SPL - Rangers win Old Firm opener

Sun, 24 Oct 14:36:00 2010

Two goals from Kenny Miller helped Rangers to a second-half fightback as they won the first Old Firm derby of the season 3-1 at Celtic.

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Gary Hooper put Celtic ahead on the stroke of half-time but Rangers responded in typical fashion as a Glenn Loovens own-goal and Miller’s double helped Walter Smith’s side maintain their 100 per cent league record this season and their fourth SPL comeback win on the trot.

There was the inevitable Glasgow derby controversy though as referee Willie Collum was conned into awarding a penalty when substitute Kirk Broadfoot dived into Daniel Majstorovic, with Miller converting to make it 3-1 with 24 minutes remaining.

The match was played at breakneck pace throughout as Collum - in the spotlight on his Old Firm debut - did well to keep a handle on it until his misjudgement for Rangers’ third.

Collum had to show a card in the first minute as Celtic’s Anthony Stokes launched a nasty tackle into the ankle of Sasa Papac.

In truth it could have been red, as could have the yellow shown to Rangers midfielder Lee McCulloch for a two-footed tackle on Emilio Izaguirre.

With players surrounding the referee over every minor foul, and the home fans howling every possible Celtic decision, it appeared Collum was the only calm head on the pitch, with the exception of David Weir and Madjid Bougherra, who made come vital interceptions.

Otherwise, and despite the attacking intent of both sides, chances were rare.

McCulloch’s foul came seconds after team-mate Steven Whittaker hit the post following a poor defensive header from Majstorovic, the first and last real opportunity before Celtic took the lead in first-half injury time.

Celtic had won four corners in a row before Ki Sung-yueng finally got it right, his flat, vicious delivery skimming off the head of Whittaker and landing to Hooper, who took a touch off his chest before lashing it in at the far post.

Rangers had come from behind to win their last three SPL games and, early in the second half, they showed just why.

A wicked free-kick from Steven Davis two minutes in was almost un-defendable, Lafferty meeting the high, far-post delivery to send a low ball across that went in off hapless defender Loovens.

It was 2-1 eight minutes later as Naismith capitalised on a dreadful clearance from Fraser Forster. He slipped a superb first-time pass to Maurice Edu and the American flicked it wide to the unmarked Miller who made no mistake with a low driven finish.

Miller put the game beyond Celtic with a cracking penalty off the inside of the post but there was a heavy dose of controversy as Broadfoot hurled himself at the static leg of Majstorovic.

Collum, who only half-faced the action as he was on the turn following Broadfoot’s heavy touch, had otherwise been excellent but he bought the dive and pointed to the spot.

Miller made no mistake to claim his seventh goal in 11 Old Firm derbies.

Celtic responded well, with Ki forcing a smart save from Allan McGregor with a superb free-kick, but Rangers had shut up shop and for all of their possession the hosts mostly tested McGregor with meat-and-drink catches from high balls.

The Scotland keeper did have to be at his acrobatic best to tip over Joe Ledley’s rising drive but Rangers were never really in danger as they made it nine wins in nine this season, Celtic now three points behind the SPL leaders.

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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