By Alex O'Henley
Scottish Premier League champions Rangers FC eased themselves into the new season with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Livingston FC at Ibrox on Sunday.
After finishing last season with 18 goals to his name, Dado Pršo picked up where he left off, converting a rebound on 22 minutes after goalkeeper Roddy MacKenzie could only parry Alex Rae's shot. José Pierre-Fanfan, making his debut after his summer move from Paris Saint-Germain FC, then doubled the lead from close range seven minutes after the interval.
The afternoon was to get worse for Livingston, as they were reduced to ten men when Richard Brittain was dismissed on 74 minutes, before Peter Lovenkrands sealed an easy win with a third goal in added time. Victory means Rangers already have a two-point advantage over perennial title rivals Celtic FC after Gordon Strachan's side relinquished a 3-1 lead at Motherwell FC.
After being humbled 5-0 by FC Artmedia Bratislava in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, Celtic looked on course for a welcome win when a hat-trick from John Hartson helped them open a 3-1 half-time lead. Brian Kerr's goal had given the home side some hope though and by 84 minutes, they looked set for an unlikely victory after headers from Jim Hamilton, Scott McDonald and William Kinniburgh.
But Celtic salvaged a 4-4 draw through substitute Craig Beattie in added time, although Strachan is still awaiting his first win at the club. George Burley has enjoyed more immediate success at Heart of Midlothian FC, as he marked his return to Scottish football with an impressive 4-2 win at Kilmarnock FC.
Czech players Rudolph Skácel and Roman Bednar both scored debut goals to overturn Steven Naismith's 12-minute opener before Lithuanian winger Saulius Mikoliunas volleyed a third just after the hour. Gordon Greer gave Kilmarnock brief hope but Paul Hartley converted a penalty a minute from time to restore Hearts' two-goal cushion.
There were more debut goals at Tannadice where Dundee United FC and Aberdeen FC drew 1-1 after the visitors' Barry Nicholson cancelled out Lee Miller's early opener. At Easter Road, meanwhile, ten-man Hibernian FC came from behind to seal a share of the spoils against Dunfermline Athletic FC. Garry O'Connor's late equaliser earned his side a point despite Scott Brown’s first-half dismissal.
Finally, Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC player-manager Craig Brewster led by example, scoring both goals as his side defeated newly-promoted Falkirk FC 2-0.
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