05 February 2023

5 things we learned from another exciting weekend of cinch Premiership action

05 February 2023

Another exciting cinch Premiership weekend came to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon with Celtic winning 4-1 at St Johnstone.

The Hoops moved back nine points ahead of Rangers, who beat Ross County 2-1 on Saturday, at the top of the table.

There were also victories for Aberdeen, Livingston, Hearts and Hibernian.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five things we learned from the weekend’s action.

Celtic not letting up in quest to retain title

Rangers applied some pressure to the champions with their win over Ross County on Saturday but this Celtic side are made of stern stuff.  It took only 13 minutes at McDiarmid Park to take the lead when Saints defender Andrew Considine turned a Kyogo Furuhashi cross into his own net. The Japan striker added a second with a fine finish soon afterwards before wide man Drey Wright pulled a goal back, only for Hoops midfielder Aaron Mooy to restore Celtic’s two-goal lead before the break. Considine was sent off by referee David Dickinson in added time, allowing fellow substitute David Turnbull to fire in the fourth following a short free-kick as a powerful Celtic side regained their nine-point lead over Rangers at the top of the table.

Rangers’ run continues but luck required

Michael Beale’s side certainly had enough possession and chances against Ross County at Ibrox on Saturday but it was a struggle before they emerged with a 2-1 win. The Light Blues missed several opportunities before early substitute Malik Tillman put them ahead with a header in first-half added time but striker Jordan White levelled in the 65th minute with a header. It took a deflected free-kick from left-back Borna Barisic to clinch the points as the Govan side remain on the chase of leaders Celtic. Beale has won 11 and drawn one of his 12 games in charge of Rangers but it was less than convincing.

Motherwell’s misery continues

Nothing is going right for Well boss Steven Hammell despite radically revamping his squad in the January transfer window. The 3-1 defeat by Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday left woeful Well with only one win in 15 league games. Managerless Aberdeen, themselves on the search for form, took the lead through a Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes header before Bojan Miovski scored twice in five second-half minutes, with Kevin van Veen scoring a consolation penalty. The Fir Park side are languishing in second bottom, above Dundee United on goal difference and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

Nouble shows why he is Livingston’s highly-rated attacker

David Martindale had to be patient but was rewarded when Joel Nouble made his first start since mid-November after recovering from injury to be key to Livingston’s 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at the Tony Macaroni Arena. The striker headed the Lions ahead from close range in the ninth minute before Bruce Anderson doubled the home side’s lead soon afterwards. Nouble turned provider in the 28th minute when he set up midfielder Stephen Kelly to score a wonderful volley and there was no doubt that the points were staying in West Lothian.

Hearts’ quality shining through

Hearts have surged clear in third place since the World Cup break and their run of form is underpinned by the number of high-quality goals they have been scoring. Barrie McKay has netted a couple of brilliant strikes, Josh Ginnelly has had some emphatic finishes, Toby Sibbick netted a stunning breakaway goal against Hibs and on Saturday against Dundee United the Jambos came up with two more excellent goals to put 10-man Dundee United to bed. One was a magnificent team effort finished off by Alex Cochrane and the other was an audacious finish by Stephen Humphrys from just inside his own half which manager Robbie Neilson billed as Scotland’s goal of the season.

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