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Season review: Scotland

Published: Tuesday 24 May 2011, 12.44CET
Walter Smith left the Ibrox hot seat in style by guiding Rangers FC to their 54th league title while rivals Celtic FC found some consolation in another Scottish Cup final success.
by Alex O'Henley
from Glasgow
Season review: Scotland
Rangers celebrate their 54th Scottish championship ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 24 May 2011, 12.44CET

Season review: Scotland

Walter Smith left the Ibrox hot seat in style by guiding Rangers FC to their 54th league title while rivals Celtic FC found some consolation in another Scottish Cup final success.

For the fourth time in nine years the Premier League title went down to the last day of the season with Rangers FC claiming their 54th championship. Celtic FC were in pole position going into the final month of the campaign before a 3-2 defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC on 4 May put their rivals back in the driving seat. The Ibrox club duly capitalised, scoring 16 goals in their last four fixtures culminating with an emphatic 5-1 victory at Kilmarnock FC in Walter Smith's final game as they finished a point clear of Celtic.

Champions: Rangers FC
Against a continuing background of financial restrictions, Smith chiselled out arguably his most impressive title success in two spells at the club. Hopes of a third successive title looked slender when top scorer Kenny Miller was sold to Bursaspor in January, especially as €6m summer signing Nikica Jelavić was sidelined for three months with an ankle injury. However, the experience and mental strength of Smith's squad came to the fore in their 2-1 extra-time Scottish League Cup victory over Celtic on 20 March. Then, when the Hoops missed a chance to go two points clear at the top of the table with three rounds to go, the Light Blues seized the opportunity to give Smith the perfect send-off.

Cup final: Motherwell FC 0-3 Celtic FC
Neil Lennon earned his first managerial silverware as Celtic lifted the Scottish Cup for a record 35th time. A sumptuous 25-metre strike from Korea Republic midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng gave Celtic the lead on 32 minutes and though Gavin Gunning rattled the crossbar with a similar strike soon after, it was as close as Motherwell came to getting back on terms. Stephen Craigan put Mark Wilson's cross-cum-shot into his own net (75) and Charlie Mulgrew sealed the victory with a free-kick two minutes from time.

European places*
Rangers FC – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
Celtic FC – UEFA Europa League play-off round
Heart of Midlothian FC – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
Dundee United FC – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic FC)
One of a number of imaginative signings made by Lennon in his first full season in charge, the Honduran international lit up the Premier League with his dashing performances from left-back. A successful campaign culminated in the 24-year-old lifting Player of the Year awards from both his peers and the Scottish media.

One to watch: David Goodwillie (Dundee United FC)
Like Izaguirre, Goodwillie scooped all the Young Player of the Year awards after scoring 18 goals for the Tangerines. The 22-year-old struck in six consecutive league fixtures at one point, earning his first senior international cap in the 3-0 friendly victory over the Faroe Islands on 16 November 2010. Despite interest from both sides of the border, Goodwillie has extended his contract until 2013.

Surprise package: Kilmarnock FC
Tipped as relegation candidates at the start of the season, Killie defied the odds, earning plaudits as their free-flowing football earned a fifth-place finish. Manager Mixu Paatelainen brought in playmaker Alexei Eremenko and with Conor Sammon scoring for fun, Kilmarnock were the surprise package until the turn of the year. The Ayrshire club faltered towards the end of the campaign after Sammon's departure for Wigan Athletic FC and Paatelainen's appointment as Finland coach. They may struggle to replicate their lofty finish next season.

Leading scorer: Kenny Miller, Rangers FC (21)

Number: 23
Clean sheets kept by Celtic, breaking their own Premier League record of 22 set under Martin O'Neill in 2000/01.

Relegated: Hamilton Academical FC

Promoted: Dunfermline Athletic FC

Quote
"I will always have a regret. I had a regret when I was arguing with myself about whether to do it or not. But it's the right thing for myself and the right thing for Rangers. The lads that have been working with me – Alastair [McCoist], Kenny [McDowell] and Ian [Durrant] have been patiently waiting to take over. They're due the opportunity and that was part of the decision."
Outgoing Rangers manager Walter Smith on his decision to retire.

Last updated: 21/06/11 14.36CET

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