Celtic, Rangers recover from slow starts for comfortable wins

Odsonne Edouard (left) scored twice in Celtic's 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Celtic Park. — AFP

GLASGOW — Celtic maintained their 100 percent start to the Scottish Premiership season after conceding early on to beat Kilmarnock 3-1 on Sunday at Celtic Park.

Rangers also started slowly away at St. Johnstone, but blew away the hosts after the break to win 4-0 in Perth and remain just three points behind their arch rivals after six games.

Both of the Glasgow giants had been in Europa League action on Thursday and Rangers manager Steven Gerrard bemoaned the scheduling of an early Sunday start for both sides.

Fatigued by their efforts in Europe, both Celtic and Rangers started slowly with Kilmarnock taking the lead in Glasgow through Eamonn Brophy.

However, Neil Lennon's men settled any nerves just before the break when Odsonne Edouard powered home James Forrest's cross.

Edouard struck again early in the second half to put the Scottish champions in front and Ryan Christie made the points safe from close range just before the hour mark.

"It was a superb performance. Some of the play 15-20 minutes after half-time was outstanding," said Lennon.

"I'm getting everything from this team that I want at the minute.

"This came off the back of a really good performance on Thursday. We've cemented our league form with a brilliant display today."

Rangers posed little threat in the first 45 minutes at McDiarmid Park, but never looked in trouble once Alfredo Morelos fired high into the net just two minutes into the second period.

"I asked them for more in the second half and I certainly got it," said Gerrard.

"We looked hungry, full of running and full of energy and could have scored a few more goals."

Connor Goldson's header then doubled the visitors' advantage before Gerrard introduced Jermain Defoe for Morelos 11 minutes from time.

That was still enough time for the 36-year-old to score twice as Defoe finished off a counter-attack from a St. Johnstone corner to make it 3-0 before an emphatic finish in the final minute rounded off the scoring.

At the other end of the table, Hearts handed manager Craig Levein a lifeline by coming from behind to win the Edinburgh derby 2-1 at Hibs.

Levein's job was under severe pressure after a winless start to the season, but goals from Uche Ikpeazu and Aaron Hickey after Stevie Mallan had given Hibs the lead took Hearts off the foot of the table. — AFP