Celtic must turn their attention to Europe after a convincing 3-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over Kilmarnock.
Goals from Aiden McGeady, Georgios Samaras and Niall McGinn secured three points on Saturday which have left Celtic three clear at the top thanks to the half-time abandonment of Rangers’ match at Dundee United yesterday.
But they will have little time to celebrate, with Hamburg next on the agenda in the Europa League on Thursday.
With just one point from three Group C games, McGinn admits victory is essential if they are to have realistic hopes of qualifying.
“It is a must-win game for us, but it will be hard,” said McGinn. “Hamburg are a good side, so it is going to be difficult. But we will go over there with confidence after the result and performance against Kilmarnock.
“We hope we can get the early goal, and then try to see the game out.”
With Rangers out of action, Hibernian have taken over in second place thanks to a 2-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday.
But they left it late, with Colin Nish getting the first after 88 minutes before Liam Miller wrapped it up.
Nish has spent much time on the bench of late, and feels he is ready for another run in the team after getting his game back together.
“I was going through a wee bit of a bad spell at the beginning of the season and have probably started enjoying it again since the manager took me out,” he said.
“But I’ve been struggling to get back in, with the team playing well. We’re just taking each week as it comes. We’re probably a work in progress for the manager. We’ll see where it takes us – it’s awful(ly) early in the season.”
Motherwell occupy fourth spot, after beating Hearts 1-0 with a young line-up in which the 25-year-old John Sutton was the oldest player.
Jim Gannon went with 18-year-olds Shaun Hutchinson and Steven Saunders in central defence – and the former made two brilliant challenges in the final 10 minutes as Hearts threatened a comeback.
“The game seemed to open up, and the boys were called on to make those last-ditch recovery tackles with impeccable timing,” said Gannon.
“They are great athletes, good footballers and excellent defenders. They are two of the elite players at the club, and I’ve every confidence in them. They were immense when they were called upon.”
Towards the other end of the table, St Johnstone gave further evidence of their ability to compete at this level with a 3-1 win over Falkirk.
Murray Davidson, who grabbed the third goal, was particularly happy with the win – because he believes it came despite the hosts not being at their best.
“It was massive to get a win, especially in front of our own fans,” he said. “Games like the Falkirk one will define our season. I thought Falkirk passed it really well in spells, so credit has to go to them for that.
“We didn’t play at our best. But we won the game, and that was massive.”
Falkirk’s failure to pick up a first league victory left assistant Alex Smith confessing there is a lot of hard work ahead for manager Eddie May and everyone else at the club.
He said: “Every single person involved in the club has to pull together, but mainly the players and the management.”