Impressive Rangers strike a blow in league title race
Joy: Gerrard (pic: SNS Group)
Celtic 1 Rangers 2
Rangers will head to their warm-weather winter training camp in Dubai having turned up the heat on leaders Celtic in the Premiership title race.
Goals from Ryan Kent and Nikola Katic saw Steven Gerrard’s side record their first win at the home of their arch rivals since 2010.
The victory, which brought Celtic’s 11-game winning run in the league to an abrupt end, was thoroughly deserved and moved 10-man Rangers to within two points of the summit with a game less played than Celtic.
Tempers flared in the closing seconds, with Alfredo Morelos sent off once again, this time receiving a second yellow card for simulation in the box. Rangers coach Michael Beale was also red carded in the aftermath, presumably for something he said.
As in the recent League Cup Final meeting between the pair, Rangers were by far the better side but on this occasion the visitors achieved the result their performance deserved.
“Hopefully a lot of people will take notice of that performance,” said Gerrard. “It’s a big win because this club hasn’t had much success here for a long time.
“We’ve come here and faced a really big challenge and a good team, and again we’ve dominated the majority of the game so the players deserve an awful lot of credit.”
As at Hampden there was drama from the penalty spot, this time Allan McGregor saving Ryan Christie’s first-half spot-kick.
Minutes later, the Light Blues were in front, Ryan Kent’s superb left-foot shot beating Fraser Forster at his near post.
Celtic levelled through a deflected Callum McGregor shot but found themselves behind again after the break after Katic rose to beat Ajer in the air to bullet a header home.
Celtic will also head to Dubai during the top-flight’s winter break but will be licking their wounds in the sun after an insipid display.
“We’ve been on a brilliant run, it’s come to an end, we just have to go again like we did the last time,” said Lennon, who is looking to strengthen his squad in January.
“There’s no panic here. We’ve been absolutely sensational basically since August. We’re at the same sort of juncture as this time last year. If we get the same response as we did last year we’ll be absolutely fine.”
There was the usual hype surrounding the match and while the result decides nothing in the title race, it will inject real belief into Rangers that this could be their year.
Reports from Colombia, meanwhile, claim that the Ibrox club have rejected an £11 million bid from an unnamed club in England’s Premier League for Morelos.
Elsewhere in the Premiership, struggling Hearts’ first point under new manager Daniel Stendel came courtesy of an improved display but failed to improve their position at the foot of the table. The Jambos drew 1-1 with Aberdeen after having Sean Clare sent off but are cut adrift at the bottom with Hamilton’s shock win at Motherwell leaving Hearts five points behind Accies.
Results: Celtic 1 Rangers 2, Hearts 1 Aberdeen 1, St Mirren 1 Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 1 Hamilton 2, Livingston 2 Hibs 0, St Johnstone 1 Ross County 1.