5 things we learned from the opening weekend of cinch Premiership season

Celtic and Rangers both kicked off their campaigns with victories.

By Press Association Published: 31 July 2022 - 8.07pm

Celtic and Rangers both recorded wins as the cinch Premiership season began.

Hearts, Hibernian and Motherwell also gained three points from their opening fixtures.

Here the PA news agency looks at five things we learned from the opening weekend of the season.

Jota’s quality strike shows why Celtic signed him

Celtic were quick out of the blocks in their title defence when Stephen Welsh headed a third-minute opener against Aberdeen but the points were only really safe when Jota produced a moment of magic. The Portuguese winger, whose loan move from Benfica last season was made permanent in the summer for a reported fee of £6.5million, weaved his way across the park in 75th minute and then thundered in a strike from 20 yards to seal the points.

James Tavernier shows his importance again

The Rangers skipper scored 18 goals last season and the full-back was off the mark again at Livingston after the visitors fell behind to an early goal from Joel Nouble. It was a struggle for Rangers until substitute Scott Arfield levelled with a glancing header in the 73rd minute then just two minutes later Tavernier curled in a free-kick to take the points back to Ibrox.

The buzz remains at Kilmarnock

The Ayrshire side clinched a swift return to the Premiership with a dramatic late win over Arbroath at a packed Rugby Park and the supporters were out in numbers again to herald the return of top-flight football. A crowd of 8,014 saw Killie raise the Championship flag before Ash Taylor sent the majority home happy with a stoppage-time equaliser against Dundee United.

Steven Hammell wants Motherwell to “express themselves”

Motherwell’s academy director Hammell had less than 48 hours to prepare for the trip to Paisley following the departure of manager Graham Alexander and there were limitations on how much he could change given a lack of game time for fringe players. But the caretaker manager made his mark with his plan to give the players an “element of freedom to express themselves” and by handing 18-year-old Kian Speirs a late debut in a 1-0 win over St Mirren.

St Johnstone are still feeling hard done to=

Callum Davidson talked several times last season about how decisions were regularly going against his team and there was no let-up on the opening day of the new term. Hibernian boss Lee Johnson admitted his side were fortunate when Saints midfielder Murray Davidson was sent off and the Saints manager felt visiting left-back Marijan Cabraja committed an identical foul and only received a yellow card. The Perth side’s grievances were compounded by a last-gasp winner for Hibs.

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