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Celtic manager reportedly to step down

CELTIC manager Martin O’Neill is expected to announce his resignation from the club on Wednesday, it is being reported.

The departure of O'Neill was widely expected following news his wife's poor health.

News of the expected announcement, which will add to fans' misery, comes only days after the Glasgow side relinquished the Premierleague championship to their Old Firm rival Rangers in a dramatic conclusion to the title race.

Celtic led Motherwell, 1-0, and were on course to claim the title, until the final minutes of the game when two shock goals from Scott McDonald ended the Glasgow side's championship dreams. Rangers, who defeated Hibernian 1-0, then lifted the trophy to the surprise and delight of their fans.

Celtic will hope to take something from a disappointing finish to the season when they face Dundee United in the Tennents' Scottish Cup final on Saturday. Even a victory here will not assuage the fans' sense of loss if their iconic manager announces his departure, which was being reported on television.

Gordon Strachan, the former Scotland star and Southampton manager, is widely being tipped to replace O'Neill.

By BRENDAN O'BRIEN
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From Scotsman
A Celtic win today would give them a 5 point cushoin at the top of the SPL.

Alex McLeish decided to gamble on deeply Religious Marvin Andrews after he had refused surgery on a cruciate ligament injury.

Thomas Buffel was moved down to the bench because of his comments about the nature of Scottish football.

Celtic had the return of their winger, Didier Agathe back in their squad for the first time since the last Old Firm game in February when Celtic lost 2-0.

Celtic started brightly and Bellamy soon scared the home team with a run that was well saved at his feet by Rangers Goalkeeper, Ronald Waterreus.

Celtic took the lead on 21 minutes though, after John Hartson knocked down, Didier Agathe crossed in for Stilian Petrov to head in. However, the Bulgarian midfielder was struck with a Coca Cola carton thrown by a Rangers fan.

From a Fernando Ricksen curling free kick, Rangers Greek Defender, Kyrgiakos missed a cracking chance by heading into the hands of the Celtic Goalkeeper, David Marshall from only five yards.

The Greek defender looked foolish when Craig Bellamy controlled a through ball from Alan Thompson and then turned inside Kyrgiakos and fired into the back of the net from the edge of the box into the far corner of the Rangers goal to make it 2-0 to Celtic.

Rangers then started threatening and Dado Prso's superb shot from the edge of the box forced David Marshall into a finger tip save and Marvin Andrews rattled the crossbar after David Marshall struggling to get rid of the Rangers corner just before half time.

Craig Bellamy walked off attracting missiles from the home crowd after injuring his hamstring. He was replaced by fellow Craig, Beattie.

Beattie should have made the game beyond doubt after being clear on goal, but his shot was curled over into row z!

Nacho Novo was struggling to score at the Celtic End and continued the trend by having his shot cleared off the line by Celtic Captain, Jackie McNamara.

Kyrgiakos then saw his header cleared...
Stan Petrov and Craig Bellamy scored two sublime goals in the first half of today's Old Firm derby to hand Celtic a 2-1 victory at Ibrox.

Stephen Thompson's goal in the last few minutes of the game gave Rangers a lifeline but the Scottish champions held out.

Now the Hoops sit 5 points clear at the top of the SPL with just 4 games remaining.

The match started in a hectic manner with Celtic looking to try and bag an early goal and looking the most dangerous of the two teams.

And it wasn't too long before they did manage to get the opener, only 21 minutes into the game.

Didier Agathe's cross into the box was met by an exceptionally accurate header from Stilian Petrov giving Rangers keeper Ronald Waterreus no chance.

Petrov celebrated near the Rangers support and was struck by a missile but he was the one to be disciplined receiving a yellow card for his gesture towards the fans.

It was 2-0 around 15 minutes later - Welshman Craig Bellamy netting this time.

Alan Thompson did well in his own half to take the ball forward then played a wonderful pass onto Bellamy.

The on-loan striker went past Krygiakos and curled an inch-perfect shot into Waterreus' left hand post.

Bellamy also celebrated in front of the Rangers support although he might feel the booking Stuart Dougal delivered was unnecessary.

Rangers tried to find a way back into the match before half time with Dado Prso having an effort saved by David Marshall as well as a Marvin Andrews header rocketing off the cross-bar.

Into the second half and Celtic's excellent first half took a heavy blow when Craig Bellamy pulled up with a hamstring problem just minutes after the restart.

Craig Beattie came on to replace him as more objects were thrown onto the field at the departing Wales international.

The sub had his fair share of chances and was denied by Waterreus' leg at point blank range as well as blasting a glorious opportunity over the bar from around 25 yards out....
Celtic's bid for the SPL crown almost took another turn this afternoon after visitors Aberdeen found themselves 2-0 up within 15 minutes at Celtic Park.

Zander Diamond and Darren Mackie gave the Dons their advantage early on in the first half to the shock of the 59,000 supporters who attended the match.

But, unlike Celtic's previous home game against Hearts where they lost 2-0, the Scottish champions battled back and Stanislav Varga nodded home before the break.

Minutes after the interval, Celtic were on level terms thanks to good work by Didier Agathe to allow Hartson to net the equaliser.

Craig Bellamy intensified pressure on the Celtic board to fork out to sign him with a magnificent strike putting the Hoops 3-2 in front.

And Martin O'Neill's men held on to their advantage although there were strong claims for a penalty after Craig Bellamy was brought down in the area but the match referee saw the challenge as legal.

The Northern Irishman was delighted with his teams efforts to get back into the match.

He said: "It was a sensational game, sensational.

"It may sound like a cliche but they showed phenomenal character to come back at win the game.

"We kept at it in the second half and Bellamy scored a wonder goal. Then we were inexplicably denied a penalty. It was unbelievable."

Celtic travel to Ibrox next weekend to face Rangers in what will be the most important game of both sides' challenge for the League title.

Rangers though have a tricky visit to Dunfermline to overcome tomorrow where a win will reduce the space between them and their rivals to just 2 points.
Celtic were away at East Lothian to play Livingston who are currently fighting for survival in the SPL. The last time Celtic played Livingston away they won 4-2 and were 4-0 up before the half hour mark! Celtic were hoping for the same sort of performance tonight.

Celtic really didn't create many chances in the first half, Livingston playing defensively coping well with the Celtic attacking up until the 41st minute when the Livingston defenders looked asleep after a daflection off Livi's McNamee, meaning Hartson buried the ball into the corner.

On the 54th minute Bellamy's pace took him towards the Livingston keeper and the keeper, Roddy McKenzie made a great stop to deny the Welshman.

Halfway through the second period, Jason Dair made a fantasic attempt for a Livingston equalizer. His top corner bound shot was tipped over by young Celtic goalie, David Marshall.

Hartson got his second on the 75th minute with a powerful header from an Alan Thompson corner.

Just over ten minutes later, Celtic were awarded a penalty after a clumsy tackle by a Livingston defender.
Hartson snatched the ball off Alan Thompson, Celtic's usual penalty taker to send Roddy McKenzie the wrong way.

There was still more to come from Celtic and in Stoppage time, centre-back, Stanislav Varga tapped in at the back post from a Thompson cross to make it 4-0 which it ended at.

LIVINGSTON 0-4 CELTIC
.......................Hartson 41, 75, 86 (penalty)
.......................Varga 90

Attendance: 8,750 at Almondvale, Livingston.

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