Michael Beale can build on first Old Firm win – 5 things from cinch Premiership
The latest round of cinch Premiership fixtures kicked off with an Old Firm clash that did not impact the league table but was meaningful nonetheless.
The rest of the games were all significant either in the battle for European places or top-flight survival.
Here are five things we learned from the latest round of action.
Beale gets Celtic monkey off his back
Although it had no bearing on the title race, Rangers’ 3-0 win over champions Celtic at Ibrox was significant for one person in particular. It was Michael Beale’s first win over the treble-chasing Hoops in five attempts since taking over from Giovanni van Bronckhorst as Gers manager last November and was exactly what he needed to alleviate the pressure that was building. The former QPR boss will revamp his squad this summer in an attempt to wrestle the title back to Govan next season.
Celtic come up short in points tally quest
The Hoops were also looking to take full points from their final four games to take them on to 107 points, which would have been a record tally, beating the Celtic team of 2017. However, their second league defeat of the season ended those hopes. Manager Ange Postecoglou was perhaps looking more to next season by giving the likes of Alexandro Bernabei and Oh Hyeon-gyu starts at Ibrox, but there were no instant dividends.
When you are on a roll, you get the breaks
Kevin van Veen became the first Motherwell player to score in eight consecutive top-flight games for 86 years but only after being allowed to take his penalty again when St Johnstone goalkeeper Remi Matthews was punished for edging off his line while saving the initial effort. To give Van Veen his dues, his second – a chipped effort – showed supreme composure. Van Veen’s eight-game roll is the longest run of goalscoring in Scotland’s top flight since Craig Dargo managed the same with Inverness in 2005-06.
The relegation battle gets even more interesting
Dundee United slumped to the bottom after their second post-split defeat as Ross County leapfrogged them with a 3-1 Tannadice win thanks to Jordan White’s hat-trick. Kilmarnock moved out of the bottom two with a 2-0 win over Livingston and moved two points behind their next opponents, St Johnstone, following their 2-0 defeat by Motherwell. Killie can move further up the table when they host the Perth side next weekend. The bottom two are both away from home – County at Fir Park, while United travel to Livi.
No change in the battle for Europe
The four teams still vying for European places drew with each other. Third-placed Aberdeen were the biggest winners as the status quo suits them and goalkeeper Kelle Roos saved a penalty from Kevin Nisbet to maintain their five-point advantage over Hearts. St Mirren were the most disappointed after blowing a two-goal lead against the 10-man Jambos to stay sixth.