Rangers 1-0 Celtic: Old Firm victory pulls Steven Gerrard’s men NINETEEN points clear as 10-man Hoops fall to Callum McGregor own-goal
- Ibrox hosted the Old Firm derby on Saturday as Celtic visited rivals Rangers in an SPL top-two clash
- The first-half ended 0-0 in a cagey affair, as the Hoops looked to cut their massive gap to the leaders
- The visitors were reduced to 10-men when Nir Bitton pulled-down Rangers forward Alfredo Morelos
- Moments later Steven Gerrard’s side lead, with Callum McGregor conceding an own-goal from a corner
Rangers took another huge step towards their first league title in a decade after Steven Gerrard’s team claimed a precious 1-0 Ibrox win over 10-man Celtic.
A tale of two McGregors came together to extend the Light Blues’ lead at the top of the Premiership to 19 points – and place Neil Lennon’s future as Celtic boss in fresh doubt.
It might have been a different story had Gers keeper Allan McGregor not pulled off three world-class saves – including brilliant finger-tipping Leigh Griffiths’ strike onto the post.
Rangers built on their massive SPL lead on Saturday, moving 19 points clear with a 1-0 victory over Celtic on Saturday
Callum McGregor turned a second-half corner into his own net to hand Rangers the lead, before the leaders saw-out the game
Nir Bitton cost his team, felling Alfredo Morelos and receiving a red card, before the hosts went ahead moments later
But with Celtic unable to capitalise on a dominant first half, they left themselves vulnerable to a sucker punch and so it proved as Callum McGregor put the ball into his own net just seven minutes after Nir Bitton had been sent off.
Lennon’s team still have three games in hand and two Old Firm games in which to claw themselves back into the title race but it looks increasingly likely this will be Rangers’ year.
Old Firm specialist Ryan Kent was recalled by Gerrard despite his recent dip in form while Leon Balogun’s started ahead of Filip Helander at centre-back.
Lennon opted for Bitton ahead of Shane Duffy to replace the injured Christopher Jullien. Vasilis Barkas was back in goal as he looked to make amends for his part in Celtic’s defeat to Gers back in October.
Celtic’s tenth successive title is essentially dead and buried, with Neil Lennon frustrated by his team’s collapse this season
The first-half passed goalless in a tense Old Firm before Rangers took control after Bitton’s second-half sending-off
However, skipper Scott Brown was again left out as Ismaila Soro was trusted to start his first derby.
The Parkhead men fired the first warning shot inside three minutes when Callum McGregor strode past James Tavernier before sliding in Edouard.
However, Allan McGregor made the first of his vital interventions as he palmed away before Tavernier blocked the Hoops’ McGregor on the rebound.
There was a brief angry exchange between Lennon and the Rangers bench after Alfredo Morelos planted his studs onto Jeremie Frimpong’s foot.
But the Northern Irishman had every reason to be pleased with how things were going.
Celtic’s deficit would still be in double figures even if they were to win their three games in hand in the Scottish Premiership
Balogun looked nervy as he headed the ball straight to Turnbull. Griffiths was then teed up but McGregor again came to Rangers’ rescue.
Gers were expected to dominate their rivals’ narrow midfield down the flanks but instead Celtic’s full-backs were the more prominent as Tavernier and Borna Barisic found themselves pinned down by the hungry Hoops’ high press.
Rangers finally worked some territory on 20 minutes as Joe Aribo slung a low ball in for Morelos but Frimpong made an important block.
Leigh Griffiths then got away with a barge on Kemar Roofe in the box. Seconds later it was Gers breathing another sigh of relief as McGregor got his fingertips to the ball to brilliantly tip Griffiths strike’ against the post.
Rangers were increasingly forced to go long by the squeeze from Celtic, with Kristoffer Ajer mostly eating everything up. Even when Roofe did get across the big Norwegian to flick on just before half-time, Diego Laxalt matched Morelos for pace before putting in a vital challenge.
Bitton saw red in the 62nd minute as Morelos broke in behind the back-four, having very little choice but to foul the attacker
Ianis Hagi came on for Roofe at the break and looked lively, going close with a couple of chances in the second 45 minutes
Steven Gerrard has now won three Old Firm derbies in a row and are still unbeaten in the Scottish Premiership this season
Bitton flicked a David Turnbull corner wide with the last chance of the half as Rangers were relieved to get in at the break still on level terms.
Gerrard was forced into a change at the break as Roofe was replaced by Ianis Hagi and the Romanian soon flashed a shot across Barkas’ goal.
But Rangers got a massive helping hand on 63 minutes when Bitton got his marching orders after tugging back Morelos as the Colombian looked set to dart onto a Tavernier pass in behind.
Lennon took off Griffiths as he shored up his backline by introducing Duffy but Gers sensed blood.
Barisic’s shot was deflected wide and from Tavernier’s corner, Aribo cut across McGregor’s eyeline and the stand-in Hoops skipper could not react in time to stop the ball hitting his shoulder and flying past Barkas.
Celtic substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi pulled the trigger in search of an equaliser but his strike ended on top of Allan McGregor’s net.
Duffy went in the book for cynical lunge on Hagi, as did Morelos and Callum McGregor during the following melee.
The final whistle brought a firework display from jubilant Gers fans outside the ground – and an angry snarl from Lennon as he came head to head with Gers coach Tom Culshaw before being dragged down the tunnel.
That wraps up our coverage of today’s coverage of the Old Firm. A big win for Rangers courtesy of that Callum McGregor own goal. Thanks for joining us!
The first time Rangers have gone unbeaten in their opening top flight games since 1967. Steven Gerrard becomes the first manger since Walter Smith to win three in a row against Celtic.
It’s all over! Rangers go 19 points clear with a 1-0 victory.
Celtic will rue those missed chances in the first half but Allan McGregor was in inspired form for the hosts. The game turned when Nir Bitton was sent off for pulling down Alfredo Morelos. Rangers took the lead in the 70th minute with Joe Aribo heading the ball on to Callum McGregor’s shoulder with Barkas having no chance to keep it out.
Into the final minute now as Celtic send it forward
Joe Aribo is off, Brandon Barker is on for the final few minutes
Celtic have four extra minutes to find an equaliser. As it stands, Rangers are going 19 points clear at the top…
Celtic are throwing everyone forward now in search of an equaliser. Rangers look happy to sit back and try to catch them on the break.
Ryan Kent’s race is run, Bongani Zungu is on for the final five minutes.
A final change for Celtic. Tom Rogic is on for Callum McGregor.
McGregor gives the ball away on the edge of the Celtic box and Itten has a shot at goal, just over the bar.
Into the final ten minutes now. Celtic are still in it but Rangers are looking to kill the game off with a second goal.
Morelos won’t be breaking his Celtic duck today, Steven Gerrard decides to take the striker off after that yellow card. Cedri Itten is on
Tempers flaring after a foul from Shane Duffy on Ryan Kent. It’s late and Morelos is involved with Scott Brown. The Rangers striker picks up a yellow card, as does Callum McGregor.
A great effort from Elyounoussi flies just over the bar
Neil Lennon reacts by bringing on captain Scott Brown for Ismaila Soro
Rangers have the lead from the resulting corner. Aribo heads the ball on to Callum McGregor’s shoulder, leaving Barkas no chance
Dangerous free-kick for Rangers just outside the box. Barsic’s effort takes a deflection and goes out for a corner.
Griffiths off for Shane Duffy and Elyounoussi comes on for Turnbull. Celtic having to sacrifice more attacking players after the red card for Bitton.
Rangers almost make Celtic pay from the resulting free-kick, Hagi goes up for the header but can’t make any contact. Rangers have their tails up now
Nir Bitton is sent off for pulling down Morelos. The striker gets away from him down the right wing and Bitton wrestles him to the ground. A poor challenge from the defender.
A sustained bit of pressure from Rangers which concludes with Ajer blocking Morelos’ shot. The resulting corner goes straight to Barkas.
Hagi straight into the action for Rangers with a curling shot that goes just wide
The second half kicks-off, Rangers will be hoping for a much better 45 minutes after Celtic dominated before the break
Ianis Hagi is set to come on for Kemar Roofe at HT.
Rangers 0-0 Celtic. Neil Lennon will be the happier of the two managers but he’ll be frustrated his side haven’t been able to take their chances. Allan McGregor has made some fantastic saves to keeps the hosts in the game.
Another chance goes begging for Celtic! A corner comes in from Turnbull, it’s met by Bitten but he can only nod his header wide.
Big tackle from Laxalt on Morelos. The defender had to time that right or the striker would have been through on goal
Steven Davis trips Kristoffer Ajer and picks up the first yellow card of the game
Free-kick in a dangerous position for Celtic but Griffiths’ effort goes straight into the wall
Celtic have had seven shots with three on target and have forced Allan McGregor into a few fantastic saves. Rangers with three shots but they’re yet to test Vasilios Barkas
Another save from McGregor! Griffiths curly a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and the Rangers goalkeeper does fantastic to tip it on to the post and away for a corner which comes to nothing. McGregor is keeping Rangers in it.
Chance for Morelos as Aribo plays a cross into the box, the striker’s first-time shot is blocked and Celtic get it away, better from the hosts.
McGregor takes a shot from the edge of the area which flashes just wide.
Another big save from McGregor! This time it’s Griffiths trying his luck, firing a shot down the goalkeeper’s throat. Turnbull is flagged offside from the rebound. Celtic have started strongly here!
Huge save from Allan McGregor! Callum McGregor plays in Odsonne Edouard down the right, he gets a shot off at the near post but the Rangers goalkeeper is equal to it. He makes another fantastic save from the follow-up which is later flagged offside.
After a minute’s silence to remember the Ibrox victims, we’re underway…
‘We’re in a different place than what we were two or three months ago.We know it’s a huge task with Rangers unbeaten this season. They’re a good side, we’re going to have to play strongly, be physical and be brave on the front foot.’
Alfredo Morelos is still yet to score against Celtic – will today be his day?
Rangers legend John Greig, who was a player during the Ibrox disaster, lays a wreath outside the ground with Celtic chairman Ian Bankier
‘We need to be the best version of ourselves. A lot of good teams have come to Ibrox of late and caused us problems, I’m sure that will happen today. But we’ve all performed well individually and collectively and normally when we do it’s enough to get the right results. I’ve got confidence and belief that the players are about to deliver.’
Celtic starting XI: Barkas; Bitton; Ajer; Frimpong; Laxalt; Soro; Turnbull; Christie; McGregor; Griffiths; Edouard
Subs: Elhamed; Ntcham; Elyounoussi; Ajeti; Taylor; Rogic; Hazard; Duffy; Brown
Rangers starting XI: McGregor; Tavernier; Barisic; Goldson; Balogun; Davis; Kamara; Aribo; Morelos; Roofe; Kent
Subs: Bassey; Defoe; Hagi; Zungu; Helander; Barker; McLaughlin; Patterson; Itten
Today’s Old Firm takes place on the 50th anniversary of the Ibrox disaster, where 66 people lost their lives. Fans have been paying their tributes to the victims outside the ground.
Good morning and welcome to our coverage of the Old Firm – Rangers vs Celtic at Ibrox. Steve Gerrard’s side are looking to extend their lead at the top of the SPL to 19 points. We’ll have all the match build-up, action and reaction right here.
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