Celtic suffered their second defeat of the season at Rugby Park as Kilmarnock claimed a 1-0 win to see their lead in the Ladbrokes Premiership cut to eight points. Here are five things we learned from the weekend’s action.
Celtic’s injury problems have mounted up
The Hoops’ 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock cost more than three points. Injuries to central defenders Dedryck Boyata (groin) and Kristoffer Ajer (ankle) were further blows to their central defence with recent signing Marvin Compper already out with a calf strain and ineligible for their upcoming Europa League tie against Zenit St Petersburg in any case. Craig Gordon, Leigh Griffiths, Jonny Hayes, Tom Rogic, Anthony Ralston, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts and Mikael Lustig were also missing at Rugby Park.
Nadir Ciftci can get among the goals for Motherwell
The on-loan Celtic striker found the net for the first time since May 2016, when he was on loan in Turkish football. The former Dundee United forward used his strength and experience to roll Niall Keown before firing an emphatic finish to earn Motherwell a point against Partick Thistle. Ciftci is still lacking match sharpness and not everything he tried came off but he showed plenty of endeavour and is sure to get better as the weeks progress.
New-look Rangers are still far from the finished article
Graeme Murty has been lauded for his impressive record against top-six opposition since taking over the Gers reigns but that run came to a shuddering halt on Saturday as Hibernian ransacked Ibrox with a smash-and-grab display. They gave the Light Blues all manner of headaches before the break and grabbed a deserved opener through John McGinn. And just when the hosts thought they had grabbed at least a point with Sean Goss’ free-kick, Jamie MacLaren made them think again as he rammed home a penalty to seal victory. Rangers started with three of their January signings and threw on the other two with 20 minutes left but on this evidence further improvements will have to be made if they are to capitalise on the kind of slip-up Celtic made at Rugby Park.
Staggies alive and kicking
It’s been a tough old season for Ross County, and they travelled to Dundee without a win since the start of November and seriously looking down the barrel of relegation. If they are to pull off a miraculous escape, they will need more brilliance from Alex Schalk and Davis Keillor-Dunn, who were instrumental in the 4-1 win. Schalk has now hit four goals in two games, and Keillor-Dunn showed glimpses of his ability which if he can produce on a more consistent basis, the Staggies have a real chance on closing the three-point gap at the bottom.
Saints’ worrying slip continues
It is perhaps premature to consider St Johnstone as potential candidates for the drop, but their form of late suggests otherwise. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Tynecastle made it five without a win in the league, stretching back to before Christmas, and the pressure seems to be getting to manager Tommy Wright. Last week he was highly critical of his players, and this week he blamed referee Andrew Dallas for the decision to send off David Wotherspoon. After failing to bring the desired players in in January, Wright will have to focus on turning the fortunes of this squad around.