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Brown's final home game as Celtic hammer St Johnstone and Rangers thrash Livingston

Steven Gerrard’s side move to within one game of unbeaten league campaign

Celtic players celebrate scoring against St Johnstone.
Celtic players celebrate scoring against St Johnstone.
Image: PA

Updated May 12th 2021, 9:05 PM

SCOTT BROWN PRODUCED an impressive assist as Celtic beat a Covid-hit St Johnstone 4-0 in his final home match tonight. 

Elsewhere Rangers’ quest for an invincible league campaign will go down to the final day of the season after Steven Gerrard’s champions cleared their penultimate hurdle at Livingston.

Brown’s long diagonal ball set up Odsonne Edouard to double Celtic’s lead in the 24th minute of their game. David Turnbull had netted the opener 60 seconds earlier after loan goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal had been controversially penalised for picking up a passback.

Zlamal had been pitched in for an unexpected Saints debut with the visitors without more players amid what manager Callum Davidson termed an ongoing issue with Covid.

The Hearts goalkeeper was also beaten by Kristoffer Ajer’s deflected strike and Karamoko Dembele’s first goal for Celtic.

Aberdeen-bound Brown arrived to a welcoming party of fans outside the main entrance and there were several banners in his honour in the stands as he led the team out for the final time at Celtic Park.

The 35-year-old was presented with a silver salver by outgoing chief executive Peter Lawwell before the game to mark his 14 years of service, and got a standing ovation from the directors box and substitutes after being replaced by Ismaila Soro.

There was a debut as well as a swansong as Adam Montgomery lined up at left-back for Celtic. The 18-year-old delivered a composed and confident display in possession as well as a goal-saving intervention.

The game turned on a moment of controversy when Zlamal picked up after wing-back Brown knocked the ball backwards. Davidson could not believe referee Bobby Madden had deemed the action deliberate and his mood worsened when Turnbull drove inside the near post from 16 yards following the indirect free-kick.

Scott Brown soon had his moment as Edouard finished in style from his long pass, the French striker producing a brilliant take, cutting inside Shaun Rooney and dinking over Zlamal.

Celtic set about adding to their lead. Turnbull curled wide, Rooney cleared off the line from Ryan Christie and Zlamal made saves from Edouard and Christie.

Montgomery cleared off the line from Craig Conway before making way for Greg Taylor when Brown was taken off in the 63rd minute.

The remainder of the chances came at the other end. Zlamal denied Edouard at close range before the Frenchman inadvertently blocked Mohamed Elyounoussi’s follow-up.

celtic-v-st-johnstone-scottish-premiership-celtic-park Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer celebrates scoring their side's third goal of the game Source: PA

The loan keeper produced good saves from substitutes Taylor and Leigh Griffiths but was beaten by Ajer’s heavily-deflected effort from inside the box in the 79th minute.

Dembele raced on to Turnbull’s through ball and found the net from a tight angle six minutes later.

James Tavernier tucked home his 19th goal of the season for Rangers from the penalty spot before Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi sealed a 3-0 win over Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

livingston-v-rangers-scottish-premiership-tony-macaroni-arena Rangers fans let off fireworks as they celebrate outside the ground. Source: PA

The new kings of Scotland have survived 37 fixtures without defeat so far, racking up 99 points in the process.

They now need only a draw to complete a blemish-free season and also smash through the century barrier when they host Aberdeen ahead of Saturday’s long-awaited trophy presentation.

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There was a classy touch before kick-off as the hosts offered Gers a guard of honour from the halfway line as Gerrard’s team entered from the corner.

Rangers were making their third visit of the Premiership campaign to Almondvale.

The champions had hardly enjoyed their two previous trips along the M8, requiring a last-minute winner to scrape victory back in March following August’s frustrating goalless draw.

They appeared little happier on Livi’s sticky plastic surface in the opening stages this time, with the end-of-season vibe doing little to raise the enthusiasm levels.

Rangers had been chapping at the Livi door without much success until three minutes before the break when Kemar Roofe’s gorgeous flick sent Hagi racing through. The Romania international got his shot away but was immediately clattered into by Max Stryjek.

Livi will feel it was a harsh award given Hagi’s shot was well off-target but by the letter of the law Don Robertson well within his rights to give the spot-kick.

Tavernier slotted past Stryjek’s right hand to the delight of the 200 fans who gathered to watch their team from a hill just outside the ground.

Like the Light Blues’ last visit, the locked-out loyal launched a barrage of fireworks in the 55th minute to mark their heroes’ title triumph. Two minutes later their team exploded forward to grab the second.

Tavernier found Kent galloping infield with a pin-point 50-yard raker and the winger tapped home after a quick-fire exchange of passes with Alfredo Morelos.

Hagi made sure Gers’ search for a loss-free campaign lived on in the 83rd minute, stroking home from Cedric Itten’s cut-back.

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