Tuesday 18 December 2018

Aberdeen gatecrash Celtic's title party

Celtic celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership. Photo: PA
Celtic celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership. Photo: PA

Roddy Forsyth

A ridiculously eventful climax to the Scottish Premiership schedule saw Celtic, Aberdeen, Hibernian and Rangers embroiled in a spectacular resolution of the final league placings.

Celtic's seventh successive title party duly proceeded at a packed Parkhead, but only after they had lost at home to Scottish opponents for the first time since Brendan Rodgers became Hoops manager in the summer of 2016.

The setback was inflicted by Aberdeen, for whom Andrew Considine's 47th-minute goal ended a lamentable run of 25 consecutive defeats over 14 years of visits to the east end of Glasgow.

Hence the visitors' celebrations after the final whistle, although these were marred somewhat when Shay Logan was shown a post-match red card for his part in an altercation with Mikael Lustig.

Considine's contribution also guaranteed the Dons the runners-up spot for the fourth year in a row and quashed Rangers' hopes of a second-place finish to an otherwise dispiriting season.

Within 22 minutes of their visit to Easter Road, Rangers looked on the verge of a humiliation as great as those inflicted by Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final and the title clincher last month.

With Hibernian 3-0 ahead, there seemed to be a significant chance that Neil Lennon's charges could get to 6-0 - the scoreline required to displace the Ibrox side from third place in the table.

Instead, Rangers fought back to level terms and then, astoundingly, scored two more to lead 5-3.

Hibs pulled a goal back and, with five minutes remaining, Rangers were reduced to 10 men when Jason Holt was shown a second yellow card for a needless foul on John McGinn.

Easter Road was in a ferment as the contest moved into six minutes of stoppage time, midway through which Jamie Maclaren completed his hat-trick to amazingly make it 5-5.

Lennon finished his season by being sent off for running on to the pitch to gesture towards the Rangers supporters after the equaliser and his grinning departure did not suggest contrition.

"I was getting a bit of stick from the Rangers support so I gave them some back," he said.

For Rangers, the most significant consequence of the afternoon's results is that Steven Gerrard's first competitive game in charge at Ibrox will be the first leg of the Europa League first qualifying round on July 12.

Hibs now need Celtic to beat Motherwell in the Scottish Cup final on Saturday if they are to feature in Europe next season.

Irish Independent

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