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Celtic win Scottish Premier League

Last updated on: May 23, 2008 15:07 IST

Celtic completed a remarkable recovery to win the Scottish Premier League title for the third season in a row after a 1-0 win at Dundee United on Thursday.

They finished three points clear of Rangers, who lost 2-0 at Aberdeen and had substitute Nacho Novo sent off, having trailed their Glasgow arch-rivals by seven points only last month.

Celtic striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink headed the 72nd minute winner on a dramatic last day of the season to secure their 42nd title in 120 years with 89 points from 38 games.

League Cup winners Rangers were bidding for a quadruple just over a week ago but after a 2-0 defeat by Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup final on May 14 their punishing schedule caught up with them allowing Celtic to snatch the title.

Gordon Strachan became the first Celtic manager since Jock Stein in 1974 to win three championships in succession.

"We had a challenge and we accepted it and we got on with it without complaining and I really do believe that this is one of the most satisfying nights of my life," Strachan told the BBC.

"Not (just) for me really, but for the players who have come under a lot of pressure during the season."

However, the celebrations were tinged with sadness just a week after first team coach Tommy Burns died of cancer.

EMOTIONAL TALK

Strachan pulled his players into a huddle on the pitch for an emotional talk before they hauled on T-shirts bearing a picture of Burns with the message: 'You'll Always Be With Us'.

They then soaked up the fans' adulation before the trophy, brought by helicopter to a local airport, was handed over.

Aberdeen wrecked Rangers's hopes with second-half goals from Lee Miller and Darren Mackie before Spanish striker Novo was sent off for a wild challenge on Stewart Duff after 79 minutes.

Novo's straight red card means he misses Saturday's Scottish FA Cup final against second division Queen of the South.

The exciting climax to the season took several sensational twists and turns over the final few weeks after Rangers blew a seven-point lead with one game in hand just last month.

They appeared to have the title in their grasp after a 1-0 win over Celtic on March 29 but their Glasgow rivals salvaged the season with two crucial derby wins.

Celtic enjoyed a 2-1 home success over Rangers on April 16 with a stoppage-time winner from Vennegoor of Hesselink and then a 3-2 victory 11 days later to blow the race wide open.

It was a fitting finale when the Dutch striker who saved Celtic's season grabbed the only goal against Dundee United after rising in the area to head home Paul Hartley's corner.

Source:
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