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Hibs win dents Celtic's title run

Scott Brown
Garry O'Connor
Mark Wilson
David Marshall

GLASGOW, Scotland -- Hibernian threw Rangers an unexpected lifeline in the Scottish title race with a 3-1 win over leaders Celtic at Parkehead.

Garry O'Connor put the third placed side ahead before Celtic substitute Craig Beattie leveled the scores just after half-time.

Late goals fron Ivan Sproule and Scott Brown gave Hibs a famous victory. Rangers can close to within two points if they beat Aberdeen on Sunday.

For the third home game in a row Celtic found themselves behind to an early goal. Derek Riordan's cute back-heel released Brown who broke forward with the ball from his own half and played in O'Connor.

The 21-year-old Hibs striker cut inside Slovakian defender Stanislav Varga and blasted home from close range to give the Edinburgh side the lead in the sixth minute.

The home side were enjoying the majority of possession but Tony Mowbray's side were looking dangerous on the break and in the 30th minute Antonio Murray forced Celtic keeper David Marshall into a good save with a driven shot from the edge of the penalty box.

Celtic had another good opportunity to level things in the 34th minute when Hibs keeper Brown could only punch Aiden McGeady's cross into the path of Balde but from 16-yards the defender volleyed over.

And just before half-time Hartson had a glorious opportunity to make it all square when he controlled McNamara's long-ball on his chest, turned to towards goal but from only five meters he could only smash a shot into the side netting.

However, a half-time substitution paid off for Celtic in the 49th minute. Stilian Petrov chipped the ball towards the back post from wide on the left, Joos Valgaeren headed back across goal and replacement Beattie volleyed home from five meters out.

And three minutes later the Parkhead side should have been ahead when Hibs keeper Brown dropped a Thompson cross into the path of Balde but the big defender pulled his shot wide.

Brown kept his side level with a terrific save in the 66th minute when he somehow got his hands to Hartson's glancing header which looked to be heading into the top corner of the net.

And in the 78th minute Hibernian restored their lead when Sproule, who had replaced Derek Riordan six minutes earlier, burst through on goal and drove the ball under Marshall.

The Celtic fans were stunned by the goal, but a minute later things were to get even worse when their side fell further behind.

Antonio Murray collected the ball on the half-way line and played a sliding ball to put Scott Brown through one-on-one with Marshall and he fired home to secure all three points.

In the other SPL games on Saturday Dundee United won the final Dundee derby of the season with a 2-1 win at Dens Park.

United's Mark Wilson put them ahead at the start of the second-half but Stevie Lovell equalized from the penalty spot.

However, Jim McIntyre restored the visitors lead to give United all three points. Dundee's Tom McManus was sent off near the end.

Hearts and Motherwell fought out a goalless draw at Tynecastle though Well's Richie Foran missed a first-half penalty.

Livingston won 2-0 in their bottom of the table clash at home to Dunfermline with goals from Burton O'Brian and James McPate in either half given them the points.

And Kilmarnock won 2-1 away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle with Gary McDonald and a Peter Leven penalty given them the points with Ross Tokely's first half-penalty briefly leveling the game.

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