Hoops go seven clear
A review of the Boxing Day action in the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League, including wins for Celtic and Motherwell.
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Smart finishes from Georgios Samaras and Gary Hooper sent Celtic seven points clear at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a 2-0 victory at Dundee.
Samaras sent Celtic on their way to a fifth consecutive SPL victory with an overhead kick 16 minutes into a one-sided first half at Dens Park.
Dundee made a game of it after the break and Colin Nish missed a great chance to equalise but Hooper secured the points in the 71st minute when he lobbed Rab Douglas.
Celtic controlled the final stages as they extended their lead at the top of the table after second-placed Inverness were earlier held by St Mirren.
Motherwell produced a ruthless attacking display to defeat Aberdeen 4-1 at Fir Park and go level on points with Inverness in second place.
Tom Hateley headed home Jamie Murphy's cross after 10 minutes to give Stuart McCall's side the lead against the run of play.
The hosts again punished Aberdeen's failure to take their chances as Murphy doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark, however Jonny Hayes powered through the midfield before powering an effort past Darren Randolph to reduce the deficit just minutes later.
Murphy notched his 10th goal of the season on the stroke of half-time to provide a timely boost for Well and Michael Higdon added a fourth 10 minutes into the second half.
Former Scotland Under-21 international Murphy was handed a chance to complete his hat-trick when Motherwell were awarded a penalty with 25 minutes remaining, but his weak effort was saved by Jamie Langfield.
- Scottish Premier
Inverness maintained their reputation as a tough side to defeat after twice coming from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with St Mirren.
Inverness had lost only once in their previous 18 matches in all competitions and surpassed their goals tally for last season as they took their total to 44, two more than their entire haul in 2011-12.
Injuries and suspensions left St Mirren boss Danny Lennon a player short on the substitutes' bench but the Paisley side stunned Inverness when they scored after just 76 seconds following a lightning three-man move started by Stephen Thompson.
Dougie Imrie finished it off with a low angled shot from 18 yards after Paul McGowan had also played his part as the link man.
Andrew Shinnie equalised after 38 minutes only for Thompson to put St Mirren back in the driving seat 10 minutes after the restart.
However, Inverness captain Richie Foran headed the home side level again with 67 minutes played.
Liam Kelly's first-half penalty was enough to give Kilmarnock three hard-fought points against Hearts with a 1-0 win at Rugby Park.
There was little between the teams in the first half, which saw Kelly score from the spot in the 26th minute after Gorgie defender Andy Webster had fouled James Dayton.
However, the Tynecastle men laid siege to the Killie box at times in the second period only to be denied by dogged defending and some fine saves from keeper Cammy Bell.
Hearts will wonder how they managed to leave Ayrshire with nothing for their efforts but that will worry Killie little, as they leapfrog the Edinburgh men to move into sixth place in the table.
- Scottish Premier
Dundee United fought out an entertaining Tayside derby with St Johnstone as they drew 1-1 at Tannadice.
Peter Houston's men looked like winning their first home SPL clash since August when defender Gavin Gunning headed them into the lead inside two minutes, but an own goal from team-mate Brian McLean put paid to that as Steve Lomas' Saints side fought back to ensure a deserved share of the spoils.
Ross County ended a nine-match winless run with a 1-0 victory over Hibernian at Easter Road.
Richard Brittain headed in the winner after 57 minutes as the visitors won for the first time in almost two months to emulate Aberdeen and claim a second win over Hibs from two attempts this season.
Fourth-placed Hibs, who now play Celtic and Hearts in successive matches in a true test of their top-six credentials, lacked the guile to open up their opponents and have one point from their last four SPL matches after a third home loss of the season.