Football: Prolific Scots raise spirits

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The Independent Online
In a week when Scottish clubs were knocked out of Europe, the avalanche of goals on Saturday highlighted one of the reasons why the Scottish game is no longer rated on the Continent.

Twenty-three goals were scored in the five Premier Division matches, a result of the style of football north of the border where fancy teamwork takes second place to old-fashioned passion and commitment. The most dramatic events were at Easter Road, where Rangers came back from 3-1 down to beat Hibernian 4-3. For once, the foreign players dug deep into their reserves to give Walter Smith a fighting performance, with Marco Negri scoring twice to take his season's total to 18.

Chic Charnley, the Hibs midfielder, was struck by a coin and plastic bottles were thrown by Hibs supporters when Rangers scored their winning goal.

"Even when we were 3-1 down, I was always confident we would score but I have to admit I am dubious about whether we can keep them out at the other end," Smith said.

Rangers remain undefeated in the league but trail by a point to a Hearts side who look set to make a more determined challenge this season. Hearts beat Motherwell 4-1 while Celtic were 4-0 ahead of Kilmarnock by half- time, with Henrik Larsson contributing two goals.

Roy Aitken's problems continued. The Aberdeen manager, who was given the proverbial vote of confidence earlier in the week, watched his side lose 1-0 as St Johnstone gained their first home win of the season.

- David McKinney