Mick Beale is a cosy appointment when Rangers need a ruthless rebuild | Rangers

Mick Beale will claim the lure of Rangers was simply too strong. An emotional bond created during time spent at the club as assistant to Steven Gerrard meant he was destined to return. Blah blah. He could reasonably point towards a wider culture in football. Beale is not the first and will not be the last to have weighty sentiment almost immediately contradicted by actions. It is just that, in this case, it is bordering on the preposterous.

“It was a real privilege to be asked to go to speak to them but I didn’t think it was the right moment because I entered into an agreement here,” said Beale when Wolves tried to coax him from Queens Park Rangers. “Integrity is a real big thing for me, and loyalty. You don’t give it to receive it back but I think if they’re the values you live by then at times when you’re put in a position then you have to be strong by them. I’ve been all in here and I’ve asked others to be all in so I can’t be the first to run away from the ship.” This was in late October. Late October 2022. He will begin December as the new manager of Rangers. A switch from QPR to one of British football’s most esteemed clubs is hardly shocking but the self-aggrandising fuss Beale created when knocking back Wolves means onlookers are entitled to snort with laughter.

At Ibrox, where the season has been dominated by domestic shortcomings and Champions League embarrassment, they will not care if Beale has affronted anybody in west London. It will also be brushed aside that Beale headed north to take in Rangers’ victory over Aberdeen – posing with punters in pubs before taking his place in the VIP seats – at a time when Giovanni van Bronckhorst was clearly under pressure. The duly sacked Van Bronckhorst is known to have been upset by Beale’s prominent appearance and no wonder. If Beale, no stranger to self-promotion and having spent three years working in this frenzied domain, did not understand his visit to Glasgow would turn heads, he is far less streetwise than he would ever portray himself. Had he known precisely what he was doing? Hmm. Van Bronckhorst presided over only another four Rangers games, with Beale the automatic candidate to replace him. Good Ship QPR has been deserted.

Those who have worked under Beale describe an outstanding, single-minded coach. A career path which includes stops at Chelsea, Liverpool and São Paulo is to be admired. Yet for Rangers, this has the distinct look of another cosy appointment. Van Bronckhorst was a popular former player who was, conveniently, out of work. Beale delivers the comfort blanket of having been alongside Gerrard for Rangers’ iconic 55th title in 2021. This proved an all-too-rare moment of recent domestic glory for a club with by far the second-biggest budget in Scotland. Rangers have typically wilted, the only difference in this campaign being that the capitulation has arrived early.

Beale pictured at his Rangers unveiling.
Beale pictured at his Rangers unveiling. Those who have worked under his describe him as an outstanding, single-minded coach. Photograph: Kirk O’Rourke/Shutterstock

There is no sense Beale was demanding Gerrard stay put at Rangers when Aston Villa came calling last year. Indeed, informed opinion suggested the management team were keen to free themselves from Ibrox. Gerrard claimed he had “completed” his “remit”. It is curious, then, that within such a short period of time Beale thinks it wise to work for the club again, not least when all pressure falls on his shoulders.

The coming days will see misty-eyed opinion over what Gerrard and Beale produced. That key championship, yes, and the regaining of status in Europe but an underwhelming return of one domestic trophy out of nine. Rangers and their acolytes never tire of telling the rest of us how much winning matters. Supporters regarded Gerrard’s football as predictable before and after the season where Celtic were comfortably swept aside. His departure felt mutually useful.

What Rangers need is a manager who can ruthlessly rebuild a fragile squad. Given Beale was in charge of QPR – his first main role – for little over 20 games, nobody truly knows whether that is within his capabilities. If it is not, Celtic’s run as Scotland’s dominant force for a decade will only be extended.

A glance through Rangers’ personnel dictates what must be done. Allan McGregor, Steven Davis and Scott Arfield are approaching the end of their careers. Glen Kamara will surely move abroad in January if a suitable offer is made. Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent, once key assets, appear to be winding down contracts. Borna Barisic’s defensive weakness – something of a problem for a full-back – is the reason hype around him was always strange. Malik Tillman and James Sands have done little to suggest they are worth the reasonable fees required to turn loans into permanent moves. Filip Helander and Kemar Roofe have appearance records which make Lord Lucan look omnipresent. Perhaps it is unfair to focus on the 18-year-old Leon King, promoted to the first team due to injuries, but he has done nothing to suggest he will be a long-term option at centre-back. Which is a pity; Rangers have done precious little else to adequately promote their own talent. James Tavernier is on such a lucrative contract that it may be impossible to shift him but Rangers should move on from a captain who has been involved in recurring domestic failure.

The positive for Beale and Rangers is that this muddle creates opportunity, should the 42-year-old be willing or able to grasp it. Rangers need root-and-branch change, such is the systematic failure of their football department. A run to last season’s Europa League final at least implied the team have talent but at home, where it counts, they are feeble.

Celtic invited risk when plucking Ange Postecoglou from Yokohama Marinos but he was an experienced manager who had sampled success at domestic and international level. Beale’s body of work includes five matches without a win at QPR; a wholly relevant statistic given he was only hired in June.

Beale is due credit for breaking the old football adage and “going back”. Presumably he thinks he can surpass what Gerrard achieved. What Beale and Rangers have in common is a tendency to talk the talk; together they have to walk the walk or this will be a mutually harmful reacquaintance.

Rangers sack Giovanni van Bronckhorst after lacklustre start to season | Rangers

Rangers have sacked Giovanni van Bronckhorst after a disappointing start to the season which has left them a distant second to Celtic in the Scottish Premiership and embarrassed in the Champions League.

The Ibrox club made unwanted history in Europe with six defeats from six in the group stage, finishing rock bottom of Group A with a goal difference of -20. That represented a new low for a Champions League side, beating Dinamo Zagreb’s winless 2011-12 campaign which ended in six losses and a goal difference of -19.

Rangers have also struggled on the domestic front, with a recent defeat to St Johnstone and draws against St Mirren and Livingston leaving them nine points behind rivals Celtic at the top of the table. They lost 4-0 at Celtic Park in September, compounding their misery.

A statement announcing Van Bronckhorst’s departure read: “Rangers Football Club confirms today it has parted company with manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The board would like to put on record sincere thanks to Gio for all his efforts since his appointment as manager.

“Arriving at the club just over a year ago, Gio led the club to a fifth European final and won the Scottish Cup last May. He also led the team to the club’s first Champions League qualification in 12 years.

“Unfortunately, results and performances over recent months haven’t met expectations and the decision was made today by the board to terminate the contract of the manager. The search for the new manager is now underway.”

Douglas Park, Rangers’ chairman, added: “I want to thank Gio for the hard work he has put in over the last 12 months and, especially, the achievements of taking the club to the Europa League final and winning the Scottish Cup last season.

“Unfortunately, recent results have not met our nor Gio’s expectations, and we have taken this difficult decision today. Everyone at Rangers wishes Gio every success in the future.”

James Tavernier’s late penalty rescues point for Rangers against St Mirren | Scottish Premiership

Giovanni van Bronckhorst found himself again with his Rangers future in sharp focus after a 1-1 draw with St Mirren saw more dropped points in the Premiership title race.

The 1-0 midweek home win over Hearts appeared to give the under-fire Rangers boss some respite but it was back to square one in Paisley.

Returning Saints striker Jonah Ayunga drove the home side into the lead two minutes after the restart before Rangers skipper James Tavernier levelled with a penalty with six minutes of normal time remaining, after referee Kevin Clancy had originally booked Ryan Kent for diving before a VAR check.

Treatment for injury to Rangers defender Leon King explained much of the nine minutes added on but the visitors could not find a winner and they find themselves six points behind Celtic who play Ross County later in the day.

Top-flight football in Scotland takes a break for the World Cup and who knows what will happen in the Ibrox boardroom during that period but the Dutchman appears to be on borrowed time.

Van Bronckhorst had to contend with more injury problems for the lunchtime kick-off. With top scorer Antonio Colak out with a muscle problem, Alfredo Morelos made his first league start this season.

Midfielder Glen Kamara replaced the injured Ben Davies with James Sands moving back to central defence, while Scott Wright was in for Rabbi Matondo.

For St Mirren, Ayunga replaced Alex Greive and he paired up with Curtis Main to give the Rangers centre-back pairing of Sands and 18-year-old King a physical test. And after a lone piper played a tribute for Remembrance Day before kick-off, it became evident that battle would be key to the outcome.

Jonah Ayunga (second right) scores St Mirren’s goal against Rangers
Jonah Ayunga opens the scoring for St Mirren two minutes into the second half. Photograph: Jeff Holmes/PA

However, it was Rangers who created the first clear-cut chance in the seventh minute. Midfielder Malik Tillman slipped the ball between the legs of Saints defender Marcus Fraser but with only keeper Trevor Carson to beat, he dragged his shot wide of the target.

Then Carson blocked Wright’s close-range header at the back post from a Borna Barisic cross. Wright drove wide after a swift counter-attack and as Saints responded, Greg Kiltie’s delivery across the face of the Light Blues’ box found no takers before Buddies defender Declan Gallagher headed a corner wide.

Scott Arfield replaced Kamara for the second half which began, somewhat bizarrely, with Morelos being immediately booked by referee Clancy for barging into Charles Dunne.

Stephen Robinson’s battling side then took the lead. Following a long Gallagher throw-in and a flick-on by Main, keeper Allan McGregor parried Ayunga’s first effort from close range but as King hesitated, the St Mirren attacker fired into the net. Suddenly Rangers and their travelling fans were gripped by anxiety.

There was more trouble for Rangers when King, after a long period of treatment for concussion after a clash with Main, was taken from the field on a stretcher and replaced by Ryan Jack, with John Lundstram moving back to central defence.

The Govan side fought back but now the attacks were underpinned by desperation. As play stretched, Ayunga came close with a long-range effort before Kent was booked by referee Clancy for diving inside the box after a challenge by Fraser. However, after a VAR check, a penalty was awarded and the yellow rescinded with Tavernier slamming the ball past Carson to level.

There were nine minutes added on at the end during which Carson saved a drive from Kent and a header from Jack before again Rangers ran out of time, with their title hopes further damaged.

Rangers slump to defeat at St Johnstone as pressure mounts on Van Bronckhorst | Scottish Premiership

Pressure piled on the Rangers manager, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, after a shock 2-1 defeat by St Johnstone left them seven points behind Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Rangers dominated the first half at McDiarmid Park but found themselves behind in the 41st minute, when 24-year-old wing-back James Brown thundered in a stunning drive from 25 yards for his first senior goal.

The former Rangers striker Nicky Clark grabbed a second in the 62nd minute, and while James Tavernier reduced the deficit in the 73rd minute, the visitors could not find an equaliser. Seething away fans vented their frustration at the final whistle after Rangers’ first defeat in Perth for 12 years.

There had seemed little prospect of an upset despite an ongoing injury crisis at Ibrox. Van Bronckhorst was glad to welcome back centre-back Ben Davies from a groin complaint while midfielder John Lundstram was back again after a one-game ban.

The Saints manager, Callum Davidson, revealed a sickness bug had affected his players, with captain Liam Gordon missing. Elliott Parish took over in goal from the injured Remi Matthews, with Ross Sinclair on the bench after being recalled from his loan spell at Montrose.

Rangers started the game strongly and in the sixth minute Parish had to save Malik Tillman’s effort from a tight angle following Tavernier’s cross. Parish then dived low to his left to push a decent Lundstram drive round the post for a corner. In the 11th minute, Antonio Colak was sent through on goal by Tillman but veteran defender Andrew Considine ensured the Croatia striker did not get a shot on goal.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst watches on at McDiarmid Park.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst watches on at McDiarmid Park. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

As the siege on the St Johnstone goal continued, Rangers winger Fashion Sakala leapt above defender Adam Montgomery to head a Borna Barisic corner off the crossbar. With half-time approaching, the home side took the lead after a mix up between Lundstram and Sakala gave possession away.

Stevie May’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked out to Brown, who thundered a drive high past Allan McGregor for a landmark goal. It was the third successive league game in which Rangers had conceded first, and the hosts doubled their lead just past the hour mark after Alfredo Morelos and Scott Arfield had come on for Rangers.

May beat 18-year-old defender Leon King on the byline and crossed for Clark, who got in front of Barisic at the near post to flick the ball past McGregor. The travelling fans behind the goal immediately turned their ire on van Bronckhorst, while Lundstram sent a left-footed shot from the edge of the box off the outside of post.

Tavernier got Rangers back in the game with a shot from the edge of the box after Considine headed a corner away. The visitors piled on the pressure, Lundstram hitting the bar from 25 yards out before Parish saved a late Tavernier header. Rangers kept pushing but ran out of time – so too, perhaps, has Van Bronckhorst.

Furuhashi and Abada strike late to give Celtic dramatic win over Dundee United | Scottish Premiership

Celtic substitutes Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada scored in a dramatic finale to earn the Premiership champions a 4-2 victory over Dundee United.

United looked like they might earn themselves a point when they equalised with three minutes left as Dylan Levitt’s cross ended up in the net. Tony Watt possibly got a slight touch after attempting to glance a header.

However, Furuhashi headed home from a last-minute corner before Abada made sure Celtic went seven points clear before Rangers visit St Johnstone on Sunday.

Sead Haksabanovic had scored his first two goals for Celtic in the first half either side of a VAR-assisted Steven Fletcher penalty and the hosts were almost made to pay for failing to make early second-half pressure count when United improved in the final 20 minutes.

Ange Postecoglou’s side again found a way to dig out three points though to leave United suffering a very different but similarly painful defeat against a side which beat them 9-0 in August.

Another thrashing looked like it might be on the cards when Haksabanovic netted a sixth-minute opener. Jota had already missed two half chances before setting the Montenegro international up for a tap-in after the Portuguese winger had been played in by Reo Hatate.

Far from opening the floodgates, the tide turned the other way following a United corner. Alexandro Bernabei rose to head clear but a visiting player got a flick-on and Fletcher’s header hit off the Celtic left-back’s arm behind his body while he was still in the air.

The Argentinian knew nothing about it but, after initially playing on, referee David Dickinson pointed to the spot and flashed a yellow card after going to his monitor. Fletcher converted.

Dundee United goalkeeper Mark Birghitti fails to save Celtic’s Sead Haksabanovic’s second goal.
Dundee United goalkeeper Mark Birghitti fails to save Celtic’s Sead Haksabanovic’s second goal. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Celtic took time to get back in their stride, although United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti made an excellent stop from a Giorgos Giakoumakis header, and there was a further lengthy delay when VAR Nick Walsh checked for a potential red card after Craig Sibbald caught the Greek striker with a high boot. Dickinson had not even blown for a foul and he was not called to his monitor.

Anthony Ralston was denied by Birighitti before Celtic got back in front in the 34th minute after keeping the pressure on following a corner. Matt O’Riley’s cross ultimately fell for Haksabanovic, whose first-time strike was pushed in off the post by the United goalkeeper’s weak attempt to stop.

Celtic were well on top in the opening stages of the second half. The closest they came was when David Turnbull’s header looked destined for the net following brilliant wing play from Jota but Aziz Behich got back to stop the ball on the line.

Birighitti twice made saves from O’Riley and Giakoumakis threatened on several occasions and Turnbull came close with a left-footed long-range strike.

Celtic lost some of their momentum though and home fans began to get nervy as United improved in possession. Furuhashi came close with a glancing header but Celtic soon had a double let-off approaching the final 10 minutes.

Celtic were caught out by Levitt’s quickly-taken free-kick which got Glenn Middleton down the right channel. The substitute beat Joe Hart but Greg Taylor got back to clear off the line.

Ryan Edwards got up to get a clean header from the resulting corner from Archie Meekison but the ball bounced off the post.

Celtic stepped up their efforts to get a more comfortable lead and James Forrest headed against the underside of the bar following a cross by fellow substitute Taylor.

Celtic were soon stunned when United equalised through Levitt but they responded emphatically. Birighitti made a good stop from Moritz Jenz but was soon beaten by Furuhashi’s header after Ralston flicked on O’Riley’s corner.

Abada soon streaked down the right wing before chipping Birighitti and his goal counted after a VAR check for offside.

Greg Taylor scores screamer as Celtic sink Livingston to go four points clear | Scottish Premiership

Greg Taylor celebrated his 100th game for Celtic with a stunning goal in a comprehensive 3-0 win over Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena. The 24-year-old Hoops defender set up Japan striker Kyogo Furuhashi to fire in his ninth goal of the season in the 10th minute of a game that the visitors dominated.

Taylor, signed from Kilmarnock in 2019, had an effort saved by debutant keeper Jack Hamilton just after the break but found the net in the 53rd minute with a thunderous drive from 25 yards.

Giorgos Giakoumakis hit the post with a penalty in the 84th minute before his fellow substitute Jota added a third in the closing stages as Ange Postecoglou’s side restored their four-point lead over Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

David Martindale’s side battled to a 1-1 draw with the at Ibrox last week but here they found the champions just too quick, skilful and powerful.

Celtic take on Real Madrid in their final Champions League game in the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Wednesday with their exit from European football this season already confirmed, but they remain a formidable force on the domestic scene.

The big pre-match team news was that 28-year-old Hamilton, signed from Morton in August, was making his Livingston debut following an injury to Shamal George, with Jackson Longridge and James Penrice coming back into the side. Postecoglou reshuffled again with Anthony Ralston, Aaron Mooy and James Forrest coming into the side.

Celtic kept the ball well in the early stages but it was only after Joel Nouble’s effort from a Stephen Kelly free-kick was easily saved by Joe Hart that they took the lead. Taylor had plenty of time to slide in Furuhashi, who took a touch and thrashed the ball high past Hamilton at his near post from eight yards.

Celtic retained their grip on the game with lone striker Nouble cutting an isolated figure for the Lions. Furuhashi looked offside when he went through on goal again in the 22nd minute but stretching under pressure from Jack Fitzwater he knocked the ball over the bar.

As Celtic kept flooding forward, Forrest and Mooy both missed the target by inches with drives from the edge of the box. Hamilton parried a powerful long-distance drive from Taylor at the start of the second half but when he got another chance minutes later, after Mooy’s shot had been blocked, the Scotland defender returned a thunderbolt that fizzed through the keeper’s legs.

On the hour mark Hamilton carelessly misplaced a pass to Forrest but prevented the Scotland winger grabbing a third goal for the Parkhead side, who by then were completely in charge.

There was a VAR check when Jota’s cross hit the hands ofAndrew Shinnie and Willie Collum pointed to the spot after checking the monitor, but Giakoumakis struck the outside of the post with the spot-kick. Minutes later Jota converted a Turnbull cross to add the third.

Rangers overwhelm Aberdeen to ease pressure on Van Bronckhorst | Scottish Premiership

Rangers produced a timely win for their under-fire manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst with a commanding 4-1 comeback over Aberdeen at Ibrox.

Connor Barron drove the visitors ahead in the 21st minute but the Light Blues responded with goals before the break from returning striker Antonio Colak and midfielder John Lundstram. Skipper James Tavernier headed in a third in the 51st minute before hitting the post with a penalty just before the hour mark with substitute Alfredo Morelos adding a late fourth for a convincing victory.

Van Bronckhorst went into the game under increasing scrutiny after his side slipped four points behind Premiership leaders Celtic last weekend and being booed at the end of a second home game running when they drew 1-1 with Livingston. A demoralising Champions League campaign had continued on Wednesday night with a 3-0 defeat by Napoli but Rangers demonstrated their domestic desire and this time there were cheers at the final whistle. It was quite an afternoon in Govan.

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Scottish roundup-Boyle injury a worry for Hibs and Australia


-Martin Boyle, Myko Kukharevych and Ewan Henderson scored as Hibernian moved back up to third place in the cinch Premiership with a comfortable 3-0 victory over St Mirren. Boyle’s penalty earned the home side the lead going into the half-time break with VAR again playing its part. Kukharevych scored the second goal after 63 minutes. A shot from substitute Elias Melkersen ricocheted into Henderson’s step just inside the penalty area and Henderson placed a cool finish high into the net for the third goal. 

The Australian Boyle, though, was forced off with a knee injury in the second half, a concern for Hibs and for his country with the World Cup approaching. 

Ash Taylor’s fourth-minute own goal from a Stevie May shot allowed St Johnstone a narrow 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at McDiarmid Park.It appeared that Kilmarnock had equalised in the second half, but Liam Donnelly’s goal was ruled out by referee Craig Napier as the Saints held on for consecutive Premiership victories for the first time this season to move up to seventh.

Tony Watt was sent off following a VAR decision as Motherwell beat Dundee United 1-0 at Tannadice. Sondre Solholm broke the deadlock after his 22nd-minutes when his header was palmed over the line by keeper Mark Birighitti. The former Motherwell forward Watt was sent off five minutes before half-time following a challenge on Sean Goss in the centre circle.

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The unchanged visitors, who arrived third in the league, pressed from the first whistle but Rangers played their way through with purpose with attacker Fashion Sakala, back in the side along with Colak, knocking a Ryan Kent cross over the bar.

There was a groan around Ibrox in the sixth minute when Rangers left-back Ridvan Yilmaz went to ground clutching his hamstring after blocking a cross on the byline and he was replaced by Borna Barisic with the fans noting another addition to the club’s lengthy injury list.

In the 20th minute Colak’s shot from distance drew a decent save from Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos but then came the Dons stunner. Luis Lopes turned young defender Leon King three times inside the box and the visitors claimed for a penalty when Tavernier put in a challenge but Barron wasted no time in firing the loose ball past keeper Allan McGregor.

The home fans urged their side forward in response and former Rangers player Ross McCrorie cleared an attack off the line but just as the frustrations begin to build, Rangers equalised. Malik Tillman took a pass from Lundstram and squared for the prolific Colak to sweep his shot low past Roos from 16 yards for his 14th goal of the season.

Antonio Colak celebrates scoring for Rangers.
Antonio Colak celebrates scoring for Rangers. Photograph: Steve Welsh/PA

Aberdeen came under pressure. Roos blocked a shot from Sakala after Colak had split open the Dons defence and amid a frenetic game there was also an ignored Rangers penalty claim when the ball appeared to strike the hand of Liam Scales.

But with seconds remaining of the first half, a cleared Barisic free-kick fell to Tavernier whose drive from the edge of the box was parried by Roos. Rangers defender Ben Davies knocked the ball back from a tight angle for Lundstram to hammer high into the net.

Davies was replaced by midfielder Scott Arfield for the start of the second half with James Sands moving back to defence. The match continued at a breathless pace and the home side increased their lead when Tavernier climbed above Aberdeen defender Jack MacKenzie at the back post to head in a Barisic cross.

There was a VAR check in the 57th minute after the ball appeared to hit the hands of Jayden Richardson inside the box and after checking his monitor referee Nick Walsh pointed to the spot with Tavernier striking the post with his effort.

Rangers kept up the pressure and in the 73rd minute Arfield’s side-footed shot was cleared off the line by Leighton Clarkson. Then Morelos, who replaced Colak, had the ball in the net but was ruled offside after a VAR check and after tapping in from a Sakala cross in the 86th minute, after a longer VAR check, this time the goal stood.

Scottish Premiership: Taylor nicks thrilling 4-3 win for Celtic over Hearts | Scottish Premiership

Scottish football witnessed major VAR controversy in the system’s second game in use as Celtic edged a seven-goal thriller at Tynecastle. Hearts substitute Lawrence Shankland hit a hat-trick but was upstaged by the cinch Premiership leaders, who secured a 4-3 victory thanks to Greg Taylor’s 76th-minute winner.

James Forrest, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda also netted as the lead changed hands several times. A pulsating match was also overshadowed by some hotly debated decisions involving the newly introduced video technology.

Decisions were confirmed by VAR checks during St Johnstone’s win over Hibernian on Friday, but the first intervention came in first-half stoppage time across Edinburgh when referee Nick Walsh was told to look again at Cameron Carter-Vickers’ challenge on Cammy Devlin by video assistant Steven McLean.

Walsh went to his monitor to watch footage which clearly showed Devlin got the ball before being brought down. Shankland netted from the spot to make it 1-1.

Moments later Celtic appealed for a penalty when the ball hit Michael Smith’s arm in the box after being flicked up by Forrest. Walsh again played on and, after a much shorter delay while McLean checked the footage, the game continued.

Smith had appeared to move his arm towards the ball and Celtic manager Ange Postecolgou could not believe the decision, laughing and clapping sarcastically.
There was an earlier contentious decision as Anthony Ralston put the ball in the Hearts net which VAR confirmed, and the video official ordered a retake of the home team’s second penalty of the day.

The tone for the game was set early. Barrie McKay saw a first-time effort saved by Joe Hart and Maeda was off target from a similar opportunity.

Celtic left-back Alexandro Bernabei gave the ball away on a number of occasions and one moment led to Robert Snodgrass waltzing through the Celtic defence only for Hart to come out and deny him.

Celtic went straight up the park and scored a 14th-minute opener. Ralston burst on to Reo Hatate’s inside pass and drove the ball into the goalmouth from the by-line. Craig Gordon looked like he would have gathered had Orestis Kiomourtzoglou not slid in to attempt to clear, and the ball spun up for Forrest to nod home.

The first significant delay to proceedings came after Walsh blew for a free-kick to Hearts just before Ralston dived to head home Aaron Mooy’s free-kick. Gordon was eventually allowed to take the free-kick by Walsh although there appeared little wrong when Giakoumakis collided with Kiomourtzoglou.

Hearts striker Stephen Humphrys was causing Celtic problems and threatened with two shots before going off injured in the 39th minute. Shankland came on.
The action continued at both ends. Hatate could not control the ball after being played in following an excellent Celtic move and Kiomourtzoglou headed just wide.
Shankland levelled from the spot three minutes into stoppage time and the drama did not let up after Celtic’s penalty claim was rejected.

The former Dundee United striker put the hosts in front 90 seconds after the restart when he turned home Ginnelly’s low cross from close range.
The action was relentless. Mooy missed a sitter and Devlin sliced wide before Forrest had a shot saved. Giakoumakis equalised when he headed home Mooy’s corner in the 55th minute.

Celtic were ahead four minutes later when Maeda raced in to net after Gordon palmed Mooy’s 22-yard strike.

Walsh gave Hearts’ second penalty immediately after Devlin beat Moritz Jenz to a cross. After a check, Shankland saw his effort saved by Hart and miskicked his follow-up but Ginnelly raced in to knock home.

VAR official McLean ordered a retake after the winger and Jenz were shown to be encroaching. Shankland lapped up the second chance to claim his hat-trick by sending Hart the wrong way in the 65th minute.

Postecoglou immediately sent on Sead Haksabanovic, Liel Abada and Taylor and the latter two combined to put Celtic back in front. The left-back burst into the six-yard box to stab home Abada’s deflected shot.

Abada was denied by Gordon and then the offside flag as Celtic saw out the dramatic win without any more scares.

Nervous Rangers return to winning ways with victory over Motherwell | Scottish Premiership

Rangers went some way to banishing memories of their 7-1 midweek defeat against Liverpool with a 2-1 away win at Motherwell on Sunday, their fourth Scottish Premiership victory in a row.

Second half goals from Malik Tillman and John Lundstram appeared to have handed Rangers a comfortable lead at Fir Park, but in the end the result proved to be trickier than expected, as Stuart McKinstry scored from a free-kick for Motherwell on 77 minutes.

Looking suddenly nervous, Rangers nonetheless survived a late Motherwell surge to go two points behind the league leaders, Celtic, in second place.

The Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst praised his players for brushing aside the psychological blow of their heavy defeat against Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday. “We had to bounce back from that midweek game,” he said. “We had a knock to our confidence on Wednesday; that’s why we had to perform well to win this one.

“We had control of the goal until we conceded the free-kick. After that we had to be mentally strong to make sure we got the three points – and we were.”

Van Bronckhorst had made three alterations to the Rangers team from Wednesday’s chastening defeat as Leon King, Tillman and Rabbi Matondo came in for Goldson, Ryan Jack and Fashion Sakala.

Motherwell also made three changes to the side that started the 1-0 defeat at Hibernian the previous weekend as McKinstry, Josh Morris and Ross Tierney replaced Blair Spittal, Connor Shields and Joseph Efford.

The visitors had the first opening of the game after three minutes when Ryan Kent jinked his way into the box from the left, but the winger was crowded out by the Motherwell defence before seeing his deflected shot gathered by goalkeeper Liam Kelly.

Motherwell’s Paul McGinn (left) vies for the ball with Rangers’ Ryan Kent at Fir Park on Sunday.
Motherwell’s Paul McGinn (left) vies for the ball with Rangers’ Ryan Kent at Fir Park on Sunday. Photograph: Steve Welsh/PA

Tillman had a good opportunity for Rangers in the sixth minute when a Borna Barisic cross from the left broke to him 12 yards out, but the USA international shot high over the bar.

Motherwell’s first notable attempt came in the 33rd minute when former Rangers midfielder Sean Goss curled his free-kick into the defensive wall from just outside the box.

After an insipid first-half display, Rangers started the second on the front foot, with Antonio Colak sending a close-range header wide from a Barisic cross shortly after the restart.

Motherwell striker Kevin van Veen then tested Allan McGregor with a low shot from the angle of the box which the Rangers goalkeeper held at the second attempt.

Rangers took the lead in the 53rd minute when Tillman ran unchecked all the way from the halfway line before jinking into the box and clipping an angled shot beyond Kelly from six yards out, sparking joyous celebrations among the away supporters, who had been growing anxious with their team’s lack of creativity until that point.

The visitors then doubled their advantage in the 69th minute when Lundstram headed in Barisic’s corner. An object appeared to be thrown in the direction of Barisic as the visitors celebrated in front of the Motherwell fans.

The hosts got themselves back in the game in the 76th minute with McKinstry’s inswinging free-kick from wide on the left, which drifted over McGregor and in at the far post. But Rangers held on for a much-needed win.

Afterwards the Motherwell manager Steven Hammell said: “I don’t think we threatened them enough. We needed to be tactically better with the goals that we conceded.”

Forrest scores hat-trick as majestic Celtic thrash Hibs to go five points clear | Scottish Premiership

James Forrest took his tally of Celtic goals to 100 with a hat-trick in the 6-1 Premiership hammering of Hibernian.

The 31-year-old Scotland winger has dropped down the pecking order at Celtic Park but in his first start of the season he scored either side of a Giorgos Giakoumakis strike to give the league leaders a commanding interval lead.

Half-time substitute Elie Youan pulled a goal back in the 56th minute for the visitors before Forrest, who came through the ranks at Celtic, completed his hat-trick two minutes later with further strikes from Giakoumakis and substitute Daizen Maeda underlining Celtic’s superiority.

James Forrest celebrates scoring his side’s fourth goal.
James Forrest celebrates scoring his side’s fourth goal. Photograph: Steve Welsh/PA

Ange Postecoglou’s men may be struggling for points in the Champions League – they have one after four group games – but they remain the team to beat domestically and they moved five points ahead of second-top Rangers who play Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday.

Amid a hectic period of Celtic fixtures, Forrest, Giakoumakis, Anthony Ralston, Alexandro Bernabei and Aaron Mooy were all back in the side.

The typical early Celtic onslaught brought rewards in the eighth minute when Sead Haksabanovic’s cross from the left was met by Forrest and he knocked a volley back across former Celtic keeper David Marshall and in at the far post.

The Edinburgh side, with Harry McKirdy making his first start and veteran defender Lewis Stevenson back in the side, tried to respond but Celtic were in rampant mood and went further ahead in the 18th minute when Bernabei’s cross from the left was buried from 10 yards by Giakoumakis.

The third goal followed six minute later when Haksabanovic’s cut-back from the left ended up at the feet of Forrest, who took a touch and fired in a decent shot which Marshall saved, only to let it fumble out of his grasp and over the line. It was all over bar the scoreline.

Midfielder Reo Hatate had the ball in the Hibs net just before the break but the offside flag was already up while a penalty claim, when Hibs defender Ryan Porteous, challenged Giakoumakis inside the box was ignored by referee Steven McLean.

Lee Johnson, unimpressed by his side’s performance, made four interval changes with Rocky Bushiri, Marijan Cabraja, Kyle Magennis and Youan on for Chris Cadden, Stevenson, McKirdy and Mykola Kuharevich. Haksabanovic was replaced by Maeda which meant little respite for the visitors on the left flank.

However, seconds after Bushiri had blocked a goal-bound shot from Forrest, Hibs raced up the park with Martin Boyle playing in Youan to beat keeper Joe Hart at his near post with a powerful drive.

But any notions of a comeback were soon dispelled when Mooy took advantage of a Nohan Kenneh mistake in midfield to play in Forrest whose deflected strike from 16 yards sped high past Marshall.

Forrest was soon replaced by Liel Abada with Oliver Abildgaard on for Matt O’Riley.

Hibs came near on a couple of occasions – Boyle’s shot which went just past the post was especially close – before Abada’s cut-back found Giakoumakis who drove in off the post.

Substitute Kyogo Furuhashi, on for Hatate, rattled the Hibs post with a drive from just inside the box, and Marshall saved a one-on-one against Abada, before Maeda converted a Mooy cross for number six in the 89th minute, to seal a comprehensive win.