By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Kris Boyd's hat-trick tightened Rangers' grip on second with a 3-0 win over Aberdeen.
Kris Boyd's hat-trick tightened Rangers' grip on second spot, while Dundee United and Dunfermline Athletic both recorded impressive away wins.
Second met third at Ibrox and Scotland international Boyd proved the difference as Rangers beat Aberdeen 3-0 to establish a seven-point gap between the two clubs.
Boyd struck his first goal after just eight minutes when he headed home and he was on target again on 25 minutes.
Charlie Adam's cross took a heavy deflection and looped into the air for Boyd to guide home his shot.
And six minutes later, Boyd completed his treble with an emphatic finish after Barry Ferguson and Alan Hutton had combined.
Dundee United were even more convincing winners after a 4-0 thrashing of Hearts at Tynecastle - a game in which both sides had a man sent off.
Ibrahim Tall and David Robertson were dismissed on 33 minutes after an off-the-ball incident, although there was a sense of disbelief about the red cards.
The visitors took the lead six minutes into the second half when Steven Robb led a counter-attack before setting up Barry Robson to finish.
Robson slotted his second goal through the legs of Craig Gordon on 59 minutes before Noel Hunt, who had hit the post in the first period, scored from on 70 minutes.
The rout was completed on 78 minutes when Robson claimed his hat-trick after a run into the box and shot past Gordon.
Bottom club Dunfermline came from behind to post a 3-1 win at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who had gone in front on 23 minutes when Markus Paatelainen scored after a scramble in the box.
Stephen Glass' volley, from Jim O'Brien's cross, levelled things up on 48 minutes and Jim McIntyre had an easy task to put Dunfermline ahead just past the hour.
A penalty from Glass made it 3-1 on 79 minutes before the win was soured when Tam McManus was sent off in the last minute.