Scottish Premier League Week 2
Saturday, 11 August 2007
Falkirk 1-4 Celtic
Celtic showed why they are the reigning champions of the Scottish Premier League with a hard fought win, and a score line that makes it look like they had an easy afternoon in this live premiership football match shown on TV.
It was the home team that stunned the champions with a Michael Higdon rose high to head in his second goal of the season on 5 minutes. Minutes later he should have had a second but saw another headed attempt hit the crossbar and fall safely. For most of the first half the action was end to end but Celtic it was who took the chance to equalize on 30 minutes with a shot by Kenny Miller being deflected into his own net.
Still the two teams fought hard for the points and Falkirk managed to hold out until Kenny Miller it was again that produced a second for Celtic on 76, minutes later Milne was shown a red card for holding back Venegoor of Hesselink when he was about to strike for goal and up stepped Nakamura to place the resultant free kick into the Falkirk net on 79 and ensure the points where theirs. Venegoor of Hesselink added a fourth on 81 when he was played in by Paul Hartley and rounded Krul nicely.
Falkirk can take heart from the match as they matched the Champions for long periods. Unfortunately for them Celtic just had the edge. For Celtic the only hope is that they can recover from such a competitive match in time for their Champions League qualifier midweek away to Spartak Moscow.
Rangers 2-0 St Mirren
St Mirren were facing a monumental task of taking points from Ibrox Park from a team who showed last weekend that they are taking no prisoners in the search for the Scottish Premier League title.
The first half was very much as expected with one way traffic directed towards the St Mirren goal making Chris Smith the busiest man of the afternoon. Unbelievably the teams went off at half time on level terms predominantly due to the dogged defence of the St Mirren team who spent most of the first 45 minutes in their own half.
Walter Smith must have found the words to rally the Rangers players as they started the second half very lively and it took until only the 52 minute for the opening goal to arrive. Barry Ferguson the Rangers captain it was who powered into the box to strike a ball chested down in his path by Lee McCulloch high into the St Mirren net beating Chris Smith at long.
The home team pressed foreward looking for a second and it was left to new signing Daniel Cousin to score a second from a sweet cross on the left from DaMarcus Beasley in the 80th minute, having come on to replace Kris Boyd midway through the second half.
Rangers were made to work hard for the points but showed patience in waiting for their opportunities, something they will also need during the week when they play host to Crvena Zvezda in a Champions League qualifier.
Motherwell 2-1 Inverness CT
Motherwell must be feeling very strange having attained 3rd place in the league even if it is only 2 games in. Despite their current position they will no doubt realise that this game will be one of the most important of their season as later they will doubtless be challenging Inverness for premiership survival.
The game itself turned out to be a scrappy affair with neither team looking as if they would take any of the few chances on offer.
Fans who had turned up late would have missed little indeed it was not until the last ten minutes that the action really started as the visitors struck through a close range shot by Ian Black on 82 minutes. Judging by the rest of the match most would have thought that that was the end of the scoring, however Motherwell had other ideas.
It was left to Phil O'Donnell to connect onto a Steve McGarry cross and head into the Inverness goal with 5 minutes remaining. At this point both teams would probably have settled for a share of the points but Motherwell found themselves with a penalty in the dying moments of the match when David Clarkson was felled in the box. Second half substitute Ross McCormack stepped up to convert the penalty and ensure all three points for the home team.
Hibernian 4-2 Gretna
Gretna scored their first two Scottish Premier League goals in the match to stun the Hibernian fans who had earlier in the week watch them win their rivals Hearts quite easily.
Fabian Yantorno opened the scoring on 17. He was fouled just outside the box and stepped up to curl the resultant free kick around Kalambay and into the Hibs net. Gretna’s second came after the break on 49 when Colin McMenamin broke clear to add a second after a mix up in the Hibs defence.
Hibernian had a chance to score almost immediately when they were awarded a penalty against Craig Barr for a hand ball in the box, however it was Benjelloun who stepped foreward to send his penalty kick straight at Fleming and with that seemingly this was to be Gretna’s day!
However it was Bnjelloun who was to make amends by turning provider for both Zemmama on 64 and Fletcher on 66 to draw level with Gretna. Credit the teams as they were both pushing for the victory but on 82 it was Zemmama who was to put Hibernian in the lead for the first time in the match.
Gretna bravely pushed for an equaliser but were caught on the counter by a Kevin McCann goal. Gretna despite their two results are refusing to lay down and are trying to produce exciting football, but they are finding that the Scottish Premier League leaves little room for those teams who do not take their chances. This is something they will need to sort quickly if they are to have any chance of staying in the top flight!
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Aberdeen 1-1 Hearts
The two teams had less than desirable starts to their respective campaigns, but found themselves slotted in as the Sunday lunch time live premiership football match and both were determined to put on a better showing.
Hearts made 5 changes in total from their last game and featured their new captain Christophe Berra who took over from former captain Craig Gordon who finally moved south of the border to Sunderland.
Aberdeen made three themselves and perhaps this was partly responsible for the scrappy game that followed. Very few clear cut chance opened up for either team and as is the case in games like this a mistake by the Hearts defence led to Barry Nicholson firing in the first goal from 10 yards on 19 minutes.
The last action of the half came when Michael Stewart was given the opportunity to shoot from just outside the box and deftly curled his shot past Soutar to draw the visitor’s level.
Despite strong words obviously being said in the dressing room during half time, the second half descended into a very unforgettable affair and with neither team seemingly able to create chances the clock ran down with the teams sharing the points.
Both teams will be disappointed at not just the result but also their performances because on this form they are very unlikely to challenge for any honours. With only two games gone it could turn into a very long season for both teams.
Monday, 13 August 2007
Kilmarnock 2-1 Dundee Utd
Kilmarnock will consider themselves very lucky to have escaped with any points at all from this televised live premiership football match. Both teams worked hard in the first half but were unable to produce much in the way of clear cut chances. Both Nish and Naismith had probably the best opportunities to take the home side into the lead but both were unable to find the net with their final touches. At the other end Craig Conway saw Dundee’s best effort parried by the Kilmarnock keeper.
The second half began with the visitors looking the more likely to score and in the 50 minute Noel Hunt took a cross from Barry Robson to fire Dundee into the lead from six yards out. Normal service was resumed after the goal with both sides failing to create much in the way of goal scoring opportunities, however with 15 minutes to go Dundee were reduced to 10 men as Christian Kalvenes was shown a straight red for a challenge on Steven Naismith in which he seemed to make contact with the ball.
A few minutes later Gibson sent the home fans into raptures as he scored from a Johnston cross. As if that wasn’t hard enough on Dundee they fell behind to a goal from Nish as he shot from close range to seal what looked like an unlikely victory for the home team.
Dundee manager Craig Levein had to be restrained on the final whistle as tempers flared, not unsurprising as up until the red card Dundee had seemed in control of the match. With Jim Jeffries also saying he didn’t think the sending off was warranted it remains to be seen if the red card is rescinded. Unfortunately whatever happens Dundee have the knowledge that the points are gone forever.
Tags: Celtic, Scottish Premier League, live premiership football, Falkirk, Champions League, Rangers, Motherwell, Inverness, Gretna, Hibernian, Aberdeen, Hearts, Kilmarnock, Dundee