Football: Rangers set to reclaim the title

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The Independent Online
RANGERS WILL travel to Celtic next Sunday knowing that a victory will allow the Ibrox club to reclaim the Scottish Premier League title from their bitter Glasgow rivals.

Last night's 3-1 home win for Rangers over Aberdeen gave them a seven- point lead over second-placed Celtic at the top of the table. Three more points next weekend will mean the Scottish title going to Ibrox for the 48th time.

Aberdeen struck first with a neat goal from Mark Perry, but Rangers soon equalised with a penalty from Gabriel Amato, after Rod Wallace had been felled by Derek Whyte.

Early in the second half Whyte was again the villain when he deflected a shot by Rangers' former Manchester United winger, Andrei Kanchelskis, past Tony Warner in the Aberdeen goal. Wallace, set up by a fine pass from Amato, added a slick third goal.

Celtic's quest to retain their title suffered what looks like being a decisive blow on Saturday, when they went down 1-0 at St Johnstone.

The Perth outfit secured their third league win over Celtic this season, courtesy of Keith O'Halloran's stunning 55th-minute diving header at McDiarmid Park.

"We know it is going to be very difficult now, but we will give our all to the end of the season," the Celtic defender Alan Stubbs said. For St Johnstone, the three points lifted them to within a point of third-placed Kilmarnock in the battle for what is now a confirmed Uefa Cup spot for that finishing position.

The Leicester City defender Matt Elliott last night pulled out of the Scotland squad to play Germany in Wednesday's friendly in Bremen.

Elliott suffered knee ligament damage in his club's 1-0 Premiership victory against Coventry on Saturday. His absence is another blow for the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, who has already lost David Hopkin of Leeds with an ankle injury. The Celtic pair Craig Burley and Jackie McNamara are both doubtful for the friendly against the European champions.

"I won't bring in any replacements at the moment but if we suffer any more withdrawals then I will have to reconsider my position," Brown said: "We are not bad for cover at the back, with the likes of Paul Ritchie, Colin Hendry, David Weir and Tom Boyd."