Celtic FC have retained the Scottish Premier League title with four games to spare following a convincing 4-1 victory against Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC.
Even at kick-off, Celtic knew that second-placed Motherwell FC could only overturn what then stood at a 12-point deficit with an improbable swing in goal difference, but this home win removed all mathematical doubt. It represents the Hoops' 44th league crown, leaving them ten behind rivals Rangers FC, who were absent from the top flight for the first time this season.
Inverness kept out Celtic in the first half but in the 61st minute Gary Hooper struck after taking receipt of Kris Commons's pass. Five minutes later, Joe Ledley turned in a Mikael Lustig cross and Hooper soon had another after being set up by Commons. Giorgos Samaras completed the victory with a neat finish from a tight angle two minutes from time before the visitors pulled one back through Aaron Doran.
"We have a fantastic, talented young team who have brought great memories to the club this year," manager Neil Lennon said: "It is a privilege to manage this club and to win the championship again, I'm so proud for the players and fans, they are the ones that make the club what it is."
Lennon's side begin the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League in the second qualifying round, hoping to make the group stage for a second consecutive season. Celtic's title success means the team they face in the Scottish Cup final on 26 May at Hampden Park, Hibernian FC, are assured a UEFA Europa League berth, while Motherwell look almost certain to take one of Scotland's other two slots. Despite today's loss, Inverness remain in third.
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|Last updated: 21/04/2013 19:52 CET|
|St Johnstone||2-2||Ross County|
Brittain 15 (P), 76 (P)
|Venue: St Johnstone|
|Venue: St Mirren|
|3||Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC||34||51|
|4||Saint Johnstone FC||34||47|
|5||Ross County FC||34||46|
|6||Dundee United FC||34||44|
|10||Heart of Midlothian FC||34||40|
|11||Saint Mirren FC||34||36|