GLASGOW (AP) ― Celtic opened its attempt to end Rangers’ run of three straight Scottish Premier League titles with a 2-0 win at Hibernian on Sunday.
Former Hibernian striker Anthony Stokes put Celtic ahead from close range in the 14th minute after goalkeeper Graham Stack spilled a free kick at the back post and South Korea international Ki Sung-yueng made it 2-0 in the 63rd with a shot low from the edge of the area.
Celtic could even have won by more but Stack saved a penalty by Gary Hooper moments later after Ivan Sproule tripped Emilio Izaguirre. “We were outstanding in the second half,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon said. “It was probably more than I could have expected at this stage of the season.
“We got a break with the goalkeeping mistake, but we had good control of the game and going forward we were excellent.”
Kilmarnock drew 1-1 at Dundee United in Sunday’s other match, while the opening round of matches concludes Monday with Dunfermline versus St. Mirren.
The championship opened three weeks earlier than usual to avoid a repeat of the fixture congestion caused by last winter’s severe weather.
Celtic takes an early two-point advantage over Rangers, which won its record 54th title last season by just one point. The defending champion drew 1-1 with Hearts in one of three games Saturday.
In Ally McCoist’s first match as manager of the club he represented as a striker for 15 years, Rangers needed a 58th-minute equalizer from Steven Naismith to salvage a point at Ibrox.