal. The two failed to make much of an impact, with Kyogo having the best chance of the two when both were leading the line, his shot saved by Dennis in the Kilmarnock goal. A disappointing showing from Celtic’s striking options, it must be said, which leaves the door wide open for anyone to take the striking spot if they are up to the task.

Ryan McGinlay