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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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Celtic defeated Hearts 2-1 at Hampden Park this afternoon in the Scottish Cup Semi Final.

The Scottish Champions were looking to get revenge following last week's 2-0 loss at the hands of the Edinburgh side in the SPL and within 3 minutes, Chris Sutton had made it 1-0.

The Englishman rose above the Hearts defenders to meet Alan Thompson's cross and fire the Hoops into the lead.

The scoreline stayed at 1-0 into the second half with Celtic dominating the match.

And on 48 minutes, they were two goals in front.

Craig Bellamy turned and shot low past Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon's near post.

Hearts tried to get back into the game and their efforts paid off when substitute Deividas Cesnuaskis scored a magnificent lob over David Marshall with unhder 20 minutes remaining.

But the Jambos couldn't get find the goal to force a replay and it will be Celtic who face Dundee United in the Scottish Cup Final next month after they fought back from a goal down to beat Hibs 2-1 yesterday.

The occasion was marred before kick off when sections of the Hearts support failed to show respect to the passing of Pope John Paul II and forced referee Stuart Dougal to cut the minute silence short.

Craig Bellamy was awarded with the Man of the Match in which around 39,000 attended.
Blackburn consider Bellamy swoop


Blackburn manager Mark Hughes is willing to offer Craig Bellamy a permanent escape route from Newcastle.
The 25-year-old Wales striker joined Celtic on loan in January until the end of the season following his fall-out with Magpies boss Graeme Souness.

However, former Wales manager Hughes is hoping to raise the £5m needed to land Bellamy but faces opposition from the Glasgow giants.

He said: "I made an enquiry in January and it's something I'll look at again."

Hughes told The Sun newspaper: "It is Newcastle's decision whether they want to keep Craig, but he is a player I obviously know well from my time as Wales manager.

"A striker is something for the summer and the sooner we can secure our Premiership status, the sooner we can plan for the future.

"We will look at a number of players in the summer."

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell, who is understood to be in talks with Newcastle to make Bellamy's move permanent, said: "Craig has been a huge success and everyone at Celtic is delighted with him.

"He has fitted in brilliantly and we have no complaints about him on or off the park. The board know the fans would love him to stay - we want him to stay too."