Who Will Win The Scottish Premiership Race For Europe?
Just two weeks now remain in the 2014/15 Scottish Premiership season and with the title and relegation spots seemingly wrapped up, the race for Europe is all the excitement we have left. But boy, is it interesting!
There are two Europa League qualifying round places for the teams which finish 2nd and 3rd in the table, as well as one place for the winners of the Scottish Cup. Aberdeen had already sealed the runners-up spot and their Europa League spot and Inverness wrapped up 3rd place this weekend with a 1-0 win away at Dundee, their man of the moment Edward Ofere scoring yet again to book Inverness’s first ever European qualification.
That should have meant the European hunt was over, but given that Inverness are in the Scottish Cup final – and are favourites with the bookies to win it – that last Europa League spot would be added onto the league table should Inverness defeat Falkirk in the final.
This is where it gets exciting as the two teams vying for that 4th place – Saint Johnstone and Dundee United - which could bring with it a European adventure met this weekend, starting the day level on 52 points. It was a very even match and Saint Johnstone missed a 45th minute penalty, which led many to think that United's John Rankin’s headed goal 20 minutes from time would settle the affair, but Murray Davidson had other ideas and a wonder volley ten minutes later levelled the match. 1-1 it would remain, keeping these two teams neck and neck in the race for that pot of European gold at the end of a rainbow which may or may not exist. United currently edge it by three goals on goal difference so there is plenty still to play for.
Given that Saint Johnstone still have the top two - Celtic and Aberdeen - to play, Dundee United should be considered favourites, but with in-form Inverness and a Dundee derby to come it is not impossible that both sides could lose their remaining two fixtures.
Perhaps the extent of the damage to their respective goal differences will be the determining factor as to who gets that European ticket. As well, of course, as whether or not Inverness seal cup glory.
Scottish Football Talking Points Of The Week:
· Saint Mirren’s inevitable relegation was finally confirmed. Motherwell’s Friday night victory over Kilmarnock secured the Paisley side’s fate, but determined to go out in style the Saints beat Ross County 2-1 in the Highlands on Saturday afternoon.
· That Motherwell win, coupled with the Ross County loss means that just three points now separate the pair with two matches remaining. County’s superior goal difference suggests that a win next weekend against Hamilton Accies will condemn Motherwell to the relegation play-off spot.
· Fighting to meet either Motherwell or Ross County in that play-off are Rangers, Queen of the South and Hibernian. Hibernian will meet the winner of Rangers and Queen of the South, the first leg of which was held on Saturday evening and won 2-1 by Rangers ahead of the return leg at Ibrox next Sunday.