Thrown firecracker mires Celtic march to eighth straight title

Celtic took another step closer to an eighth straight Scottish Premiership title on Wednesday, but a 2-0 victory over St Mirren was overshadowed by the throwing of a firecracker by the travelling support which left the hosts' goalkeeper needing treatment for a suspected burst eardrum.

Timothy Weah headed in the opener after 14 minutes before Buddies goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky saved an Olivier Ntcham penalty.

The visitors did not seal the points until five minutes from time when Ryan Christie's strike maintained Celtic's 13-point lead at the top of the table with just six games remaining.

However, another good night on the field for Neil Lennon's men was overshadowed by another incident of crowd trouble in Scottish football as the firecracker was thrown onto the pitch after Christie's goal.

Hladky had to be treated for a suspected burst eardrum and Lennon condemned the behaviour of the Celtic support.

"It serves no purpose in a football ground," said the caretaker manager.

"I don't see the motivation for anyone to bring a flashbang or pyrotechnic into a stadium.

"The health and safety of the players and officials is paramount. It didn't just spook the St Mirren keeper but some of our players too."

Celtic's Scott Sinclair had a glass bottle thrown at him in a 2-0 win Scottish Cup win at Hibernian last month, while Rangers captain James Tavernier was also confronted by a Hibs fan in February.

And St Mirren boss Oran Kearney admitted he had been tempted to take his players off the field.

"It is crazy to think we might have had to use an outfield player in goal," said Kearney.

"It is mad to think of how that possibly could have ended up.

"You are tempted to walk your team off the pitch."

Rangers increased their grip on second place by bouncing back from Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Celtic with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Hearts at Ibrox.

Jermain Defoe, deputising for the suspended Alfredo Morelos after his fifth red card of the season at the weekend, opened the scoring and Connor Goldson put Rangers two ahead inside 21 minutes.

Scott Arfield finished off the contest two minutes after the break as Steven Gerrard's men opened up an eight-point lead over Kilmarnock and Aberdeen.

Rangers' top scorer Morelos is banned for a further three matches and Gerrard hinted that he may struggle to get back in the side due to his ill-discipline if Defoe continues to score goals.

"I said to him 'play well, score goals, and you will get a run in the team'," said Gerrard.

"If he continues to play well and score goals, it will be interesting in three games' time."

Kilmarnock were held 0-0 by Hibernian at Easter Road as the Edinburgh side secured their place in the top six for the final five games of the season.

Aberdeen moved level on points with Killie in the battle for third as Niall McGinn scored twice in the final 19 minutes to secure a 3-1 win over Motherwell.

Dundee remain two points behind St. Mirren at the bottom of the table as they lost 2-0 at St Johnstone and Hamilton are also still in the relegation battle after a 2-0 defeat at Livingston.

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