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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec, 23, 2006

SPL: Celtic extend lead, Rangers go second

GLASGOW, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Celtic extended their lead in the Scottish Premier League to 16 points with a 1-0 home win over Falkirk while Rangers moved up to second with a 2-1 victory at Aberdeen on Saturday.

A hotly-disputed first half goal from Thomas Gravesen secured the points for Celtic but captain Neil Lennon was sent off and Kenny Miller missed a penalty in a stormy last couple of minutes.

Gravesen rattled a 28th-minute shot into the top right hand corner of the net with Falkirk furiously protesting the Dane had used a hand to control the ball.

Lennon was brought down by Kenny Milne for the late penalty but the Celtic midfielder squared up to Milne and his Falkirk team mate Anthony Stokes over diving claims and was dismissed. Miller then hit the post from the spot.

'It was our first (penalty this season in the league) and what do we do?...we miss it,' Celtic manager Gordon Strachan told BBC Radio.

'But we are 16 points ahead in the league which is decent at this stage of the season.'

Celtic have 51 points from 20 matches while Rangers are on 35 and Aberdeen 34.

Nacho Novo and Libor Sionko struck for Rangers in quick succession midway through the first half but a late Aberdeen goal from Steve Lovell set up a frantic finish.

'We had to show great team spirit and managed to get a very good result. We carry on our good run of games and I am pleased,' said Rangers manager Paul Le Guen.

Hearts won 1-0 at Dundee United with a Paul Hartley penalty while Hibernian crushed St Mirren 5-1. Bottom club Dunfermline Athletic drew 0-0 at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle and had striker Stevie Crawford sent off after 78 minutes.

Kilmarnock lost 2-1 at home to Motherwell in a game which yielded three red cards.

The visitors had Jim Paterson sent off after 56 minutes while Kilmarnock's Garry Hay and Motherwell's David Clarkson were dismissed in the final minute.

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