25 December 2022

Scottish Premiership’s Christmas weekend sees 22 goals and four red cards

25 December 2022

The pre-Christmas fixture card in the cinch Premiership was typically eventful with 22 goals, four red cards and six penalties as well as several VAR interventions.

Celtic went into Christmas Day nine points clear as the status quo remained in the title race.

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

Hearts’ Tannadice injury curse worsens

Robbie Neilson’s side suffered have now suffered 10 injuries in three away games against Dundee United in 2022 and the worst looks like being the last one after goalkeeper Craig Gordon suffered what appeared to be very serious damage to his leg in a collision with Steven Fletcher.

Hearts also lost Craig Halkett to a knee problem and Stephen Kingsley to a head knock during Saturday’s 2-2 draw. The Jambos had seen Gary Mackay-Steven, Cammy Devlin, Alex Cochrane, John Souttar and Nathaniel Atkinson forced off with injury and Josh Ginnelly hobbling on during their first trip there in March and  Aaron McEneff was forced off early in a game in April.

Rangers keep winning but suffer Steven Davis blow

Michael Beale’s perfect start to his Ibrox reign continued with a 1-0 win over Ross County and a welcome clean sheet but the victory was overshadowed by news that Steven Davis’ season is over. The 37-year-old suffered a knee injury in training in the build-up to the game.

Reo Hatate is not bad at right-back

With Anthony Ralston, Josip Juranovic and impending signing Alistair Johnston unavailable, Japanese midfielder Reo Hatate was handed the Celtic right-back slot. Hatate had some experience of playing left-back in his early career and he took to his new role like a seasoned campaigner, netting twice in a 4-1 win over St Johnstone and only being denied a hat-trick by the post.

Red cards help some but not others

Hibernian saw off 10 men once again as they thrashed Livingston 4-0 following Jason Holt’s early dismissal. Hibs have won five league games at Easter Road this season and the visitors have been reduced to 10 men in four of them.

They also drew with Rangers after John Lundstram was sent off. Motherwell fans, on the other hand, will possibly want their opponents to keep a full quota in future after they squandered a two-goal lead against Kilmarnock by conceding twice in the seven minutes following Alan Power’s dismissal.

They recently lost against Hearts after Jorge Grant was sent off while the game was goalless and were also beaten by 10-man Celtic, although Callum McGregor was ordered off late on.

Are three mini-divisions emerging?

Hibernian’s victory and St Mirren’s eventful 3-1 triumph over third-placed Aberdeen mean there are only two points separating the six teams directly below leaders Celtic and title-chasing Rangers. None of the bottom four won, leaving a five-point gap between the mid-table teams and Motherwell in ninth. The sides in the bottom third will want to force themselves back into the pack to avoid the pressure rising.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox