• SPL round-up

Celtic second string too good for Inverness

ESPN staff
February 9, 2013
Inverness 1-3 Celtic

Celtic warmed up for their Champions League tie against Juventus with an easy win on Saturday, while Kilmarnock and Dundee United also picked up three points in the SPL.

A makeshift Celtic side cruised to a 3-1 victory over Inverness at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium to go 18 points clear of the Highlanders at the top of table.

Nick Ross gave Caley the lead in the ninth minute only for Hoops midfielder Kris Commons to level in the 20th minute with the sweetest of left-footed strikes. Three minutes into the second half debutant Rami Gershon headed the champions into the lead before Miku grabbed a third in the 82nd minute as the visitors ran out easy winners.

However, for the Parkhead club, the game was less about cementing their place at the top of the table and more about the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Juventus at Parkhead on Tuesday night.

As promised, Neil Lennon rang the changes although No. 1 keeper Fraser Forster was back after recovering from a neck injury and handed the captaincy in the absence of Scott Brown.

Israel centre-back Gershon, on loan until the end of the season from Standard Liege, and Australian midfielder Tom Rogic, who signed from Central Coast Mariners, were two of nine changes to the side that beat Raith Rovers in the William Hill Scottish Cup last week.

Defender Marcus Fraser started in the SPL for the first time while there were rare starts for Paddy McCourt, Dylan McGeouch and Miku.

In the end, Celtic's victory with what was effectively a reserve side was convincing and while it may not frighten Juventus, it looks ominous for the rest of Scottish football for the forthcoming years.

Inverness' defeat handed Motherwell the chance to move second in the table, but they were beaten 2-0 by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on a day when they finished with nine men. Steven Hammell's 13th-minute own goal opened the scoring, before William Gros killed the game off for the home side deep into the second period. Fraser Kerr and Keith Lasley then saw red late on as the visitors lost their cool.

Ten-man Aberdeen survived the dismissal of Mark Reynolds for two bookable offences to earn a share of the points from a 0-0 draw with St Mirren. They had keeper Jamie Langfield to thank, however, for the fine save he made from St Mirren's in-form striker Esmael Goncalves in the dying stages, with the game teetering towards the Saints.

Elsewhere, Dundee United got the better of Hearts, winning 3-1 at Tannadice Park. Johnny Russell struck after two minutes for the home side, before Ryan Stevenson was sent off midway through the opening period for a poor challenge. Willo Flood doubled the lead on the hour with Michael Gardyne adding a third after Michael Ngoo had given Hearts hope 18 minutes from time.

In the Third Division, Rangers cemented their dominance at the top of the table, beating second-place Queen's Park 4-0 at Ibrox. Ian Black, Andrew Little(2) and Dean Shiels supplied the goals - all in the second half.

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