Rob Maclean: Killie, Hibs & Motherwell players standout in Premiership weekend

Ryan Porteous
Hibernian's teenage defender Ryan Porteous turned in an impressive appearance at Ibrox

BBC commentator Rob Maclean provides his take on the weekend's Scottish Premiership action.

Bordeaux's loss is Killie's gain

It's the big break that could see Kilmarnock cement their place in the top six of the Premiership and make them well worth a wee wager to go all the way in the Scottish Cup.

I'm talking about the collapse of a transfer bid from French club Bordeaux that would have ended Youssouf Mulumbu's short but sweet stint in Ayrshire.

The former Paris St-Germain, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City midfielder will now stay at Killie until the end of the season and will surely continue to have a massive influence at the club.

Mulumbu, 31, scored the goal on Saturday that inflicted on Celtic only their second domestic defeat since Brendan Rodgers became manager.

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Highlights: Kilmarnock 1-0 Celtic

But much more significant than that weekend winner was his overall performance against the Premiership leaders.

Mulumbu has power and presence on the pitch and the effect on the players around him is clear to see. Bringing him on board was a masterstroke by manager-of-the-moment Stevie Clarke and Killie's climb up the Scottish football rankings is set to continue.

Ciftci's chance to make up for lost time

Nadir Ciftci celebrates
Ciftci (left) broke his Motherwell duck on Saturday

It was like a flashback in time watching Nadir Ciftci rattle in Saturday's late Motherwell equaliser against Partick Thistle at Fir Park.

It reminded me of two sparkling seasons at Dundee United that won him a £1.5m move to Celtic.

But that was two-and-a-half years ago and Ciftci's now been loaned out for a fourth time.

His first goal for Motherwell showed what he's all about when he's on his game. The strength to hold off a defensive challenge, the skill to turn that into a scoring chance and he certainly knows how to finish.

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Highlights: Motherwell 1-1 Partick Thistle

Ciftci's only 25, but he needs to make up for lost time. If he does, he'll turn out to be a great signing for Motherwell.

Porteous potential encouraging for Hibs & Scotland

I liked the look of 18-year-old defender Ryan Porteous in Hibernian's 2-1 win at Ibrox on Saturday.

He made a couple of important blocks to stop goal-bound shots from Rangers pair Alfredo Morelos and Russell Martin. But, more importantly, the Scotland Under-19 international was comfortable and composed in a disciplined defensive performance by Neil Lennon's team.

I'm adding Porteous to my rapidly-growing list of promising Scottish central defenders - a problem position not so long ago - that started in last week's blog with Scott McKenna, Ross McCrorie, Liam Lindsay and Michael Devlin.

Thanks to your feedback, new Celtic signing Jack Hendry joins the group as well. And, in the category of more established players at the back, where I placed Christophe Berra, I'm happy to include Leeds United captain Liam Cooper.

That's much more encouraging than it was. All we need now is an SFA chief executive and a new Scotland manager.

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Highlights: Rangers 1-2 Hibernian

Saints in false position

It's strange to see where St Johnstone are in the league table, but I can't see them staying there.

The Perth team are currently only six points away from the automatic relegation place in the Premiership, but they do have two or three games in hand on most of the others around them.

And a couple of wins could see them back in the more familiar territory of the top six.

It's the four teams below Saints that seem sure to scrap it out to avoid the bottom two slots.

And there are now only five points between Dundee, Partick Thistle, Hamilton Accies and Ross County.

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