Celtic hopes sunk

Raith 1 Craig 90 Celtic 1 Di Canio 88 Attendance: 7,912
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CELTIC'S lingering title hopes vanished after a dramatic finish at Stark's Park yesterday. The Italian star Paulo Di Canio looked to have snatched victory for Tommy Burns' men when he put Celtic ahead just two minutes from time but, in injury time, the central defender David Craig grabbed an equaliser.

Burns said: "We did not deserve to win the match and if we had done we would have stolen it. It would have been an injustice if we had gone away with all three points. It was a very poor performance and it looked as if too many players thought we had a mountain to climb in the championship."

Until that amazing finale the match looked destined to finish goalless after Celtic's pressure failed to penetrate Raith's resolute defence. It might have been different if the referee Bobby Tait had awarded a penalty when Di Canio appeared to be tripped by Janne Makela after just four minutes.

Celtic lost their skipper Paul McStay with a groin strain after nine minutes, but the visitors dominated the early stages without testing Scott Thomson. Raith forced their way back into the game, and a Peter Duffield header brought a save from Stewart Kerr.

Celtic introduced their new pounds 2.3m striker Tommy Johnson at the start of the second half, and, although he showed some nice touches, the match looked to be running away from the Parkhead side. Indeed, Tony Rougier almost got the breakthrough for Raith when he struck a tremendous shot against the base of the post after 83 minutes.

Celtic's frantic efforts to keep up the pressure on Rangers finally looked to have paid off after 88 minutes when Johnson sent a cross swinging to the back post where Di Canio smashed home an unstoppable volley.

But the Celtic fans' cheers were stifled just seconds from time when Paul Harvey chipped a free-kick into the box and Craig rose to flick the ball over the stranded Kerr for the equaliser.

The point gives Raith hope in the battle against the drop, but Celtic are now nine points adrift of Rangers. The championship is surely lost.