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5 things we learned from this weekend’s cinch Premiership action

Celtic v St Johnstone – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Rangers returned to within six points of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership with a 4-0 win at St Mirren where Kemar Roofe scored a hat-trick.

The league is now set for five exciting post-split fixtures after the weekend’s football separated the clubs into top and bottom six.

Here, PA media looks at the action from Saturday and Sunday.

Roofe caves in for St Mirren

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Questions have been asked about Rangers’ ability to find the net in the absence of injured striker Alfredo Morelos. Roofe responded with a hat-trick against the Buddies in Paisley which brought a welcome win
for Giovanni Van Bronckhorst following two defeats. The former Leeds striker will be key for the Light Blues this week as they face Braga in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final at Ibrox on Thursday night – they are 1-0 down from the first leg- before taking on Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park next Sunday.

Celtic with a magnificent seven

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Ange Postecoglou’s side do not look like slipping up in their bid to wrest the title from Ibrox. Celtic were in scintillating form in Saturday’s 7-0 thrashing of St Johnstone at Parkhead. Goals from Reo Hatate, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda effectively gave a relentless Hoops side all three points by the interval. Josip Juranovic added a fourth from the spot early in the second half and Matt O’Riley scored twice in three minutes before fellow substitute Liel Abada fired in a seventh and it was a true reflection on Celtic’s superiority and their hunger to win the league.

Halliday gets revenge on Hibees

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Hearts midfielder Andy Halliday has been mercilessly goaded by Hibernian supporters ever since the 2016 Scottish Cup final when he scored to put Rangers 2-1 ahead and then celebrated with a gesture that implied he felt the game was over, only for the Easter Road side to roar back and win 3-2. In the early stages of Saturday’s Edinburgh derby, Halliday was once again taunted by the away support as Hibs led 1-0 at Tynecastle, but this time he had the last laugh as he scored a double to help Hearts to a 3-1 win that sealed third place and consigned the Hibees to playing the rest of the season in the bottom six.

Hibs face test of character

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For anyone present at Tynecastle for Hearts’ 3-1 win, it would be hard to make a strong case for Hibs being able to rouse themselves enough to try to gain revenge in this weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final rematch at Hampden. The Hibees started well, but once Hearts started to get a hold of the game, the visitors looked meek and incapable of regaining the initiative. Apart from the return of defender Ryan Porteous from suspension, Maloney is not exactly blessed with many appealing options as he seeks to freshen things up and ensure his team are more competitive at the national stadium.

Drama all over the country

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Elsewhere, Motherwell’s last-gasp equaliser at Livingston put them into the top half of the table and sent the Lions down. Ross County’s 1-0 win at Aberdeen  saw the Staggies get into the top half with the Dons falling short. Bottom side Dundee got a point in their derby against Dundee United but Tam Courts side remain in the top six. St Johnstone’s heavy defeat at Parkhead means they are five points ahead of Dundee and six behind St Mirren and Aberdeen so there is plenty to play for in the battle to avoid the drop.

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