(Reuters) – Hearts chalked up their sixth win in seven games to maintain their five-point lead in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday, while champions Celtic returned to winning ways with a 1-0 home victory over Aberdeen.
Hibernian, Hearts’ Edinburgh neighbours, climbed to second with a 1-0 win at St. Mirren, though Rangers can move back above them on goal difference if they beat Livingston on Sunday.
Surprise package Hearts dropped their first points of the season last week with a draw against Livingston and while they squandered a host of chances on Saturday they were good value for their 2-1 home win over St. Johnstone.
Manager Craig Levein praised his side for “passing a test of character” just three days after a draining League Cup quarter-final victory over Motherwell.
“This was the game I was worried about at the end of a tough week,” he told the club’s website. “We went with the same team and there’s always the worry they won’t have the same energy.”
Celtic, after picking up just a point from their last two league games, got an important win over Aberdeen thanks to substitute Scott Sinclair’s goal in the 63rd minute.
Celtic have dominated Scottish football over the last few years and are going for an eighth straight title, but with the side failing to fire on all cylinders this season, manager Brendan Rodgers said having a stout defence has been key.
“That’s seven clean sheets in eight games,” he told the club’s official website. “We’ve had a couple of years with lots of goals and records, but at times in football you also have to show a resilience and a spirit.”
Celtic are fourth on 13 points, six behind leaders Hearts.
(Writing by Peter Rutherford in Seoul; Editing by)