Football/Soccer

PICTURE GALLERY: Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers: rest and reinforcements and we will be ready to resume league title battle

Scottish Premiership: Rangers 1 Celtic 0
at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow on Saturday December 29 2018. Rangers' boss Steven Gerrard lifts goalscorer Ryan Jack in celebration at the final whistle.
All pictures by Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.
 

Boss Brendan Rodgers spoke of recuperation and recruitment after Celtic's 1-0 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday.

The Hoops had not been beaten in 12 previous Old Firm games since the Northern Irishman took over at Parkhead in 2016 with 10 wins and two draws before the trip to Govan.

However, midfielder Ryan Jack's first-half strike gave Steven Gerrard's side a well-deserved win and took them level on points with the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders having played a game more as the top flight closes down for the winter break.

Rodgers will turn his attention to boosting his squad - a striker is a priority given that Odsonne Edouard is the only available centre forward - before the Hoops fly out to Dubai next week for warm weather training.

The former Liverpool boss told Celtic TV: "The players will have a number of days with their families.

"Next Saturday we will meet up again. We have a lot of work to do in terms of our game, we have some work to do in the transfer market, that we want to get players in.

"It is clear where we need it in terms of the squad then we will come back ready into the our next game and be ready to fight.

"2018 has been a really good year for us, it (defeat to Rangers) is always a sore one, it is the first time I have experienced it.

"But you have to be honest enough as well, whenever you lose. I felt it was the deserved result even though we had a couple of chances that maybe could have went in.

"But we will be ready when we get back and we are still top of the league with a game in hand."

Rodgers hailed the performance of Callum McGregor despite having to take him out of midfield and into left-back with Kieran Tierney only fit enough to start on the bench.

As much as anyone, McGregor tried to take an under-performing Celtic side forward in the second-half and had the ball in the net in only to be ruled offside.

Rodgers said: "He was our best player by a mile.

"He was very, very good. Wherever he plays he always brings that quality to the game.

"You seen that thrust in his game getting forward.

"He was outstanding for us but of course whenever you have to take him out the middle you can suffer a little bit."

 

Celtic’s Craig Gordon makes a save during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match against Rangers at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow on Saturday December 29 2018. All pictures by Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.

 

STEVEN GERRARD KEEPING CALM AFTER RANGERS END CELTIC'S OLD FIRM DOMINANCE

By Andy Newport

Steven Gerrard admitted Rangers cannot afford to stand still after their Old Firm success if they want to overtake Celtic in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

The Ibrox boss masterminded Gers' first league victory over their bitter foes for almost seven years as his fired-up side smothered the Hoops into submission.

Saturday's 1-0 triumph - sealed by Ryan Jack's first-half winner - moves the Light Blues level on 42 points with Brendan Rodgers' champions, who still have a game in hand.

Gerrard was appointed to bridge the huge gulf in glass that had opened up between Glasgow's big two since his former Liverpool manager took over across the city.

But the Rangers chief knows that while his men put on an "A plus" display, Celtic could not have played much worse.

That was the perfect storm for his side but Gerrard insists he will need January reinforcements if his side are to weather the challenges ahead.

"I think that at a club this size you can't stand still," said the Rangers boss, who will next week fly his side out to Tenerife for a winter break training camp.

"You need to keep striving to improve and grow in all areas of the pitch, myself included.

"We need to try and strengthen in certain areas so we won't stand still and milk this moment. We'll enjoy the win and then we'll have a rest and get back on the horse and get ready to go again. But we still have a lot of hard work to do.

"We're now off for five or six days to allow the players to recover.

"We've been non-stop since June 15 so the players need some family time. We worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so they deserve time to rest up. We'll then go abroad to the sun and push them again with a mini pre-season.

"We'll try and get bodies back available so I can pick the strongest side at the end of January."

Gers dominated Rodgers' men but Gerrard know a Parkhead side that has chalked up seven straight league titles will bounce back.

"Listen, Celtic are still the favourites," he said. "They're still the team to beat.

"I'm not going to sit here and brag because we've beat Celtic once. We have respect for the opposition and the other teams in the league.

"It's a very difficult league and Celtic are still the favourites. But what we have shown today is that when we find a level then we are more than a match for them."

Winger Ryan Kent returned from a two-month injury lay-off to tee up Jack's decisive strike and told RangersTV: "I'm over the moon. Since I did my first injury I've been grafting and I managed to get back in time for an unbelievable game.

"I was a little bit rusty but I was expecting that after almost two months out. I was delighted to get the assist for Jacko.

"I saw what it meant to the fans and everyone associated with Rangers Football Club. We can't get carried away with that though, to us it's just three points."

 

 

5 THINGS WE LEARNED AS RANGERS FINALLY BEAT CELTIC IN THE LEAGUE

Ryan Jack's first-half strike gave Rangers a 1-0 win over Old Firm rivals Celtic at Ibrox to go level on points with the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things we learned from the last fixture of the year for both clubs.

Title race is on

Rangers needed a title boost and they got it with a sterling performance against their bitter rivals. Defeat would have left the Light Blues trailing the Hoops by six points, with an inferior goal difference and having played a game more. However, the victory takes them level on points with the league leaders as Scottish football closes for the winter break. Both clubs will look to strengthen in the January window but Steven Gerrard's men appear set to challenge Celtic all the way this season.

Unlucky 13 for Brendan Rodgers

Celtic boss Rodgers went into the game unbeaten in 12 Old Firm fixtures since he took over at Parkhead in 2016, with 10 wins and two draws. His one previous fixture against his former Liverpool captain Gerrard earlier in the season ended in a 1-0 win, with Olivier Ntcham scoring for the Hoops. The Northern Irishman was looking to become the first Celtic manager since 1909 to register five successive wins at Ibrox. However, it was not to be. This time he had to suffer at the hands of by the Light Blues, who could have won by a bigger margin had it not been for Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

Rangers coped with absentees better

Neither side were at full strength. Gers were without Borna Barisic, Graham Dorrans, Jamie Murphy and Gareth McAuley. Rodgers was missing Leigh Griffiths and Tom Rogic, while Kieran Tierney was only fit enough to start on the bench following a hip injury. Rangers looked more up for the game and it was a strangely timid performance by the reigning champions.

Craig Gordon is still a Scotland threat to Allan McGregor

Scotland's top two goalkeepers were on show at Ibrox. The man in possession of the national team jersey, McGregor, had an unusually quiet afternoon apart from a good save to deny James Forrest in the first half. Gordon was by far the busier and a string of saves kept Celtic in the game right until the end. His performance will give encouragement to Scotland manager Alex McLeish as he prepares for the European Championship qualifiers next year.

Ticket traumas makes for unusual Old Firm atmosphere

In order to maximise season-ticket sales, Rangers cut Celtic's allocation to a mere 750, down from the traditional 7,500 tickets. Celtic reciprocated and there was a similar-sized Gers support at Parkhead for the match in September. Once again there was an unusual atmosphere at an Old Firm game. Amid deafening noise at Ibrox as the Gerrard's side swept forward time and again, the away support in the corner could hardly be heard.

 

 

 

MATCH STATS

Rangers (1) 1 Celtic (0) 0 

Rangers: McGregor,Tavernier,Goldson,Worrall,Halliday, Ross McCrorie,Candeias (Coulibaly 71),Arfield (Flanagan 90), 
Jack,Kent,Morelos. 

Subs Not Used: Wallace,Lafferty,Foderingham,Katic,Middleton. 

Booked: Halliday. 

Goals: Jack 31. 

Celtic: Gordon,Lustig (Ralston 46),Boyata,Benkovic (Ajer 45), McGregor,Brown,Ntcham,Forrest,Christie,Sinclair, 
Johnston (Edouard 60). 

Subs Not Used: Hayes,Morgan,Bain,Tierney. 

Booked: Lustig,Ajer,Brown. 

Att: 49,863 

Ref: John Beaton (Scotland). 

 

 

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers 

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