Keane opens goal account for Celtic as Rangers slump

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Roy Keane scored his first goal for Celtic last night as the Scottish Premier League leaders beat Falkirk 2-1 at Parkhead to move 10 points clear of Hearts at the top of the table and 18 clear of their Old Firm rivals, Rangers, whose renewed woes intensified as they crashed 2-0 at Aberdeen.

That result, combined with Hibernian's 7-0 thrashing of Livingston, meant that Rangers slumped back to fourth as Hibs leapfrogged them into third.

Rangers' fans have already held two protests calling for the manager Alex McLeish to be sacked, and with an Old Firm derby at Ibrox on Sunday and a Champions' League tie with Villarreal on the horizon, his job is unlikely to get much easier in the coming weeks.

Keane was making only his third start for Celtic and scored the opening goal in the 34th minute after Shaun Maloney's free-kick rebounded off a Falkirk player and into his path. The former Manchester United captain drilled home with his right foot from 22 yards.

Stephen McManus made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time before Kenny Milne hit a consolation with seven minutes to go.

Rangers were sunk by first-half goals from Jamie Smith and Steve Lovell. Hibs, who eliminated Rangers from the Scottish Cup at the weekend, maintained their fine form to trounce bottom-placed Livingston with goals from Derek Riordan and Steven Fletcher (two each), Chris Killen, Garry O'Connor and an own goal from David Mackay.

Elsewhere, Kilmarnock consolidated their place in the top five with a 2-0 win over Motherwell, while Dunfermline, who face Celtic in the CIS Cup final next month, let slip a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.