Hooper hat-trick keeps Bhoys in touch
Gary Hooper scored a hat-trick as Celtic moved four points behind SPL leaders Rangers with a 5-0 win over St Mirren at Celtic Park.
Georgios Samaras opened the scoring after seven minutes, cutting in from the left and driving a shot from 16 yards straight through goalkeeper Craig Samson and over the line. And three minutes later the lead was doubled when Hooper turned in Anthony Stokes' low cross from close range.
The hosts were rampant for much of the opening period, but complacency appeared to creep in as half time approached, and St Mirren came back into the game. Yet Hooper killed off any suggestions of a fightback just before the hour with a superb turn and shot, then completed his hat-trick with an inventive chip over Samson.
Substitute Dylan McGeough saved the best until last, netting a tremendous solo effort after bamboozling the visiting rearguard. Rangers have the chance to respond to their rivals' efforts when they play Kilmarnock on Sunday.
New Hibernian boss Pat Fenlon was left in no doubt over the task ahead of him as St Johnstone ran out 3-1 winners at McDiarmid Park. Fenlon watched on from the stands as caretaker manager Billy Brown was unable to stop Steve Lomas recording a maiden home victory in charge of St Johnstone.
A first Hibs goal for Richie Towell got the visitors off the mark on the half hour, the Irishman sending a shot squirming through the hands of Peter Enckelman after the Finn had done well to save from Leigh Griffiths. Fifteen minutes later the Saints were level, striker Francisco Sandaza profiting from David Stephen's error. Before Hibernian could regroup at the interval, they found themselves behind when Marcus Haber met Dave Mackay's cross.
Mackay turned from provider to scorer minutes after the restart, forcing the ball home from a free kick as St Johnstone kept the pressure on the top three.
Aberdeen scored twice in the last ten minutes to salvage a 3-3 draw against Dunfermline at East End Park. The Dons got the reward their first-half dominance deserved on the stroke of half-time as Andrew Considine nodded in a corner from Fraser Fyvie. However, Craig Brown's side were made to pay for their lack of a cutting edge when Andrew Barrowman tapped in after David Gonzalez had saved from Andy Kirk.
And with Aberdeen still reeling from that shock setback, David Graham thundered a 70th-minute strike home to turn the game on its head, shortly before Liam Buchanan looked to have earned Dunfermline three points by scoring with his first touch.
However, the Dons had other ideas. On 81 minutes Alex Keddie inadvertently knocked a Rob Milsom delivery into his own net, then with two minutes left Josh Magennis' shot ensured the spoils were shared.
Goals from Rudi Skacel and Eggert Jonsson, either side of a strike from Ross Tokely, earned Hearts a 2-1 triumph at home to Inverness, who remain bottom of the table.
Motherwell and Dundee United played out a 0-0 draw at Fir Park.