Celtic go top of Premiership for derby with away win at Livingston

Celtic leapfrog Rangers at the top of the table with victory over struggling Livi.

Celtic go top of Premiership for derby with away win at Livingston SNS Group

Celtic will go into next week’s Old Firm derby at the top of the Premiership after defeating Livingston at Almondvale on Easter Sunday.

The Hoops went into the game knowing a win would mean they would arrive at Ibrox with a point advantage over their city rivals at the summit.

And a 3-0 victory in West Lothian against David Martindale’s struggling side means they once again leapfrog Rangers who have a game in hand.

Livingston on the other hand remain anchored to the bottom of the flight and staring relegation in the face with ten points separating them from 11th placed Ross County going into the last seven games.

After a pretty uneventful first-half, the champions found themselves in front early in the second thanks to an own goal from Jamie Brandon who deflected a saved effort from Reo Hatate into the net.

Paulo Bernardo then doubled the lead with just under 20 minutes remaining and Matt O’Riley secured the points when he added a third in the closing stages.

Celtic had the lion’s share of possession in the opening 45 minutes but never managed to test Livi goalkeeper Shamal George.

Hatate and Nicolas Kuhn both came close but their efforts flew wide of the target and their first shot on target came in first half injury time when George done well to produce a fingertip save from a Kyogo shot.

Kyogo also had a penalty claim turned down earlier in the half when he found himself on the ground after a challenge from Michael Devlin, but play was waved on.

It remained goalless going into the break despite the visitors enjoying over 70% of the ball.

But the second half was only three minutes old when they got themselves in front and the returning Hatate was heavily involved when his close range shot ping ponged between the goalkeeper and his defence before rebounding over the line off Brandon to make it 1-0.

Kuhn came close to doubling the lead soon after when he jinked past the full back before firing a shot towards goal that was well saved by George who palmed it behind from a corner.

George was called into action again from the set-piece when he easily saved a header from Liam Scales.

And David Martindale had his goalkeeper to thank yet again when he produced another good save, this time from Kyogo, to keep the score at 1-0 going into the last 20 minutes.

That was the Japanese forward’s last bit of action of the game and he was replaced by Idah just moments later with Yang also coming in for Kuhn.

And the game was all but finished when Paulo Bernardo fired a deflected shot past George from outside the box to make it 2-0.

O’Riley then turned the ball into the Livingston net from the edge of the area to make sure the the three points would be heading back to Glasgow.

That proved enough to seal the victory that puts them one point ahead of Philippe Clement’s side at the top of the league with Celtic having seven games remaining and Rangers having eight.

The top two sides meet on Sunday, April 7, for the penultimate derby of the season in what could prove to be vital in the race for the title.

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