Soccer

5 things we learned from a rain-soaked weekend of Premiership action

Brendan Rodgers suffered another defeat at Rugby Park (Steve Welsh/PA)
Brendan Rodgers suffered another defeat at Rugby Park (Steve Welsh/PA) Brendan Rodgers suffered another defeat at Rugby Park (Steve Welsh/PA)

There were some big storylines on a rain-soaked weekend of cinch Premiership action.

Celtic’s lead at the top was cut to five points following defeat at Kilmarnock, 24 hours after Rangers beat Dundee 3-1.

St Mirren and Aberdeen also recorded significant wins to get back on track, while Hibernian moved up to fourth in the table.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five things we learned from the weekend’s action.

Brendan Rodgers’ Rugby Park strife continues

Rodgers suffered his first league defeat of his second spell in charge when Killie came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to Matty Kennedy’s late strike. The Celtic manager suffered his first domestic cup defeat in Scotland at the same venue in August. In two spells at Parkhead, Rodgers has now suffered 10 domestic defeats and four of them have come at Rugby Park.

Rangers’ absentee list grows

Jose Cifuentes (centre)
Jose Cifuentes (centre) Jose Cifuentes (centre) was sent off (Steve Welsh/PA)

Ibrox boss Philippe Clement does not have his selection worries to seek ahead of a big week which includes a Europa League decider against Real Betis and the Viaplay Cup final against Aberdeen. Midfielders Nico Raskin, Ryan Jack and Tom Lawrence and striker Danilo missed the victory over Dundee and midfielder Jose Cifuentes will be suspended for the Hampden clash after being sent off for a challenge on Dundee goalscorer Amadou Bakayoko, although Clement is considering an appeal.

Late shows saving Stuart Kettlewell

The Motherwell manager might have been facing serious questions over his future had Mika Biereth not headed a stoppage-time equaliser against St Johnstone. It was a 13th game without a win but the Steelmen were well worth the draw and Kettlewell will surely live to fight another day. It is increasingly clear how important the late goals are though – six of Motherwell’s 15 points have come from 90th-minute goals and a further two points from an 85th-minute goal.

Livingston are in freefall

David Martindale’s side suffered a seventh-consecutive loss when Martin Boyle hit the only goal for Hibernian. The run is a long way short of Livingston’s 13-game losing streak on their way to relegation from the top flight in 2006 but they have now slipped five points adrift. St Johnstone survived the past two seasons after eight and then six-game losing runs and Martindale retains belief his side can similarly bounce back.

VAR’s scope again comes into question

Dundee manager Tony Docherty felt the video assistants should not have advised a penalty review and presented referee Kevin Clancy with only a partial picture of a shirt pull on Rangers striker Abdallah Sima. Docherty said: “The image presented to Kevin Clancy favours the penalty being given but the reality is, there is bustling in the box, Sima has hold of Aaron Donnelly’s shirt and Kevin Clancy deemed that to be OK. It’s difficult because we are re-refereeing games. Kevin Clancy’s positioning is good and it’s not a clear and obvious error. My problem with it is the image he gets shown. If I see that image I’d give a penalty-kick but you need to take it into context.” Rangers took the lead from the spot and have now been awarded eight penalties in their last nine Premiership games, several of them for shirt pulls which have been highlighted by VAR officials.