Celtic could only draw 1-1 against Steve Paterson's Aberdeen FC and that, combined with Rangers' 3-1 home win over Dundee FC, gives the Ibrox team a comfortable cushion as Scottish football enters its three-week recess.
Henrik Larsson handed Celtic a 30th-minute lead at Pittodrie, only for Aberdeen - celebrating their centenary year - to hit back on 51 minutes through Russell Anderson. Rangers were therefore the happier of the two Glasgow sides after goals from Barry Ferguson, Ronald de Boer and debutant Steven Thompson saw off the challenge of a Dundee team who had equalised at Ibrox through Steve Lovell.
Elsewhere, third-placed Heart of Midlothian FC scored twice in the last minute of added time to earn a 4-4 draw with Hibernian FC in the Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle. Graeme Weir's double strike ensured parity after Hibs had themselves registered two late goals - on 89 and 90 minutes - through Craig James and Grant Brebner. Incredibly, Hearts had already come from two down to draw level, at 2-2, with a Mark de Vries effort on 62 minutes.
Stevie Crawford's two goals gave Dunfermline Athletic FC a 2-0 home success against Livingston FC which lifted them above Hibs and into fourth position. Meanwhile, Motherwell FC needed a 77th-minute David Partridge effort to take a point from the visit of Partick Thistle FC. The hosts were not helped by the sending-off of James McFadden. It also finished 2-2 at Dundee United FC who were rescued by Jim McIntyre's late leveller against Kilmarnock FC at Tannadice Park.
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