03 September 2023

5 things we learned from this weekend’s Scottish Premiership action

03 September 2023

Celtic’s 1-0 win over Rangers was undoubtedly the big match of the fourth weekend of the cinch Premiership season.

But there were plenty of talking points elsewhere with late equalisers in Perth and Livingston, controversy in Kilmarnock and big wins for Motherwell and Hibernian.

Here are five things we learned from the weekend’s action.

Michael Beale is under real pressure

Defeat by Celtic at Ibrox took Brendan Rodgers’ side four points clear of their rivals, who have already lost two league games before the first international break. The Rangers supporters turned on Beale and his players in a toxic atmosphere at the end of the game and there will have to be a marked improvement in results if Beale is to win the fans back. With one win in six meetings against Celtic, which came after the title was decided last season, Beale will need to improve that record in a fixture that ultimately decides how his tenure is viewed.

Some things VAR cannot correct

Kilmarnock were left with a huge sense of injustice after referee Kevin Clancy blew for a penalty just as the ball was flying into the net off Stuart Findlay’s head. The referee apologised to Killie manager Derek McInnes for being too quick with his whistle after spotting a shirt pull but the mistake cost Killie a point after Ross Laidlaw saved Danny Armstrong’s spot-kick. Even without the benefit of VAR, Clancy would have been far better waiting to see if an advantage emerged.

David Gray gets a big win

The caretaker manager earned Hibernian only their second win at Pittodrie since 2012. The previous one was achieved by Jack Ross on a night when Hibs clinched third spot in 2021 but Lee Johnson, Shaun Maloney, Paul Heckingbottom, Neil Lennon and Terry Butcher had all failed to win at Aberdeen. The international break will likely allow Hibs to make a permanent appointment but Gray’s win could even tempt the Hibs board to take their time.

St Mirren and Motherwell enjoy the view

Saints moved top of the Premiership table on Saturday night thanks to Stav Nahmani’s last-gasp equaliser at Livingston, which took the Paisley side’s unbeaten run to eight matches. Celtic went back top on Sunday but Motherwell later joined them on 10 points thanks to a 1-0 win at Hearts despite having Paul McGinn sent off. The Steelmen are now unbeaten in 10 Premiership matches and have not lost a league game on the road in more than six months under Stuart Kettlewell.

Liam Scales seizes his chance

The Celtic defender looked likely to move on after a season-long loan at Aberdeen but four injuries to centre-backs saw him catapulted into the team for the first time in 18 months when the Hoops drew with St Johnstone. While his return was underwhelming, his next game will live long in his memory. The Irishman produced a superb display to shut out Rangers at Ibrox and help seal an important victory.

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