Rangers overcame a potentially tricky hurdle in their Bank Of Scotland Premier pursuit of Celtic when two Claudio Reyna goals inflicted a first home defeat on third-placed Livingston.
The hosts were always on the back foot and it was no surprise when, in the 24th minute, Claudio Caniggia again broke down the right and pulled the ball back for Reyna to calmly side-foot in from 12 yards. After 59 minutes Caniggia crossed again. Nick Culkin could only parry the header and Reyna steered in his second.
Rangers ought to have had a third when Marvin Andrews brought down Tore Andre Flo and was sent off. But Flo's weak penalty to Culkin's left was easily saved.
At Pittodrie, three players were sent off as Aberdeen beat Hearts 3-2 in an ill-tempered match that referee Ian Fyfe often struggled to control.
The Dons' Ben Thornley, who had just won a penalty, was the first to see Mr Fyfe's red card for an off-the-ball incident when his side led 2–1. Hearts levelled but then had Thomas Flogel and Graeme Weir dismissed and Derek Young's goal earned the Dons their fifth consecutive win.
"I've seen better games but it was a good victory," Ebbe Skovdahl, the Dons' manager, said. "It was a very tough game with lots of duels all over the pitch. My players showed a lot of character to come back from 1-0 down."
Elsewhere, Hibernian were beaten 2-1 at home by Dundee and had John O'Neil sent off, Jack de Gier scored twice as Dunfermline recovered from a goal down at home to beat bottom of the table St Johnstone 2-1, and Motherwell's David Kelly struck in the 50th minute to earn a 1-1 draw at Dundee United.
In England, where will the 20th managerial casualty of the season be? Despite a 4-0 Nationwide First Division thrashing at home by Millwall and fans demonstrating outside the ground for the second successive home game, it will not be the bottom club Stockport County's boss Andy Kilner according to his chairman Brendan Elwood.
"Some clubs have had six managers in six years but we are not going to be like that." he said. "Chairmen are too quick to make changes these days. I am not panicking. I'm confident we will get out of this position."
Which leaves, perhaps, Walsall's Ray Graydon. The Saddlers were beaten 2-0 at Gillingham and face a hard winter. "If we continue to play in the same vein as we did in the second half then there's no question that we'll stay towards the bottom of the league," Graydon predicted.
Preston went sixth after a 1-0 win at Portsmouth. Pompey's £1.8 million Japanese international keeper, Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, was on the Fratton Park bench to see Lee Cartwright's 45th-minute strike win the match.
"We're starting to pick up points without playing that well," the Preston manager, David Moyes, admitted after this fourth consecutive win, "and we're beginning to score goals from all areas of the pitch, another good sign."
At Millmoor, Wimbledon sped into a 2-0 lead over Rotherham inside 10 minutes but the Millers were level before the break and Martin McIntosh's second-half goal won it for the Yorkshire side. It ended 3-2.
Michael Tonge scored his first goal for Sheffield United and it was enough to beat Crewe, 1-0, at Bramall Lane.
In the Second Division, the leaders Brentford won 2-1 at Reading and Luton took over at the top of the Third thanks to their 3-0 defeat of Swansea at Kenilworth Road.
Finally, congratulations to the 33-year-old Marco Gabbiadini, who scored Northampton's first goal and his 200th as they drew 3-3 at Cambridge United.Reuse content