Sport

Celtic remove Palestinian flags from stadium before Scott Brown tribute

Celtic removed a display of Palestinian flags from their stadium after accusing some fans of exploiting a chance to pay tribute to Scott Brown. The club opened Celtic Park to allow fans to display messages for the captain before Wednesday night’s visit of St Johnstone, which was the last home match of his 14-year spell at Parkhead before moving to Aberdeen.

Celtic won 4-0, but some supporters took the opportunity to display flags after dozens of Palestinians died in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza amid heightening violence in the Middle East.

A Celtic statement read: “We had invited supporters to pay tribute to our club captain, Scott Brown, by giving them the opportunity to display their own banners in the stadium.

“Unfortunately a small group, which was given access in good faith, has attempted to exploit this opportunity, taken advantage of an occasion intended for our club captain, Scott Brown, and used it for a different purpose. Clearly this is unacceptable and the display was immediately taken down by the club.”

After the match St Johnstone’s manager, Callum Davidson, admitted he was very concerned about his Scottish Cup final plans after losing more players to Covid-related issues. Already without four self-isolating players before Sunday’s semi-final win against St Mirren, Davidson had only a 16-man squad for Celtic Park with Zander Clark, Liam Gordon, Michael O’Halloran and Ali McCann dropping out.

Davidson will now seek more guidance to ensure they do not suffer any more blows before they face Hibernian on 22 May. “It’s very concerning,” he said. “We followed government guidelines and it’s paramount we keep them safe.

“We’ll get three or four of the players back tomorrow [Thursday] which is great. We must try to stamp it out and we can’t let it fester until next week.”

Davidson is still hopeful he will have a full squad for Hampden minus the injured Scott Tanser. His side remain fifth in the Scottish Premiership, ahead of Livingston on goal difference, before their meeting on Saturday.

Celtic’s win proved a fitting send-off for Scott Brown and the Aberdeen-bound captain set up their second goal with a long diagonal ball to Odsonne Édouard. David Turnbull had opened the scoring 60 seconds earlier and both Kristoffer Ajer and Karamoko Dembele scored in the later stages.

Hibernian win at Aberdeen to seal third-place finish
Christian Doidge’s first-half goal ensured Hibernian will finish the Scottish Premiership season in third place as they beat Aberdeen 1-0. The Welshman’s strike on the half-volley just before the interval at Pittodrie means Aberdeen can no longer catch their Edinburgh rivals.

Meanwhile Hamilton’s seven-year stay in the Premiership is all but over after a 2-1 defeat by Ross County in their relegation battle in Dingwall. After a slow start to the match, Scott McMann’s free-kick opener for Accies after 26 minutes was cancelled out two minutes later by Blair Spittal’s drive. Charlie Lakin’s terrific strike in the 70th minute gave the home side a crucial win to leave Brian Rice’s team three points behind second-bottom Kilmarnock but with an inferior goal difference of 18 with one fixture remaining. Hamilton host Kilmarnock on Sunday while the Staggies, three points ahead of Killie, are at Motherwell and need a point to avoid the relegation play-off spot.

Kilmarnock’s bid to preserve their Scottish Premiership status and avoid the play-off will go down to the final day following their 3-3 draw with St Mirren. Killie will need to beat Hamilton on Sunday and hope Ross County, who they trail by three points, lose to Motherwell if they are to clinch 10th place and automatic safety.

Tommy Wright’s men are in the play-off position but their vastly superior goal difference over the bottom club, Hamilton, means they will not be overhauled by Accies. But Kilmarnock will be frustrated they did not pick up three points against St Mirren after Kyle Lafferty’s double put them two up but they were pegged back in the second half through goals from Jamie McGrath and Cammy MacPherson. They reclaimed the lead with eight minutes remaining through a Greg Kiltie volley but less than a minute later Collin Quaner drew St Mirren level once again.

And in the Premiership play-off semi-final, Dundee seized the initiative with a 3-0 win at Raith Rovers. A Jordan McGhee double either side of the break and an Osman Sow goal six minutes from time left Rovers with a mountain to climb going into Saturday’s second leg at Dens Park, with the Dark Blues dreaming of a top-flight return after a dominant display.