RANGERS more-than earned their draw at Parkhead this afternoon with a superb performance – but it’s a game they may look back on wondering “what if” after missing a number of great chances to take the three points back to Ibrox.
For spells of the game, particularly in the second half, the Light Blues were on-top, dominating the contest, and some better finishing would have seen them record a famous victory at the home of their rivals.
It’s always an intimidating noise which greets the players in Glasgow’s East End, but Rangers certainly didn’t look overawed in the early stages, and they really should have taken the lead with just five minutes on the clock.
Pressing Celtic high, up the park, Josh Windass intercepted a loose touch from Mikael Lustig, and after driving forwards, slipped in Alfredo Morelos on to his right and, albeit from an angle, the Colombia found only the arms of Craig Gordon.
Three minutes later, Gers had another opportunity when some good combination play down the right ended with Jason Holt smuggling a ball to Ross McCrorie on the edge of the area, but his shot took a deflection and the home side managed to clear.
It was all Rangers in the first 10 minutes, and a quick counter attack led by Daniel Candieas ended with the Portuguese playing the ball into the area, with Windass close to getting on the end of it.
Celtic looked rattled, but they came close to taking the lead against the run of play. Gers were left thin at the back after trying to break out, and a James Forrest shot took the slightest nick off Danny Wilson to go behind for a corner.
Then, from a Scott Brown free-kick, Dedryck Boyata nodded down to the back-post for Scott Sinclair, and after a bit of a scramble inside the area, Wes Foderingham managed to get his gloves to the ball and hold it.
That move brought an end to Bruno Alves’ game as he pulled up off the ball and had to be replaced by David Bates.
Rangers were doing really well in the game without creating much, but in injury time at the end of the first half, they were fortunate to survive as a Stuart Armstrong ball across the face of goal was poked wide at the back post by Sinclair.
The second half began the same as the first, with Rangers on the front-foot, and this time, James Tavernier forced Craig Gordon into a terrific save.
Gers worked the ball down the right with some neat interchanges between Candeias and Morelos, before Candieas crossed into the area. Meeting it acrobatically on the penalty spot was James Tavernier, and his effort looked goal-bound until Gordon stuck a hand up to deflect the ball over the top.
Then, Windass again was just inches away from connecting with a Candeias cross, which Gordon did well to smuggle away. It was all Rangers, and their latest effort on goal came from a back-post Danny Wilson header from a Niko Kranjcar corner, although Gordon made easy work of it.
The chances were now really starting to build up for the visitors, and following a wonderful, driving run from Tavernier, evading a number of Celtic tackles, he cut the ball into the middle for Morelos, and somehow, Gordon got a leg to the ball to send it behind for a corner.
With 11 minutes to go, Morelos again had the chance to put Gers in front as Tavernier dug out the most superb ball onto the striker’s head, but under little pressure, he put the ball wide.
Celtic huffed and puffed, but anything they could throw at Gers was rebuffed by the excellent Danny Wilson and partner David Bates. In terms of performance, few could have asked for much more from Graeme Murty’s side, but in the days to come, maybe some will look back and think this is a game Gers certainly could have won.
CELTIC: Gordon, Brown, Dembele (Griffiths, 61), Sinclair (Ntcham, 72), Armstrong, Boyata, Lustig, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest, Tierney.
SUBS NOT USED: de Vries, Simunovic, Bitton, Edouard, Johnston.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Alves (Bates, 18), Wilson, John, McCrorie, Holt, Windass, Candeias, Kranjcar (Pena, 80), Morelos (Herrera, 88)
SUBS NOT USED: Alnwick, Hodson, Hardie, Barjonas.
REFEREE: Bobby Madden