Celtic go top but Scott Brown dismissal puts captain out of Old Firm match

CELTIC went to the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a narrow but deserved win over Motherwell at Parkhead but saw skipper Scott Brown sent off after picking up two bookings.

• Paddy McCourt celebrates his goal that gave Celtic victory over Motherwell last night and sent the Parkhead side to the top of the league Picture: SNS

Paddy McCourt's first-half strike separated the sides but the home side should have had at least another three in a one-sided first half and in the 89th minute Brown, booked earlier for a foul on Chris Humphrey, received a second yellow for a foul on Stevie Hammell. He will miss Sunday's Old Firm match at Ibrox.

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Celtic are now one point clear of Rangers ahead of Sunday's showdown, although the champions have two games in hand.

The match was watched by Celtic signing target Freddie Ljungberg, the Swedish internationalist who manager Neil Lennon is increasingly hopeful of recruiting, and Stuart McCall, who will be named the new Motherwell manager today.

David Templeton produced two moments of magic to conjure up victory for Hearts at St Mirren as they kept the pressure on the Old Firm.

• Celtic 1 - 0 Mothwerwell: Paddy McCourt magic lifts Celtic to top before deflation of Brown red card

Firstly, the in-form winger teased his way through the middle of a powerless St Mirren defence before netting with a calm finish to put the visitors ahead on 63 minutes.

Then it was another Templeton run which prompted a late hack on him from John Potter which saw the St Mirren defender sent off with nine minutes remaining.

Kevin Kyle stepped up to put away the penalty and secure a victory which leaves Hearts in third place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and the only credible title challenger to Rangers and Celtic.

Paul Hanlon netted an 89th-minute equaliser as Hibernian came from two goals down to rescue a draw against Dundee United at Easter Road.

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David Goodwillie scored after two minutes and tapped in a second after 35 minutes as United appeared set to defy a weather-enforced five-week break.

But after Sol Bamba headed in a 44th-minute equaliser and substitute Danny Swanson was sent off for two bookable offences for the visitors, Hanlon diverted a Danny Galbraith drive to earn Hibs a point.

Kilmarnock leapfrogged Inverness into fourth in the SPL thanks to a dominating 3-1 victory at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium. Captain Craig Bryson opened the scoring for the visitors with a close-range strike after 25 minutes and Liam Kelly doubled the advantage with a point-blank 68th-minute header.

Inverness reduced the deficit when captain Richie Foran's cross was deflected in two minutes later, but Jamie Hamill settled things in 78 minutes when he netted the rebound after his penalty was saved by Ryan Esson.