The Scottish game from the Borders to the Highlands & Islands and beyond
FFT.com's Scotland correspondent on an action-packed weekend involving limping horses and dancing twins...
RESULTS: Sat Feb 13 Aberdeen 4-4 Celtic, Hamilton Academicals 0-0 Motherwell, Heart of Midlothian 3-2 Falkirk, Kilmarnock 3-2 St. Johnstone, St Mirren 1-2 Dundee United Sun Feb 14 Rangers 3-0 Hibernian
The SPL is supposed to be a two-horse race but it appears that one of the horses only has three legs and is limping the wrong way.
In an action-packed weekend north of the border with a healthy average of four goals per game in the top flight, Celtic dropped two vital points in the championship race to fall 10 behind runaway leaders Rangers.
The Celts came undone in a somewhat freakish game on Saturday at Pittodrie, where they shared the spoils with Aberdeen in an eight-goal thriller thanks to the type of defending that would have had Alan Hansen furiously tugging at his side parting.
Fortunately for the former Liverpool defender he has chosen to ply his punditry trade down south rather than witness the generous defending on offer in the Granite City.
The game could have finished 8-8 but for a few inspired stops from both keepers and some wasteful finishing in the final third.
But with Rangers defeating Hibernian 3-0 at Ibrox the following day, this proved to be two massive dropped points for Tony Mowbray's side who only have 13 games remaining to claw back Rangers' double-digit lead.
Celtic, bolstered by the presence of the lively Robbie Keane, look capable of scoring at any given moment but their zeal in attack is completely undermined by their defensive frailties.
If Mowbray's side are to mount a serious title challenge and prevent Rangers waltzing over the finishing line they will need to shore up their defence quickly.
Yellow! Shirtless Steven MacLean celebrates the Dons' fourth
If the match at Pittodrie had been explosive, the post-match press conference was equally fiery with Dons boss Mark McGhee hitting back at suggestions made earlier in the week that he would field a weakened side against the Hoops.
Tabloid newspapers reported that McGhee had said he would rest key players for the visit of Celtic ahead of his side's Scottish Cup replay with Raith Rovers on Tuesday.
In the end, the former Motherwell boss, named his strongest XI to take on the Hoops.
The Aberdeen manager, who has never hidden the fact he grew up as a Celtic supporter, said: “I feel I was betrayed. I have tried very hard to cultivate relationships with the press and I try to accommodate them as much as I can.
“I don't care, I still say it, I was brought up a Celtic supporter, that doesn't change, but at Motherwell I said I wanted to be able to walk down Byres Road [in Glasgow], look Rangers fans in the eye and they would know I was doing my job and trying to take points off Celtic as well as Rangers.”
A vindicated McGhee will now be praying his players have left enough in the tank for Tuesday's visit of Raith.
Elsewhere, Dundee United kept up the pressure on third-placed Hibernian by coming from behind to beat St Mirren thanks to two goals in the final seven minutes.
New Hearts manager Jim Jefferies made a winning return to Tynecastle with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Falkirk in Steven Pressley's first game in charge of the Bairns following Eddie May's midweek exit.
Hamilton and Motherwell shared the spoils in a largely forgettable goalless draw, while Jimmy Calderwood's honeymoon period at Kilmarnock continued as they twice came from behind to beat St Johnstone 3-2.
But it will be Rangers who will be happiest with how results went.
After their midweek stutter in drawing at Motherwell, Walter Smith's side came through a testing visit of Hibernian unscathed.
John Hughes' men must be applauded for the way they took the game to the Ibrox side in the first half but second-half goals from Steven Whittaker, Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller ensured all three points for the hosts.
With Rangers facing St Johnstone in next Saturday's lunchtime kick-off the gap at the top could be 13 points before Celtic take on Dundee United later in the day.
Tony Mowbray will know his side cannot afford to concede any more ground to their rivals.
But with time quickly running out to close the gap at the top, only the bravest of punters will be backing Celtic to pip their city rivals and pull off an unlikely title win.
One other thing caught the eye last week.
I haven't reported on a World Cup final, a Milan derby or a Ryder Cup. Hopefully such wonderful assignments await one day.
However I was at Tannadice on Wednesday to witness the Paixao siblings becoming the first twins to score in the same SPL game.
Before the match I'd heard somebody speaking about the Portuguese twins. “They're like Jedward – one's no bad, the other's pish,” he evaluated.
When I received my teamsheet for the Dundee United-Hamilton match I was silently praying Marco and Flavio were on the bench.
But, after alerting myself to the possible dangers of accidentally omitting a letter from United keeper Dusan Pernis's surname, my heart sank when I noticed that Marco and Flavio were both starting for the Accies.
Thankfully for the reporters present Marco had opted for blue boots while Flavio was sporting a flashy yellow pair.
When Flavio – or “yellow boots” as one of my colleagues called him – opened the scoring the twins celebrated with a well-rehearsed dance routine – perhaps in tribute to their fellow duplicate double act Jedward.
The shapes they were throwing weren't particularly to my taste but the Portuguese pair are proving to be a handful for defences to deal with.
They were certainly a constant nuisance to Dundee United's rearguard as the Accies picked up their first victory at Tannadice for over 20 years.
The boots and celebrations may be naff but these Paixao twins could score the goals that keep Hamilton in Scotland's top flight.
More from Fitba' Focus
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