March 18, 2023

Celtic rally to keep nine-point lead over Rangers

Celtic came from a goal down to remain nine points clear of Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership after a 3-1 win over 10-man Hibernian on Saturday.

Earlier, Rangers kept up their chase of the defending champions by also coming from behind to win 4-2 at Motherwell.

Hibs had conceded 10 goals in two previous games against Celtic this season but made the hosts work far harder for the three points despite losing Elie Youan to two yellow cards inside 24 minutes.

On a busy day of VAR reviews at Celtic Park, Josh Campbell gave the visitors the lead from the penalty spot after Carl Starfelt was penalised for holding Paul Hanlon.

It was roles reversed after the break as Hanlon gave away a similar spot-kick, which Jota converted to equalise.

But it took Celtic until nine minutes from time to go in front when South Korean striker Oh Hyeon-Gyu escaped his marker to head in a corner.

Substitute Sead Haksabanovic added a third goal in stoppage time as Celtic stretched their winning run to 14 games in all competitions.

“There was a fair bit going on the whole game and we couldn’t really get into any sort of rhythm or flow,” said Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou on a series of delays for VAR reviews.

“After half-time the lads cleared their heads and understood what we needed to do, trying to make it about the football and do what we’ve been doing all season. They got their rewards.”

Rangers fell behind to Kevin van Veen’s early opener at Fir Park before James Tavernier equalised with a fine free-kick.

Zambia striker Fashion Sakala headed the visitors in front, but Motherwell substitute Bevis Mugabi equalised in a quick-fire exchange of goals in the second half.

Todd Cantwell restored Rangers’ lead with his first goal since joining from Norwich in January and Malik Tillman grabbed the visitors’ fourth.

Motherwell’s Callum Slattery was sent off in the second half for two bookings in an action-packed clash that took place amid protests from the Rangers support.

The away fans held up banners with the faces of Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson and managing director Stewart Robertson on them, crossed out with a red stripe, saying “Time for Change”.

“I understand, it’s their life. They’re voicing their frustration. I’d just like them to support the team,” said Rangers boss Michael Beale.

“It’s not easy to play in that environment when that’s in the air. I’d like them to show a little bit of trust if they can because I think there are good days ahead.”

Aberdeen leapfrogged Hibs into fourth after blowing Hearts away with three first-half goals to win 3-0 at Pittodrie.

Luis Lopes’s double and a header from Mattie Pollock boosted caretaker manager Barry Robson’s chances of landing the job permanently.

Livingston climbed into the top six with a 2-1 win over Ross County.

Dundee United and Kilmarnock remain in relegation trouble after being held 1-1 at home by St Mirren and St Johnstone repsectively.