06 August 2023

5 things we learned from the opening round of Scottish Premiership action

06 August 2023

Rangers suffered a shock defeat away to Kilmarnock on the opening weekend of the cinch Premiership season, while Hibernian and Aberdeen also started the campaign with frustrating results.

Brendan Rodgers kicked off his second spell in charge of Celtic with a victory, while there were winning starts for Hearts and St Mirren.

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

David Turnbull stakes his Celtic claim

The former Motherwell midfielder was handed his first league start in almost nine months when Rodgers picked his first team for a competitive Celtic match since returning as manager. Turnbull seized his opportunity with two goals and would have had another if it had not been for a double stop from Ross Laidlaw. Rodgers challenged the 24-year-old to continue working hard off the ball and make the most of his chance.

It never rains but it pours

The Scottish football season closed in farcical fashion last term as torrential rain led to a major delay in Scotland’s win over Georgia. And the wet weather also delayed the start of the Premiership campaign in Perth as water got into the electrics and led to the VAR technology failing initially before Hearts’ win against St Johnstone. Dens Park was also affected as Dundee’s draw with Motherwell was briefly held up to clear a massive puddle from near the corner flag.

Rangers still looking to find their groove

Michael Beale deployed an all-new front trio of Sam Lammers, Abdallah Sima and Cyriel Dessers at Rugby Park and Brazilian striker Danilo would come on later for his debut. But Rangers only managed four shots on target in their 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock. Rangers only failed to score on two occasions in the Premiership last season and already find themselves chasing Celtic.

Killie signal their intent

One of Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes’ pre-season ambitions was to take something off the Old Firm and that was achieved on the opening day against Rangers. Midfielder Brad Lyons scored only his second goal for Killie after 65 minutes and the hard-working home side held out at Rugby Park with a degree of comfort. It was an early confidence-booster for the revamped Ayrshire outfit who battled at the wrong end of the table for most of last season.

Hearts steal an early march on Dons and Hibs

Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen have all enjoyed third-placed finishes over the past three seasons and the trio of big city clubs are widely expected to battle it out for the ‘best of the rest’ tag behind Celtic and Rangers this time round. All three kicked off the campaign with fixtures against teams that finished beneath them last term, but Hearts were the only side to emerge victorious after a 2-0 triumph at St Johnstone. Aberdeen and their huge away support were left frustrated by a 0-0 draw at Livingston, while Hibs suffered a demoralising 3-2 home defeat by St Mirren.

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