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Jan 14, 2012

Jelavic brace spares Rangers' blushes

Nikica Jelavic did his chances of securing a January move no harm after two goals helped Rangers scraped to a 2-1 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Ally McCoist: Our performance was solid

Jelavic, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League, with both Liverpool and QPR reportedly interested in the Croatian, set Rangers on course for victory in the 24th minute.

Sone Aluko collected a quick free-kick from Steven Davis and weaved his way into the box before unleashing a shot which was blocked, before Jelavic pounced to stab home from close range.

St Johnstone pulled themselves back in the match after 68 minutes when Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra diverted the ball into his own net when Liam Craig's cross was nodded down towards goal by Marcus Haber and deflected by Bocanegra past reserve goalkeeper Neil Alexander.

But Jelavic ensured Gers took all three points back to Ibrox when he bundled the ball over the line with ten minutes to go after Murray Davidson could only head Aluko's free-kick onto his own crossbar.

However, Celtic remain two points clear at the top of the SPL after a 2-1 win over Dundee United at Celtic Park. Gary Hooper gave Neil Lennon's men the lead after 12 minutes before Victor Wanyama doubled the Bhoys' advantage five minutes later, heading Emilio Izaguirre's cross home from close range.

John Rankin kept United in the game, pulling one back for the visitors shortly after half-time, his long range effort beating an outstretched Fraser Forster, but Celtic held firm to claim an 11th straight league victory.

Rudi Skacel scored a hat-trick as 10-man Hearts moved up to third with a 5-2 win over St Mirren at Tynecastle. Skacel scored the winner to secure all three points for the hosts, who played much of the game with 10 men following Marius Zaliukas' red card.

Zaliukas gave Hearts an early lead, heading the hosts ahead within seconds of the kick-off at Tynecastle, but the Lithuanian was soon heading for the tunnel after he was given his marching orders after hauling down Paul McGowan in the penalty area.

McGowan dusted himself off to score from the spot before St Mirren made their numerical advantage count with Steven Thompson meeting a cross to give the Buddies the lead. However, their lead was shortlived as Skacel clawed the Jambos back into the match with a 30-yard thunderbolt.

Skacel netted the winner shortly after the hour mark, firing another long range effort low past Buddies keeper Craig Samson before completing his hat-trick three minutes later, while John Sutton put the icing on the cake in the final minute of a memorable win at Tynecastle.

Hearts leapfrogged Motherwell into third place after Inverness Caledonian Thistle claimed a 1-0 win at Fir Park. Gregory Tade scored his eighth goal of the season to claim all three points for Terry Butcher's men.

In the battle at the bottom, Leigh Griffiths grabbed a late winner as Hibernian came from behind to beat relegation rivals Dunfermline Athletic 3-2 at East End Park. Andy Kirk gave Pars an early lead, shaking off his marker to head home Joe Cardle's cross in the 14th minute, but Griffiths curled home from a tight angle after the Dunfermline defence failed to clear their lines.

Griffiths turned provider as Hibs took the lead for the first time when Garry O'Connor smashed home from close range after a swift counter-attack from Griffiths and Callum Booth. O'Connor's 74th-minute striker was cancelled out by Liam Buchanan, who thought he had earned a point for Dunfermline, but Griffiths netted his second two minutes later to secure all three points for Hibs.

Aberdeen and Kilmarnock played out a goalless draw at Pittodrie

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