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Scottish Premiership weekend

  Sunday 21st August 2011

Rangers coasted past Motherwell 3-0, with goals from Steven Naismith, Kyle Lafferty and Gregg Wylde securing victory for Ally McCoist’s men, and go to the top of the SPL.

But Celtic were left reeling after a crushing home defeat to St Johnstone, with David MacKay grabbing the only goal of the match on the hour mark for the visitors’ first win at Celtic Park since 1999. Elsewhere, Kilmarnock and Hearts fought out a goalless draw at Rugby Park and Aberdeen grabbed their first win of the season with a 2-1 home win over Inverness. New boys Dunfermline continued to impress with a fine 1-0 away win over Dundee Utd.

Rangers won 3-0 thanks to the goals of Naismith, Lafferty and Wylde.

Rangers won 3-0 thanks to the goals of Naismith, Lafferty and Wylde.

St Mirren moved up to fifth as they inflicted Hibernian’s fourth consecutive home defeat in a 2-1 win at Easter Road.

After their midweek blues following another defeat in Europe, Rangers lifted spirits with a fine three-goal victory over a previously unbeaten Motherwell. The champions were unable to field new recruits Carlos Bocanegra, Alejandro Bedoya and Matt McKay due to a lack of visas for the trio. With injuries and suspension robbing Ally McCoist of 13 players, Rangers were forced to field raw youngsters Jordon McMillan and Ross Perry at the back.

Motherwell went into the fixture having yet to concede a goal in four competitive matches and were unchanged for a third time in a row. The game started brightly with Motherwell dominating possession. Rangers always looked the most likely to win and on the 20 minute mark Steven Naismith fortuitously headed home the opener for Rangers after Nikica Jelavic superbly knocked a Steven Davis cross towards goal. Juanma Ortiz then set up Kyle Lafferty for the second before half-time. Gregg Wylde then ran half the length of the pitch on the counter-attack to finish Motherwell off with a fine third goal with five minutes remaining.

But the weekend’s big shock came at Celtic Park as St Johstone secured a heroic victory over a wasteful Celtic in a hard-fought 1-0 win. Early signs pointed to more success for Celtic as they started the better side with constant pressure on the visitors’ goal. Celtic were awarded a penalty after only three minutes after Peter Enckleman was adjudged to have fouled Anthony Stokes. Kris Common missed the resulting spot-kick, opening the floodgates of missed opportunities for Celtic in the first-half, the best of which coming from a Commons free-kick which smacked against the post five minutes before the break. The second half started as the first ended with Celtic coming close; Commons again central to the hosts’ attacking play. St Johnstone took a shock lead on the hour mark through a Dave MacKay volley. Celtic then laid siege to the visitors’ goal, but St Johnstone held their nerve with strong resistance to net their first win of the season.

Aberdeen finally achieved their first three points of the season with a nervous win over Inverness who are now bottom of the SPL. Rob Milson slid in to convert a ball from Josh Magennis for Aberdeen’s first goal of the season after only 12 minutes. Scott Vernon then added a second for The Dons on the half-hour mark. Richie Foran grabbed a late goal for Inverness to ensure a nervous last 10 minutes for the hosts but they held on, rousing rare celebrations from the home support.

Hearts returned to domestic duty, after a miserable 5-0 home thrashing to Tottenham in the Europa League, with a gritty goalless encounter with Kilmarnock. The hosts threatened Hearts, with free-kick specialist James Dayton going close. Steven Elliot hit the bar for Hearts with a powerful header before half-time. The second half was more rigid than the first with Hearts coming closest to scoring, Danny Grainger and Ryan Stevenson forcing Killie keeper Cammy Bell into a smart double save.

Hibernian continued their lacklustre start to the campaign with an agonising defeat to St Mirren. Garry O’Connor shot from deep inside the penalty area to open the scoring for Hibs. Jeroen Tesselaar and Steven Thompsn then combined twice before half-time to leave the home support shattered.

Dundee Utd’s recent slump continued as they lost 1-0 at home to Dunfermline in a close encounter. The hosts were left cursing their luck as they came up against an inspired Paul Gallacher who made a brilliant triple save to deny Jon Daly, Willo Flood and David Robertson in the first half. Dunfermline offered little as an attacking threat but with five minutes remaining in the mach Paul Burns fired the winner to maintain the visitors’ unbeaten start to the season.

 Leslie Porter

Results

Celtic 0 St Johnstone 1

Motherwell 0 Rangers 3

Kilmarnock 0 Hearts 0

Aberdeen 2 Inverness 1

Dundee Utd 0 Dunfermline 1

Hibernian 1 St Mirren 2

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