Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers earned a rare point against Celtic as a pulsating Old Firm derby ended goalless at Parkhead on Saturday.
The hosts dominated the first half with Scott Sinclair and French striker Moussa Dembele coming closest for Celtic.
But it was Rangers who ran the show in the second half with Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos missing two gilt-edged opportunities for the visitors as they claimed only their second point against the champions since returning to the top flight in 2016.
The point, however, stretches Celtic’s lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to nine points ahead of Aberdeen’s match against Hearts and keeps them 11 clear of Rangers, who are still searching for their first Old Firm league win since 2012.
“It was probably a fair result in the end. I think we created chances in the first half but we didn’t take them,” said Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.
“In the second half Rangers had a couple of chances but I thought the game lacked quality.”
Rangers manager Graeme Murty — who was also in charge as caretaker when they took their last point off their bitter rivals — was delighted with the effort from his players.
“The guys are in the dressing room a bit frustrated as we created some good chances,” Murty said.
“But I’m really proud of the way the players approached the game and withstood a really harsh challenge.”
Following a frantic start, it was a mistake from Mikael Lustig that handed Rangers the first real chance.
The visitors high pressing game worked as the Swedish defender cheaply gave possession to Josh Windass who played in Morelos whose drilled shot from a tight angle was saved by Craig Gordon.
Spurred on by their vocal home support, Celtic began to impose themselves, but missed a catalogue of chances.
Dembele, subject of speculation linking him with a move to Premier League outfit Brighton, fluffed an early chance as he got on the end of Dedryck Boyata’s headed knock-down but weakly sent his effort straight into the hands of Wes Foderingham.
James Forrest was then inches away with a low angled strike from Kieran Tierney’s cut-back.
— Smothered on the line —
Celtic smelled blood and almost had the opener in the 16th minute.
A goal-bound Dembele header was scrambled away by Foderingham straight to Sinclair, who’s initial effort was blocked by James Tavernier before his follow-up was smothered on the line by the ‘keeper.
With the game heading to the break Celtic blew the best chance of the half.
Forrest drove down the right and cut the ball back to the unmarked Sinclair, but with the goal at his mercy he scuffed his shot wide.
It was Rangers who re-emerged more fired up and only a superb save from Gordon stopped Tavernier’s acrobatic effort from Daniel Candeias’ cross sneaking in.
Celtic looked rattled as Rangers continued to push forward with Windass — subject of a rejected a bid from English Championship side Preston North End on Friday — inches away from connecting with Candeias’ cross into the six-yard box.
Morelos should have delivered the opener in the 68th minute.
Tavernier bounded past a couple of challenges on the right before sending a low cross into the six-yard box that the Colombian stooped to head towards the bottom corner but Gordon stuck out a leg to divert the ball round the post.
The striker’s bad day in front of goal continued as Tavernier’s cross found him lurking unmarked a couple of yards out but he directed his header off target.
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