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Season review: Scotland

Published: Tuesday 2 June 2009, 15.57CET
Rangers FC ended rivals Celtic FC's hold on the Scottish Premier League title with their first championship in four years, following up their last-day triumph by completing the double with a cup final defeat of Falkirk FC.
by Alex O'Henley
from Glasgow
Season review: Scotland
Scottish champions Rangers ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 2 June 2009, 15.57CET

Season review: Scotland

Rangers FC ended rivals Celtic FC's hold on the Scottish Premier League title with their first championship in four years, following up their last-day triumph by completing the double with a cup final defeat of Falkirk FC.

Rangers FC ended rivals Celtic FC's recent monopoly of the Scottish Premier League title with their first championship in four years. The race went down to the final day of the campaign with Rangers finishing four points clear of their Old Firm rivals following a convincing 3-0 win at Dundee United FC. The Ibrox club then made it a season to remember securing the double on Saturday with a 1-0 Scottish Cup final win against Falkirk FC. The relegation dogfight was also decided on the final round of fixtures with Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC returning to the first division after five terms in the top flight.

Champions: Rangers FC
Walter Smith's side twice trailed Celtic by seven points but buoyed by the goals of Kris Boyd, Rangers exacted revenge for last season's final day disappointment by beating Dundee United at Tannadice while their Glasgow rivals could only manage a goalless draw against Heart of Midlothian FC. Smith, whose side were champions for a world-record 52nd time, also had to make do without captain Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Allan McGregor towards the end of the season after the pair were suspended by the club following a breach of discipline while on international duty.

Cup final: Rangers FC 1-0 Falkirk FC
Rangers successfully defended the trophy seeing off the threat of John Hughes's Falkirk side who were hoping to win the cup for the first time since 1957. Nacho Novo was the hero for Rangers scoring with a spectacular effort with his first touch 28 seconds after coming on, completing his club's 18th double, a tally only topped by Northern Ireland's Linfield FC.

European places
Rangers FC – UEFA Champions League group stage
Celtic FC – UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round
Heart of Midlothian FC – UEFA Europa League, play-off round
Aberdeen FC – UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round
Falkirk FC – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round
Motherwell FC – UEFA Europa League (Fair Play winner), first qualifying round

Player of the year: Scott Brown (Celtic FC)
The Scotland international fought off competition from team-mate Gary Caldwell and Rangers pair Pedro Mendes and Steve Davis to land the coveted Scottish Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year Award. The 23-year-old was recognised for a series of dynamic displays in his second season at Celtic following his move from Hibernian FC.

One to watch: James McCarthy (Hamilton Academical FC)
The 18-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder took the league by storm in his first season and has been linked with a summer move to Celtic FC, though a host of English clubs are also monitoring his progress.

Top scorer: Kris Boyd, Rangers FC (27)

Surprise package: Hamilton Academical FC
Billy Reid's side of untried youngsters and wily veterans were favourites to make a quick return to the first division but the Lanarkshire outfit confounded the critics by finishing a respectable ninth, five points ahead of relegated Caley Thistle.

Number: 3
Within hours of the final round of fixtures, three managers had announced they were leaving their posts with Jimmy Calderwood, Gordon Strachan and Mixu Paatelainen all relinquishing the hot-seats at Aberdeen, Celtic and Hibernian.

Quote
"The last time I took over, Rangers were reasonably set so it has probably been more gratifying this time to lift the team from where they were to where we are now."
Rangers FC manager Walter Smith.

Last updated: 03/06/09 9.24CET

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