Tuesday 26 September 2017

Resolute Rangers dig in to ends Bhoys' hot winning streak

Celtic 1 Rangers 1

Rangers' Lee Hodson celebrates towards the crowd after a late Clint Hill equaliser at Celtic Park. Photo: REUTERS
Rangers' Lee Hodson celebrates towards the crowd after a late Clint Hill equaliser at Celtic Park. Photo: REUTERS

Roddy Forsyth

The tectonic plates did not shift, but for Rangers' beleaguered fans, the occasion of a score draw in the east end of Glasgow was an event to celebrate.

Away to the runaway league leaders, Rangers took to the field without a manager - Pedro Caixinha watched from the stands - with the pundits predicting a rout of embarrassing proportions.

Yet, supervised by Graeme Murty, who was responsible for the club's U-20 players until Mark Warburton departed last month, they averted the possibility of having to endure a whitewash by Celtic in derby meetings.

They also thwarted the Hoops' ambition of surpassing the record of 25 successive league victories established by Martin O'Neill in 2004.

The game looked to be heading toward its expected outcome following Stuart Armstrong's forceful low drive shortly before half-time, but Celtic were unable to exploit their advantage in customary fashion.

Their punishment came in the dying minutes, when Craig Gordon could only parry a shot from Emerson Hyndman into the path of veteran defender Clint Hill for an equaliser which induced raptures from the Rangers supporters.

Celtic and Rangers players shake hands before kick-off. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire
Celtic and Rangers players shake hands before kick-off. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire

Hill came close to annulling his contribution with a late challenge on Leigh Griffiths in the penalty box but referee Bobby Madden was unmoved.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers nevertheless drew positives although he admitted his disappointment at the outcome.

"It felt like a defeat a little bit, - especially conceding in the 87th minute," he said. "I felt we weren't as fluent as usual in the first-half, passing backwards and sideways instead of forwards.

"We had much better control in the second-half and we looked like we were going to go on and score more goals.

Celtic's Stuart Armstrong (right) and Rangers' Barrie McKay battle for the ball. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Celtic's Stuart Armstrong (right) and Rangers' Barrie McKay battle for the ball. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

"It was disappointing we conceded a goal but we didn't get a clear penalty at the other end."

Celtic, who were well below par and would have been flattered by a win, were stymied by Murty's bold tactics and team selection.

The stand-in boss demanded a pressing game which, after a scrappy and hyperactive start, established Rangers as the dominant force.

The caveat was an absence of menace until midway through the half, when Kenny Miller's deft flick put Martyn Waghorn clear behind the Celtic defence, but he couldn't beat the advancing Gordon.

Celtic went ahead 10 minutes before the interval when Armstrong snapped on to a cutback from James Forrest to rifle a forceful low drive past Wes Foderingham.

A strike from Celtic's Stuart Armstrong flies past Rangers' Wesley Foderingham. Photo: REUTERS
A strike from Celtic's Stuart Armstrong flies past Rangers' Wesley Foderingham. Photo: REUTERS

Such developments, delivered at such opportune times, are usually sufficient to break opponents' ambitions and morale, but Celtic were unable to exploit their advantage in customary fashion.

Their punishment came in the dying minutes. Gordon could only parry a shot from Emerson Hyndman into the path of veteran defender Hill, who gleefully smashed the ball into the net.(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Stuart Armstrong celebrates after giving Celtic the lead. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Stuart Armstrong celebrates after giving Celtic the lead. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Telegraph.co.uk

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