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Dec, 28, 2011

Ledley fires Bhoys to the summit

Celtic will head into 2012 at the top of the SPL table after claiming a 1-0 win over rivals Rangers in the Old Firm derby at a windswept Parkhead.

Neil Lennon's Celtic were 15 points adrift of Rangers earlier in the season, but they have chipped away in recent weeks and a towering header from Joe Ledley at the start of the second half was enough to take them past Ally McCoist's men and seal their ninth win on the spin.

In a game played in horrible conditions on account of a swirling wind, it was a match of few chances and it was a Ledley header from a Charlie Mulgrew corner that settled the outcome.

Rangers failed to fashion a response, but may feel hard done by as they had what appeared to be a legitimate goal not given in the first half.

The goal-line technology debate is likely to rear its head again, as the Gers felt they had taken the lead on seven minutes. Lee Wallace stooped to meet a Sone Aluko cross and sent the ball goalwards. Fraser Forster scrambled across his line to claw the ball out. Replays appeared to suggest the ball had crossed the line, but the linesman was unsighted and Celtic breathed a sigh of relief.

The swirling wind was a concern for the keepers and Allan McGregor was embarrassed on 17 minutes when failing to handle a shot. Georgios Samaras was on hand to poke home the rebound, but he was rightly flagged for offside.

A huge chance dropped to Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra on 25 minutes but he turned the ball over from five yards.

James Forrest was a menace throughout and a dipping drive from 20 yards forced a fine save from McGregor. From the resulting corner, McGregor was powerless as Ledley outmuscled Kirk Broadfoot before planting a powerful header into the top corner.

Celtic withstood a late surge from Rangers, although their evening was soured by an injury to Baram Kayal who left the field on a stretcher following a clash with Lee McCulloch.

St Johnstone kept up their quest for European football by claiming a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock. Francisco Sandaza was the hero with two first-half goals.

Hibernian continue to flirt with danger and could only take a point in a 1-1 draw with fellow strugglers Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Hibs took an early lead through Garry O'Connor but Jonathan Hayes earned a point with a goal before the break.

Hearts passed up the chance to close in on the top four after being held to a 0-0 draw at Aberdeen.

Dundee United battled back on two occasions to earn a 2-2 draw at St Mirren.

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