Numan’s blistering left foot strike from a tight angle in 58 minutes was something quite extraordinary and everything Rangers deserved. Indeed Rangers should have gone on to claim victory such was their purpose and desire but Celtic stood firm.

It was another gutsy display from the side, who struggled at times in the first half, and in Lorenzo Amoruso, Barry Ferguson and Bert Konterman they had three heroes.

Amoruso, invariably inspired by the Old Firm atmosphere, was simply magnificent at the back while Ferguson and Konterman played through the pain barrier, both taking injections to take part.

In the end a draw was all they got for their efforts but their ability to come back from a goal down must surely augur well for the future for Alex McLeish.

The manager was concerned that injuries would seriously hamper his selection and so it proved. He badly missed the influence of Ronald de Boer, who can be so important in the way he links the play from midfield to front.

Neil McCann was given the job, trying to work behind Tore Andre Flo and while he worked hard he did not get enough of the ball to make things happen in the first half although he was much more influential after the break.

All too often Konterman and Ferguson were swamped in the middle of the park and the other problem for Rangers was that they did not exploit their width enough.

They especially did not utilise the pace of Peter Lovenkrands on the left side enough, Only fleetingly did the young Dane get the supply he needed to hurt Celtic.

Rangers actually started the game reasonably well, enjoying a good amount of possession but, crucially, they did not manage to force Rab Douglas into a save.

The closest efforts were from long range and both from Dutchmen. Bert Konterman fired a right foot over the top after a couple of minutes while Arthur Numan did the same in 20 minutes, although there was more menace in his effort.

Numan fooled Didier Agathe by cutting inside and made a decent strike which worried Douglas a little but it was a foot too high.

Sadly for Numan it was attempted clearance which gave Celtic the opportunity to take the lead just two minutes. However, he was to more than make up for that later.

In trying to clear Mjallby’s long ball he only succeeded in slicing it into the path of Henrik Larsson who spotted Stilian Petrov’s darting run and laid the ball on a plate for the Bulgarian.

Stefan Klos tried to narrow the angle but Petrov slipped the ball underneath him and the Ibrox crowd could scarcely believe their eyes.

Celtic had had the ball in the net in 13 minutes when John Hartson stabbed the ball past Klos after Larsson had set him up but he was flagged for offside.

And having taken the lead, Celtic enjoyed their best spell of the match as Rangers tried to regain their composure.

Barry Ferguson collected the game’s first caution in 27 minutes when Hugh Dallas decided he was guilty of persistent fouling but that was the least of Rangers’ worries at this stage.

There was no threat up front and although the Ibrox men forced a couple of corners they never really looked like scoring and they went in one down at half-time.

McLeish recognised the deficiencies in an attacking sense and took off Caniggia, replacing him with Shota Arvealdze, who had not been fit enough to start the game.

The switch worked as Rangers looked much more threatening and it seemed that all was definitely not lost.

There was glimpse of a chance when Lovenkrands skipped inside in 47 minutes and tried his luck with a right foot shot from a tight angle but it flew wide.

There was more purpose about Rangers’ attacking play but they had still not had a shot on target. When it came in 58 minutes it was worth waiting for.

Arthur Numan took a pass from Peter Lovenkrands on the left corner of the box and Celtic did not feel there was any real danger. Wrong move.

Numan looked up and struck a quite stunning left foot shot which raged into the top right corner and set Ibrox alight.

It was a quite unbelievable goal – easily the best of his career – and it changed the course of the match as Rangers were injected with the belief they could go and win the game.

Douglas, who had no chance with Numan’s effort, made a finger-tip save from McCann’s low shot after Konterman had played in McCann in 61 minutes.

And the Celtic keeper made two terrific blocks to deny brave skipper Barry Ferguson, who took an injection before the game and needed more painkillers during the game to aid his aching ribs.

Ferguson is criticised for his lack of goals but his strike if 75 minutes was out of the top drawer and only the agility of Douglas denied him. Then in 85 minutes he nearly deceived the Celtic keeper with a cute left foot strike but Douglas threw himself across his goal to make the block.

The Ibrox fans willed their team on for the win they wanted but Celtic stood firm. Indeed, Agathe might have pinched a winner in 86 minutes when Stephen Crainey’s long free kick was only half-cleared into his path.

Fortunately for Rangers Klos made a brilliant block, pushing the ball over the bar. And so it finished honours even which, of course, suited Celtic a lot more than Rangers.


RANGERS: Klos; Ricksen, Amoruso, Vidmar, Numam; Konterman, Ferguson; McCann; Caniggia (Arveladze 45), Flo, Lovenkrands. Subs not used – McGregor, Kanchelskis, Wilson, Hughes.

Bookings: Ferguson (27)

CELTIC: Douglas; Balde, Mjallby, Crainey; Agathe, Petrov, Lambert, Lennon, Guppy (McNamara 75); Larsson, Hartson. Subs not used – Gould, Boyd, Moravcik, Smith.

Bookings: None

Ref: Hugh Dallas.

Att: 49,765.

Man of the match: Lorenzo Amoruso.

Moment of the match: No doubt about it – Numan’s stunning strike.


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