Rangers marked Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first league game in charge with a 3-1 win at Livingston on Sunday to maintain their four-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership as Celtic overcame Aberdeen 2-1 thanks to a bizarre Callum McGregor winner.
Early goals from Scott Arfield and Joe Aribo put the champions in command at Almondvale but it took a late Fashion Sakala goal to make the points safe after Connor Goldson’s error led to a Bruce Anderson effort which had given Livi hope of an upset.
For Van Bronckhorst, the result was the perfect follow-up to Thursday night’s 2-0 Europa League win over Sparta Prague in his first match since taking over from Steven Gerrard as Rangers boss.
The former Gers midfielder could barely have wished for a better start at the Tony Macaroni Arena, with Arfield lobbing over the stranded Max Stryjek inside eight minutes after a perfect lofted pass from James Tavernier. And within eight more minutes they were two up when Aribo finished first time off the underside of the bar after Alfredo Morelos flicked on a lovely Ryan Kent pass.
But Livi fought back to within a goal when Goldson misjudged Jack Fitzwater’s long ball and Alan Forrest’s shot was half-saved by Allan McGregor into the path of Anderson, who headed into an empty net.
Yet the majority of the second half was played in the Livingston half as Rangers searched for the killer third goal, and it was Sakala who got it when he headed home Tavernier’s corner just six minutes after having replaced Kent in a double-change by new boss Van Bronckhorst.
The result means that Celtic's win in the 3pm kick-off maintains a four-point gap between the two Glasgow sides, although it might have been six but for an extraordinary second-half goal for Celtic skipper Callum McGregor.
The Hoops took the lead in the first half thanks to Jota, only for Aberdeen to draw level when Lewis Ferguson shot home from the penalty spot after Liel Abada brought down David Bates. But Ange Postecoglou's side would claim all three points after Jonny Hayes' attempted clearance struck McGregor and flew into the vistors' net.
With Hearts coming to Parkhead in midweek and a trip to Dundee United following next Sunday, it was vital that Celtic started a huge seven days in the title race by at least matching their city rivals' result.
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