Jermain Defoe sends Rangers enroute to help keep Celtic title party on hold
Celtic’s Scottish Premiership title party was placed on hold for the next week after Rangers claimed a snug away win.
Goals from Jermain Defoe, Ryan Jack and Nikola Katic mean Neil Lennon’s champions-elect have to place the champagne on ice, at least until next Saturday’s home game with Kilmarnock.
Celtic, who had been looking to celebrate their eighth straight title against Hibernian on Sunday, have at the moment had their lead at the pinnacle scale back to eight points after Rangers just as before dominated the Scottish Cup finalists.
For the last time this holiday season, Hearts resulted in their unique downfall against Rangers by unable to meet the sunshine Blues’ desire when pressing.
Rangers, who may have now compounded seven straight wins against Hearts, were still without the suspended Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent, while Hearts had to complete a late swap with Craig Wighton ruling within the ill Sean Clare.
As usual, the tight surroundings in Gorgie suitable for a combative affair and there was not much hanging around quickly. Neither side can afford being half-hearted also it was Hearts who paid the cost Quarter-hour in as Wighton allowed Jon Flanagan to slip in and take possession.
Glen Kamara pounced to the loose ball and immediately sent Defoe racing in behind. The veteran striker got his nose facing John Souttar, considered to be Rangers target, and he could relax as Defoe beat Zdenek Zlamal for his seventh Rangers goal.
That did jolt a reply from the home side. Uche Ikpeazu was capable of roll Katic too easily around the edge of the Rangers box but his wild shot soared over. The top frontman then got his drop by Zlamal’s long punt, sending Wighton racing beyond Connor Goldson, but he dragged his attempt wide.
Nine minutes later, Jack hared in close down Ollie Bozanic, stripping the midfielder on the ball on halfway before feeding it to Daniel Candeias. Jack wouldn’t hang about so when he raced beyond Arnaud Djoum his Portuguese colleague returned the ball into his path with only Zlamal to conquer and Jack did the remainder which includes a cool finish.
The remaining portion of the home stands were soon beginning to empty as Katic added number 3 in the 48th minute. Steven Davis rolled this quick corner to Candeias, who hung up a cross on the back post to your big Croatian defender to slide home.
MacLean replaced Wighton midway from the second period and pulled one during 74 minute as his header from Jake Mulraney’s cross found a corner of the online. But it was Rangers who came nearest to adding another as Zlamal was instructed to make two late stops to deny Glenn Middleton and Scott Arfield.
Steven Gerrard was rich in praise for Defoe. “At times were too just a few Alfredo [Morelos] but I’m not astonished at Jermain’s performance. He has got unbelievable quality in case you play the whole which fits Jermain, he will ensure you get goals. You are able to tell defenders are scared to get too near to him owing to his quality.”
His counterpart, Craig Levein, questioned whether his players had switched-off along with their failure to work with tactics properly. “Pressing in terms we tried means you go all in,” he stated. “There’s no fretting about what’s behind you. You simply need go and that we were too safe of what we did. We didn’t commit completely to it as well as the end result is everything you saw.”
Scott McKenna’s header gave Aberdeen a narrow 1-0 wow Kilmarnock, who finished the game with eight men within a fiery contest at Rugby Park.
Killie manager Steve Clarke called referee Steven McLean’s display: “The worst refereeing performance That i’ve ever noticed in my career.”
Killie’s Kirk Broadfoot was shown the red card by McLean inside 36th minute for catching Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis with a backlash in reference to his boot.
The home side fell behind within the 66th minute with McKenna heading inside a Graeme Shinnie corner after which Killie defender Stuart Findlay was sent off for getting your hands on another of two yellow cards for the foul within the Pittodrie captain. Midfielder Rory McKenzie was dismissed in added time right after a uniting with Ball.
Paul McGinn led the scoring as St Mirren took another step off from relegation having a comprehensive 3-1 victory away to Livingston. The Buddies must originated from behind to beat 10-man Livi.
The home side were reduced to 10 men after 17 minutes. Craig Halkett was deemed to obtain denied Brad Lyons a particular goalscoring chance. Inspite of the setback, Livi took charge three minutes later, Scott Robinson and Steven Lawless working in a nice combination before Robinson converted from close in. Second-half goals from Danny Mullen and Simeon Jackson sealed the win that moved Oran Kearney’s St Mirren side to within two points of Hamilton in 10th place and six devoid of bottom side Dundee.
Marios Ogkmpoe struck an 84th-minute equaliser on his first Hamilton appearance almost Calendar year using a serious knee injury as Motherwell threw away two Lanarkshire derby points.
The visitors appeared to be comfortable following David Turnbull’s 10th goal of the season for the half-hour mark, but they also ended the overall game repelling Accies.
St Johnstone’s fourth Tayside derby win of year edged Dundee better relegation.
Saints full-back Scott Tanser struck a 25-yard free-kick after 54 minutes and centre-forward Callum Hendry stooped to head home a Richard Foster cross from close range after 68 minutes.