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Title heading back to Celtic Park – Scottish Premiership talking points

Celtic players salute their fans (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Celtic players salute their fans (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Celtic fans celebrated an inevitable title triumph and the picture at the bottom of the cinch Premiership became a whole lot clearer on the penultimate weekend of the season.

Elsewhere, there was a twist in the tale in the battle for Europe.

Here are five things we learned from the weekend’s action.

League trophy is going back to Celtic Park

Celtic v Hearts
Celtic fans were in celebratory mood but Ange Postecoglou remained focused (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Celtic’s 4-1 win over Hearts put the title beyond realistic reach of Rangers, who are now six points and 20 goals adrift of their rivals with two games left. There was tension in the air after Ellis Simms netted early on but Celtic’s third goal transformed the mood into one of celebration, from the fans at least even if the players and Ange Postecoglou were careful not to declare too soon.

Rangers win but too late for title

A much-changed Rangers side took care of Dundee United at Ibrox but the title is on its way to Parkhead. Boss Giovanni Van Bronckhorst made seven changes following the thrilling Europa League semi-final win over RB Leipzig on Thursday night but they still dominated the reticent visitors. The Light Blues got the breakthrough in the 55th minute when skipper James Tavernier scored a penalty before half-time substitute Amad Diallo added a second in the 78th minute for a 2-0 win.

Dundee are doomed

Dundee’s controversial decision to sack James McPake after two consecutive wins and replace him with a more experienced manager looks to have backfired in spectacular fashion. With Mark McGhee brought in after the transfer window closed, the 64-year-old has now gone 12 games without a win and a 2-0 defeat by St Mirren – who were helped by an inadvertent assist by Dundee skipper Charlie Adam – left the Taysiders six points and seven goals adrift of St Johnstone with two games remaining. The inevitable will be confirmed if Dundee fail to beat Hibernian at home on Tuesday.

St Johnstone can prepare for the play-offs

St Johnstone will have work to do if Dundee find two wins from somewhere but the best they can hope for is a play-off after a draw with Livingston proved insufficient to maintain their slim hopes of getting out of the bottom two. St Mirren and Aberdeen’s top-flight status was officially secured while Saints boss Callum Davidson will closely watch the Premiership play-off semi-final between Inverness and Arbroath.

Motherwell might be timing their run to perfection again

The Steelmen sneaked into the top six in the final seconds when Ricki Lamie equalised against Livingston – a week after they bagged their first league win of 2022. But a European place looked unlikely after they lost their first two games after the split. However, Kevin Van Veen’s penalty was enough to earn their first away win in seven months and leapfrog Ross County into fifth. They could even secure a Europa Conference League spot on Wednesday if they beat Hearts.