Hooper hits hat-trick in Hoops stroll

A Gary Hooper hat-trick helped Celtic thrash St Mirren 5-0 and move within four points of Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers.

It was the Hoops’ fifth straight win and they reiterated their title intentions in impressive style, although Rangers have a game in hand to play against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday.

The first half belonged to the much-maligned Georgios Samaras as dreadful defending by the visitors allowed him to open the scoring in the fourth minute, with Hooper grabbing his first four minutes later from close range.

The former Scunthorpe striker scored twice more early in the second half before substitute Dylan McGeouch scored his first goal for the club in the 72nd minute with a wonderful solo effort which began in his own half.

Third-placed Motherwell and Dundee United could not beat each other’s goalkeeper or the conditions during a goalless draw at Fir Park.

United had some decent chances towards the end of a scrappy first half but Darren Randolph saved well from John Rankin and Jon Daly in quick succession.

Motherwell pushed United back for much of the second half but the visitors defended their penalty box resolutely.

Steve Lomas claimed his first victory as St Johnstone manager with a 3-1 win over Hibernian as their new boss Pat Fenlon looked on.

Hibs took the lead through Richie Towell at McDiarmid Park but goals from Francisco Sandaza, Marcus Haber and Dave Mackay sealed the win for the Perth Saints.

Caretaker-boss Billy Brown was in charge of Hibs but Fenlon – appointed to the Easter Road hotseat on Friday – would have been far from impressed from his vantage point in the directors’ box.

Hearts eased their numerous concerns with a 2-1 win over Inverness at Tynecastle.

Hearts’ off-field problems are well-documented, with owner Vladimir Romanov voicing his desire to sell the club, £35million of debt and players going unpaid for a second successive month.

Rudi Skacel netted in the opening minute of the second half, but the lead did not last long as Ross Tokely equalised with a 58th-minute header.

However, Hearts responded and Eggert Jonsson netted a 75th-minute header to end a four-match winless run dating back to October 15.

Josh Magennis struck late to rescue an equaliser for Aberdeen in a dramatic 3-3 draw at Dunfermline.

Magennis, who had endured a miserable afternoon until that point, scored with two minutes left as the Dons showed great character to wipe out the Pars’ two goal lead.

Andrew Considine opened the scoring in first-half injury time but the hosts responded after the break with strikes from Andy Barrowman, David Graham and Liam Buchanan.

Alex Keddie gave Aberdeen hope with his own goal before Magennis made amends for missing a series of earlier chances.