Hearts close on Aberdeen in third as Celtic hit back to deny St Mirren | Scottish Premiership

Lawrence Shankland scored a second-half winner as Hearts defeated Aberdeen 2-1 at Tynecastle to crank up the heat on their opponents in the battle for third place.

The Dons arrived at Tynecastle boasting a five-point lead over the Jambos and they looked on course to kill off their hosts’ hopes of catching them when Mattie Pollock headed the opening goal just after the half hour. But a stunning equaliser from Josh Ginnelly and Shankland’s 27th goal of the season turned the game in the Edinburgh side’s favour as they closed the gap to just two points with two matches remaining in the battle for automatic European group-stage qualification next term.

Captain Callum McGregor rescued Celtic with a late leveller as the Hoops twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with St Mirren in a pulsating Premiership encounter.

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Buddies manager Stephen Robinson had promised to have a go at the champions and striker Curtis Main gave the visitors a shock lead at Parkhead after four minutes. Kyogo Furuhashi levelled with a powerful drive in the 15th minute only for Main to restore the visitors’ lead five minutes from the interval.

Main should have added to his tally on three occasions after the break and the Buddies were made to pay when McGregor equalised with nine minutes remaining to avoid a second successive league defeat after losing 3-0 to Old Firm rivals Rangers last week.

St Johnstone secured their top-flight safety with a 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Saints captain Liam Gordon headed the visitors in front in the 11th minute and the hosts were reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half-time after David Watson was given his marching orders for a poorly timed challenge. Defeat for Killie leaves them a point above the relegation play-off spot and three points ahead of Dundee United at the foot of the table.

Ten-man Dundee United are on the brink of relegation as they remain two points off the play-off spot with two games left following a 2-1 defeat at Livingston.

While Ian Harkes’ volley cancelled out Bruce Anderson’s strike – following a terrible mix-up between Tangerines pair Mark Birighitti and Loick Ayina – Livingston secured all three points thanks to James Penrice’s excellent strike just before the hour mark. United’s misery was compounded three minutes into stoppage time when Behich was red-carded for apparent dissent.

Motherwell striker Kevin van Veen continued his incredible goalscoring streak but had to wait until the ninth minute of stoppage time to net a penalty winner which left Ross County in the danger zone.

Kevin van Veen scored for Motherwell against Ross County.
Kevin van Veen scored for Motherwell against Ross County. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

County had been set to move above Kilmarnock on goal difference until Van Veen hit his 27th goal of the season but they at least had the consolation of bottom club Dundee United and Killie both losing.

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