SPFL: Hibs leave it late on opening day

Motherwell and Livingston ends level while champions Celtic put seven past St Johnstone on opening day of 2019/20 Scottish Premiership season

Last Updated: 03/08/19 11:02pm

Hibernian’s Scott Allan (right) celebrates the opener with Stevie Mallan and Florian Kamberi
Hibernian’s Scott Allan (right) celebrates the opener with Stevie Mallan and Florian Kamberi

Scott Allan scored a late winner to get Hibernian off to a winning start in the Ladbrokes Premiership in a closely-fought 1-0 victory over St Mirren.

The Easter Road favourite drove a shot past Vaclav Hladky five minutes from time to seal a 1-0 result for the hosts, who started with a total of five new summer recruits in the side.

It had been a frustrating afternoon for Hibernian up until that point as they struggled to score through a combination of poor finishing, the post and the offside flag.

St Mirren, who handed full debuts to Sam Foley and Sean McLoughlin following their arrival in midweek, played their part too, with winger Ilkay Durmus making Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano work, but they were cruelly denied a point at the death.

Ross County unfurled the Championship flag and then celebrated their return to the top-flight with a commanding 3-0 victory over Hamilton.

First-half goals from Joe Chalmers and Billy McKay and another from Ross Stewart early in the second period wrapped up an impressive 3-0 victory on the eve of the 25th anniversary of County’s first Scottish League match.

Billy McKay wheels away having made it 2-0 to Ross County
Billy McKay wheels away having made it 2-0 to Ross County

Motherwell goalkeeper Mark Gillespie shone at the Tony Macaroni Arena as the Steelmen kicked off their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign with a 0-0 draw against Livingston.

The Lions enjoyed the better opportunities during an attritional affair in West Lothian but found the former Carlisle number one in inspired form between the sticks for the visitors.

Gillespie, 27, made brilliant blocks to deny Aymen Souda, Scott Pittman and, in particular, Nicky Devlin to ensure a point for his team.

Motherwell will ruefully reflect on a wonderful fingertip save by Ross Stewart from Jake Carroll and a decent late chance which was passed up by Declan Gallagher – however, they struggled to impose themselves against Gary Holt’s side.

Ryan Christie struck a long-range hat-trick as Celtic began their latest Scottish Premiership title defence with a 7-0 demolition of St Johnstone.

Ryan Christie celebrates with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick in Celtic's 7-0 victory
Ryan Christie celebrates with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick in Celtic’s 7-0 victory

The Scotland international took his tally for the season to six goals in five matches with a brilliant performance as the champions ensured they topped the table on the opening day.

Christie also set up a ninth-minute opener for Mikey Johnston and goals from Odsonne Edouard and substitutes Olivier Ntcham and Leigh Griffiths completed the rout.

The only downside to Celtic’s day was a thigh injury for Hatem Abd Elhamed, whose debut lasted 50 minutes before he limped off for Anthony Ralston. The right-back will now be a major doubt for the first leg of Celtic’s third Champions League qualifier against Cluj on Wednesday.

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Source : Sky Sports