The scenes of euphoria that followed the final whistle at Rugby Park yesterday told everything you need to know about Celtic’s year of living dangerously.
The last-minute, 30-yard strike from Tom Rogic was certainly stupendous. It was also certainly stupendously important in ensuring that Ronny Deila’s side could not be removed by Aberdeen from the summit of the Premiership – and that the Norwegian couldn’t be flailed for, another, potentially cataclysmic failure.
But heck and feck, were the celebrations from Deila and his players over the top, after an impoverished performance wherein they were more than matched by the set-up second-bottom team?
On a Celtic victory parade, strips were hurled into the travelling support and expletives were hurled from the Celtic manager as he performed the so-called Ronny Roar for the first time since last October. In a fashion, indeed, he as good as described as orgasmic… even while stopping short of using the actual word. If Sky were forced to apologise for Deila’s exhortations of “yes, yes, yes… f***ing yes”, Deila was in no mood to do so.
“You can’t control your emotions – or the words in those times. But I don’t think I am the only one in Britain who has been caught saying those words,” he said.
He put the roar’s return down to the fans being “fantastic” in standing with their team to the end. Truth is they would have ramped up their roars for his end, but for Rogic’s rip-snorter that he had earlier gilded the lily over: “It was a glimpse of magic in the last minute and in these games, when you win like that – and I’ve done it sometimes in my life – you remember it for the rest of your life.”
In fairness, the Australian admitted he “won’t forget it any time soon”. Chucked on with 11 minutes remaining, no goal looked like arriving – though Kilmarnock had a couple of breaks and efforts – until the midfielder received a pass inside from Callum McGregor, swivelled round Julien Faubert and unleashed a glorious rising drive that curled in at the right-hand corner of Jamie MacDonald’s goal as if a magnetic force was pulling in there.
It’s hard to think there will be a better goal this season. Or perhaps in the 23-year-old’s career. “I don’t think I’ve scored a better goal,” said Rogic, who confessed to hoping the strike helped him get his contract talks moving along. “It’s massive, a very important goal for the club given the circumstances. I was just delighted to change the outcome by having an influence. It doesn’t always go like that.”
Things seem to go like that for new Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark, whose team have taken only one point and scored two goals in his five matches in charge. The Geordie seemed near to tears at the injustice perpetrated on his team. They didn’t create much, aside from Kris Boyd drawing a top-class reflex save early on, but broke forward intelligently and put bodies on the line to prevent their goal being threatened on many occasions. Erik Sviatchenko had a header cleared off the line by Faubert in the second period, and was twice off target with the goal seeming at his mercy from two more in the first period.
While Kilmarnock had drive and purpose, Celtic were laboured, Deila conceding they had not played well “at all”. Clark could hardly contain himself over the bitterest of ends for his team. “Galling really because if any team deserved to win the game it was us,” he said.
“I have experienced defeats in my time as a player and a coach and manager but that’s probably the hardest one I’ve ever had to take.
“Sometimes you have to hold your hands up when a world-class goal goes into the top corner from 30 yards.”