A MAGNIFICENT headed goal by their No.5 with 67 minutes on the clock gave Celtic a poignant victory that takes them to the brink of their eighth consecutive Scottish title on the day they celebrated the life of Billy McNeill.

The Glasgow club struggled to break down a Kilmarnock team who have caused them so many problems in the last couple of seasons and looked to be in danger of dropping points for the second week running.

But Jozo Simunovic, who wears the same number as McNeill did throughout his career, got on the end of a Callum McGregor cross after 67, the year the legendary Parkhead captain had lifted the European Cup in Lisbon, minutes had elapsed and headed home.

It was a stunning goal which the former Scotland defender, who was renowned for his aerial ability and is remembered for the headers he scored, would have been proud of himself.

The hard-fought and important win was a fitting tribute to the 79-year-old who passed away on Easter Monday after a lengthy illness. Simunovic turned and pointed to the heavens after netting.

If Rangers, who are now 12 points adrift with four games remaining, draw or lose to Aberdeen at Ibrox tomorrow then their city rivals will win the Ladbrokes Premiership for the eighth season in a row and edge one step closer to an unprecedented triple treble.

Interim Celtic manager Neil Lennon made two changes to the side which had drawn 0-0 with Hibernian at Easter Road six days earlier – Tom Rogic and Scott Sinclair came in for Olivier Ntcham and Jonny Hayes respectively.

Kirk Broadfoot and Stuart Findlay were both absent from the visitors’ line-up after being sent off against Aberdeen last week. Rory McKenzie, who had the red card he received downgraded to a yellow on appeal, found himself on the bench. Youssouf Mulumbu, meanwhile, was unable to face his parent club.

Clarke brought in Alex Bruce at the back, Aaron Tshibola and Liam Miller in midfield and Conor McAleney up front and fielded a 4-4-2 formation.

Kilmarnock had a strong claim for a penalty ignored by referee Willie Collum in the 14th minute after Celtic captain Scott Brown appeared to barge over their right back Stephen O’Donnell in his area.

The Ayrshire club created by far the better scoring chances in the opening 45 minutes and their Glasgow rivals had their keeper Scott Bain to thank for keeping them on level terms. The Scotland man produced three excellent saves from Chris Burke, Miller, and McAleny after his defence was repeatedly cut open.

Kristoffer Ajer was caught in possession by Eamonn Brophy in the 27th minute, but the big Norwegian centre half immediately redeemed himself by getting back and producing a perfectly-timed goal-saving tackle on the striker.

Kilmarnock were, in the absence of Broadfoot and Findlay, forced to field a makeshift defence. Dicker dropped back and formed a new centre back partnership with Bruce. But they restricted Celtic to long-range shots from outside the penalty box.

The first shot that Lennon’s charges got on target came six minutes before half-time and Daniel Bachmann dealt with Mikael Lustig’s effort easily.

Kilmarnock continued to threaten in the second-half and Bain again did well to deny Brophy and then, after Lustig had given away the ball with a slack crossfield pass on the edge of his area, Burke.

Celtic couldn’t be faulted for effort and they pushed upfield continuously in a search for an openers. Bachmann denied Callum McGregor in the 59th minute and then shortly after that O’Donnell cleared the ball off his goal line with Odsonne Edouard waiting to pounce.

Simunovic, who has enjoyed a new lease of life under interim manager Lennon, made no mistake after being supplied by McGregor with 22 minutes remaining.