Four first-half goals signalled the visitors’ intent, who only needed a draw to clinch their fourth title in 10 years. Charlie Mulgrew was the hero as he opened the scoring after seven minutes with a powerful header in the six-yard box from Ki Sung-Yeung’s corner.
Both sides started in a determined fashion, with the visitors keen to avoid a repeat performance of their shock Scottish Cup defeat to Kilmarnock earlier this month.
Ten minutes after Mulgrew’s opening goal, Kilmarnock’s creaking defence was exposed again. Mulgrew was once again the architect, as he set up Dutchman Glenn Loovens who headed in to make it 2-0. Memories of that up final defeat were quickly forgotten.
The second goal prompted jubilant scenes amongst the visiting fans at Rugby Park as Celtic’s pressure continued. Mulgrew once again made a nuisance of himself in attack, as he cut inside Harkins with ease before firing a beautiful curling ball into the bottom of the net to make it three.
A minute before the break, Celtic heaped yet more misery on the home side, as Mulgrew crossed for Gary Hooper to tap in from close range for his 17th league goal this season.
After a handful of half-time changes, Kilmarnock looked revitalised and began to threaten. Liam Kelly, handed his first start since his father’s death, blasted the ball over the crossbar.
Gary Harkins also had a shot on goal, but sent a drive into the side-netting. James Fowler fired over then shot straight at Fraser Forster as Kilmarnock attempted to reduce the deficit, but Forster’s record of 18th clean sheets this season never really looked under threat.
At the other end of the pitch, Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell had a busy afternoon. Mulgrew made him work hard again as he saved a header on the line from a Celtic corner before deftly punching over a stunning, curling free-kick from Ki. To round off a difficult afternoon, he was later stretchered off after a painful collision with Loovens following the Dutchman’s storming run towards goal.
With the championship already wrapped up and just two minutes of normal time remaining, Celtic remained ruthless and unrelenting in attack. Joe Ledley skipped through Kilmarnock’s defence to add his name to the score sheet as he chipped in from close range.
And immediately after the restart, Hooper claimed his second with a beautiful half-volley from 18 yards to send the visiting fans into raptures. A crushing defeat on the final day of the season is an all-too-familiar situation for Kilmarnock, who will be reminded of the 5-1 thrashing handed to them by Rangers last season.