Celtic clear as Aberdeen move into second, Week 26 round-up

ScottishPrem

The Premiership returned, after the Scottish Cup took centre stage last weekend. It was pretty much the status quo concerning results as the top three continued their winning form.

Celtic put their cup exit behind them, as they demolished a hapless St Johnstone side 3-0 at Parkhead, to maintain their 21-point lead. The three points where secured as Anthony Stokes bagged himself a hat-trick. Just 16 minutes in, the Irishman had his first of the afternoon. Strike partner Leigh Griffiths fed the ball to Stokes, who in turn fired the ball past a helpless Mannus in the visitors’ goal. Kris Commons who is widely suggested to be favourite for Player of the Year, smacked the post before the break. Stokes came close to his second, but his free-kick went wide. It didn’t take him long to seal the win and the match ball. His two goals in two minutes did the trick. He beat Mannus again after latching onto Scott Brown’s dinked pass, which Stokes coolly controlled and finished on the turn. Stokes’ third came just two minutes later as he beat Mannus again at his 18-yard line to complete an easy afternoon for himself and his side.

Second in the table, Aberdeen ground out a 1-0 away at St Mirren, in a match that was not the best of the season to put it politely. The first half was utterly dreadful for both sides; it was only in the second half that the game came to some form of life. Steven Thompson almost gave the home side a lead after a nice one-two, which allowed Kenny McLean to cross for the former Rangers striker, but his effort went just wide. Andrew Considine came close from a corner for Aberdeen before they got the winner 10 minutes from time. Peter Pawlett was impeded by Eric Djemba-Djemba in the area, leaving the ref with no other option than to point to the spot. Adam Rooney stepped up and slotted home to keep the Dons’ winning run going. St Mirren had a goal through Darren McGregor disallowed and Gregg Wylde squandered a late chance against his former side. Shortly the referee did everyone a favour and blew the full-time whistle.

That left Motherwell who are chasing Aberdeen, needing three points at home to Partick Thistle at home. The two sides played out a seven-goal thriller at Fir Park. With the home side grabbing two late goals to condemn Thistle to another defeat. Kallum Higginbotham a former Motherwell player was the visitors’ best player on the day. It was his run at the Motherwell rearguard, which caused panic and allowed Chris Erskine to put Thistle in front. Motherwell got an equaliser just before the break when Lasley’s shot deflected off Higginbotham and into the corner of the net. Motherwell went in front for the first time, after some good play by McFadden, speedster Lionel Ainsworth fired the ball beyond Gallacher. Ainsworth turned from hero to villain, when he upended Taylor-Sinclair in the box. Higginbotham stepped up slammed the ball down the middle to level things at 2-2. Not long after the magnificent Higginbotham went on a direct solo run, which ended with him finding the net for the second time. Thistle were now 3-2 ahead going into the final stages, as it all went wrong for them in the last five minutes. Sutton headed Ainsworth’s corner home to level things yet again. With only two minutes left, Motherwell threw everything forward in the search for the winner. It came via Stephen McMannus who headed Hammell’s cross home to the delight of the Fir Park fans.

Inverness are still looking for their first league win since John Hughes took the reins. The latest disappointment came at home to Hearts when a combination of the woodwork, some magnificent goalkeeping from Jamie MacDonald, and some last-ditch defending kept that stat intact. MacDonald had to pull off save after save to deny Caley throughout the afternoon. They also hit the woodwork no fewer than four times. Marley Watkins, David Raven, Billy McKay and Greg Tansey were all out of luck. It’s a good confidence-building point for Hearts who welcome Celtic to Tynecastle next week.

Hearts’ Edinburgh rivals Hibs, bounced back from their cup exit moving closer to a top-six place after beating Ross County by the odd goal in three. After a good opening to the game, the home side took the lead through a magnificent free-kick from youngster Stanton with just 10 minutes on the clock. Midway through the first half Hibs doubled their lead when Danny Haynes laid the ball off to Tom Taiwo for the Englishman to fire home. With 25 minutes to go in the second period Richard Brittain had his turn to follow Stanton’s lead by firing a 25-yard free-kick past Ben Williams. Hibs could have increased their lead but two goals in the first half were enough to seal the points.

Dundee United stopped their recent slump in form by winning a five-goal thriller at home to Kilmarnock. Gary Mackay-Steven gave the home side the lead when the winger raced onto a long ball before calmly picking his spot beyond Samson – who was stranded in the Killie goal. Killie restored parity before the break as a headed ball forward arrived at the feet of Finnish international Alexi Eremenko, who on the turn unleashed an unstoppable shot beyond Cierznak – which will be a contender for goal of the season. It was Killie who took the lead after the break, king goalscorer Kris Boyd beat United’s Polish ‘keeper to the ball, and somehow Robertson failed to clear it off the line, it bounced over the left-back’s head and into an empty net. Although, they only had the lead for a minute. Curtis Good levelled when he headed Mackay-Steven’s corner past Samson. That would prove the catalyst for the home side to go on and get the victory, good work from Nadir Ciftci allowed Rankin to slam the ball home from close range and give United a much-needed victory.

RESULTS

Celtic 3-0 St Johnstone

St Mirren 0-1 Aberdeen

Motherwell 4-3 Partick Thistle

Inverness CT 0-0 Hearts

Hibs 2-1 Ross County

Dundee United 3-2 Kilmarnock

STANDINGS

140220 - Scottish Premiership

Table courtesy of Fifa.com

JamieCurrie

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