Top two Celtic and Rangers both won but Kilmarnock slipped up on a busy night of Scottish Premiership action.
Rangers held on to beat Aberdeen 4-2 in a feisty clash which saw Alfredo Morelos score twice before being sent off for the fourth time this season.
Morelos opened the scoring and restored Gers’ lead after Sam Cosgrove had hit back but in a topsy-turvy game, James Tavernier and Cosgrove made the scoreline 3-2 with just 47 minutes on the clock.
The game turned ugly shortly afterwards as Scott McKenna and Morelos were both given straight reds for their part in a clash on the edge of the Aberdeen penalty area, but Jermain Defoe had the last word as Steven Gerrard’s side moved five points clear of their third-placed opponents.
They remain six points behind leaders Celtic, though, after Brendan Rodgers’ side sealed a workmanlike 2-0 win over Hibernian at Parkhead.
Despite a string of injuries, the champions were too strong for the visitors and goals either side of the break from Ryan Christie (24) and Oliver Burke (64) secured the points.
Kilmarnock were unable to take full advantage of Aberdeen losing as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Dundee. Andrew Nelson netted for the hosts either side of Conor McAleny’s equaliser for Killie, who levelled things up again through Chris Burke’s 54th-minute effort.
Kenny Miller had the chance to win it for Dundee deep into stoppage time but he saw his penalty saved by Daniel Bachmann.
Hearts also missed the chance to further narrow the gap on Aberdeen as they drew 0-0 at home with Livingston, who claimed their first point of 2019.
St Mirren remain bottom of the table after losing 2-1 at home to Motherwell. Jake Hastie put the visitors ahead before Stephen McGinn equalised but Allan Campbell won it for Motherwell.
Hamilton boosted their survival hopes as they secured their first league victory since the beginning of December following a 2-1 win over St Johnstone.
New recruit George Oakley, a deadline day signing from Inverness, scored a second-half double either side of Liam Craig’s equaliser as Hamilton ended a 10-game winless run.
(c) Sky News 2019: Scottish Premiership: Celtic, Rangers win but Kilmarnock held