Hooper breaks Hearts, Inverness cruise
Gary Hooper showed why he is so highly rated by manager Neil Lennon by scoring a double in Celtic's 4-1 Scottish Premier League win over Hearts at Parkhead The Northern Irishman confirmed yesterday that the Scottish champions had rejected an offer from Norwich for the 24-year-old English striker.
Hooper slid in an Adam Matthews cross in the second minute for his 19th goal of the season. Georgios Samaras added a second 10 minutes later, but after Jason Holt pulled a goal back in the 68th minute, Hooper grabbed a third five minutes from time before substitute Lassad Nouioui added a fourth in added time.
Billy McKay's double helped second-placed Inverness cruise to a 3-0 victory against Aberdeen. Andrew Shinnie opened the scoring for the hosts nine minutes into the second half and McKay wrapped up victory with goals in the 61st and 78th minutes as Caley stayed nine points behind leaders Celtic.
Dundee United showed no ill effects from news of manager Peter Houston's planned departure as Johnny Russell struck a hat-trick to complete a deserved 3-2 comeback win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Manuel Pascali gave Kilmarnock the lead against the run of play, but Russell rewarded United's first-half dominance with an excellent finish two minutes before the break.
Russell headed United in front before completing his treble two minutes from time. Pascali headed a second goal coming in the final seconds but there was no time to push for an equaliser.
Ross County moved 12 points clear of danger at the foot of the table with a 4-1 victory over St Mirren. Richard Brittain fired the visitors ahead with an excellent 25-yard free-kick and the Highland side passed up numerous opportunities to extend their advantage during the first half.
St Mirren levelled when Steven Thompson rocketed a shot past Mark Brown from just inside the area, but it was to be the highlight of the afternoon for Danny Lennon's side. Sam Morrow took advantage of a defensive error by David Barron to restore County's lead and Ivan Sproule marked his debut with a late double. A miserable day for St Mirren was completed when Lewis Guy's late penalty was saved by Brown.
Leigh Griffiths' goal earned Hibernian a point in a 1-1 draw against bottom side Dundee. John Baird gave the visitors, 13 points adrift at the foot of the table, an eighth-minute lead at Easter Road. However Griffiths netted four minutes into the second half to earn Pat Fenlon's men a point.