Scottish round-up: Celtic win again as Rangers draw with Hearts
Brendan Rodgers’ side maintain 100 per cent start to the season in all competitions
Celtic’s Calvin Miller goes close at Kilmarnock. Photograph: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.
Boss Brendan Rodgers had made eight changes for the 5-0 home thrashing of Killie in the Betfred Cup earlier in the month and this time he opted for half a dozen.
Although the performance was not as impressive the Hoops were worth the three points courtesy of a smart finish just before the break by winger Forrest, taking over as main striker from Leigh Griffiths who started on the bench, and a late strike by midfielder McGregor.
Celtic remain unbeaten this season in all competitions they prepare to jet out to Kazakhstan for the second-leg of their Champions League play-off against Astana on Tuesday where they will take a surely unassailable 5-0 lead and confidence could hardly be higher.
“There were so many positives today,” Rodgers said afterwards. “Firstly the performance on always a difficult surface.
“I thought the level of technique and composure on what is always a difficult surface was great.
“I am delighted with the result. Another clean sheet, another couple of goals so we are happy and we are delighted with the integration of our young players.”
Rangers suffered further early season frustration as determined Hearts dug in for a deserved point after a 0-0 draw at Ibrox.
Pedro Caixinha’s men were looking to bounce back from last week’s controversy-laden defeat to Hibernian. But while there was no shortage of incidents in that loss to Neil Lennon’s team, the Light Blues were hampered by their inability to raise the tempo against the capital’s other team as they were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw.
The point will do Hearts caretaker boss Jon Daly no harm in his bid to persuade Ann Budge he is the man to take up the management reigns at Tynecastle on a permanent basis, but it only increases the dubious glares being pointed in Caixinha’s direction, with his Gers already five points behind Celtic after just three games.
Michael O’Halloran’s fourth goal of the season saw St Johnstone maintain their winning start with a 1-0 success over Partick Thistle. O’Halloran lit up an otherwise scrappy encounter to notch for the fourth time in just three league games since re-joining Saints to leave Tommy Wright’s side with a perfect record after three matches of the season.
Thistle have a good record at McDiarmid Park — including a 3-0 win in the Irn-Bru Cup last week — and the hosts paid them respect in the opening minutes, retaining a solid defensive shape and going long with the ball.
St Johnstone were forced to withstand pressure and a nervy crowd before O’Halloran popped up to break the deadlock in the 33rd minute. After being marginalised on the left wing, the on-loan Rangers man drifted infield unmarked and was found by a precise through ball from Anderson.
O’Halloran took the ball in his stride before firing in off the far post from just inside the area to continue his impressive start to the season.