GOALS from Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair secured three SPFL Premiership points for Celtic on their first visit to Ibrox Stadium in almost five years.
Rangers took the lead in style through stand-in skipper Kenny Miller on 13 minutes, the striker finding the net after excellent build-up play involving Josh Windass and James Tavernier.
From there both sides created chances galore but it was Celtic who took two of theirs, with Dembele launching a volley past Wes Foderingham with 33 minutes played before Sinclair scored what proved to be the winner with twenty remaining.
The drama was not finished there though, with Miller hitting the post in the latter stages of what was yet another quite remarkable New Year clash.
Prior to the game a minute of silence was observed by both sets of fans for the 66 supporters who lost their lives at Ibrox on 2 January 1971. After that the noise level was cranked back up as the packed stadium got ready for this eagerly anticipated Hogmanay battle to get under way.
The wind and rain blowing across the pitch was evident from kick-off and it was Miller who got the ball from rolling from Steven McLean’s first whistle, with his side shooting towards the Celtic end.
Mark Warburton would have wanted his side to start positively and within the opening 30 seconds Barrie McKay, playing on the left wing in a 3-5-2 formation, burst between two Celtic players to win a corner, from which Danny Wilson headed over.
With four minutes on the clock McKay then slipped the ball to Holt who brought out a good save from Craig Gordon, with the big keeper diving to his right.
The game, as expected, was moving from end to end in the early stages and Mikael Lustig headed over from a corner before Scott Sinclair’s shot across goal failed to trouble Gers’ number one Foderingham.
On 13 minutes the first goal arrived and it had to be the energetic Miller, standing in as captain for the injured Lee Wallace, who got it after brilliant build-up play.
Windass fed a perfect pass to Tavernier who got to the byline before firing the ball the face of goal for Miller who put the ball into the net from four yards at the back post.
Ibrox erupted as the forward sprinted to the Bill Struth Main Stand to celebrate his ninth goal for the Light Blues against Celtic.
Before the match re-started Joe Garner was unfortunately stretched off and the Rangers fans applauded the striker as he disappeared up the tunnel with Martyn Waghorn taking his place.
With Celtic now behind a reaction was inevitable from the league leaders and on 20 minutes Callum McGregor weaved into the Gers box but his curling left-foot effort went high and wide into the Copland bears, who produced a stunning banner display in the build-up to kick-off.
It was proving to be another intriguing and entertaining battle between the Glasgow giants with Rangers looking good for their lead with the half-hour match approaching. That, of course, can quickly change in the Old Firm cauldron.
Celtic were looking vulnerable at the back and another defence-splitting pass from Windass to Tavernier carved out another opportunity but Gordon did well this time to punch away the cross with Waghorn lurking.
In attack however, Celtic were menacing and after Sinclair had hit the inside of the post and Hill cleared for a corner, Brendan Rodgers’ men had the chance to equalise and they did just that.
Armstrong’s delivery was deep but Dembele’s control was instant, and his powerful left-foot volley flew into the roof of the net above Foderingham’s reach.
Celtic were all of a sudden the team in the ascendancy and for Rangers it was just important to keep the score level at the break with a second forty-five of drama still to come.
A good save from Foderingham to deny Sinclair kept it at 1-1 and after six minutes of first-half injury time it was all to play for yet again in the second period.
Celtic were quick out the traps at the restart, with the lively Sinclair curling a free-kick over before Dembele was guilty of sclaffing a shot from the penalty spot after he had been teed up by Lustig.
Forrest should then have scored when he was sent through one-on-one with Foderingham, but the keeper did brilliantly to close the angle and block the winger’s net-bound effort.
It was now one-way traffic towards Rangers’ goal and Dembele was next up to try his luck.
Sinclair played the ball down the left side of the pitch to McGregor and his teasing cross was met by Celtic’s number 10 at full stretch.
His effort into the ground bounced up and hit the bar and Sinclair somehow steered the rebound into the side netting when it looked easier to score.
On the hour Rangers needed inspiration from somewhere if they were going to take anything from a game which they appeared to be losing grip of.
Their effort and commitment, of course, was there for all to see and the Rangers fans did everything they could to get behind the players just when they needed them most.
As the Ibrox faithful roared the players responded with McKay testing Gordon from distance before Waghorn found space in behind Celtic’s defence but he was unable to make the most of a good breakaway situation.
Miller then fired a shot down Gordon’s throat from 30 yards which the keeper did well to hold.
On 68 minutes Rangers won a corner as the pressure continued, and from Tavernier’s in-swinger Danny Wilson stooped but his header was straight at Celtic’s keeper.
As with this topsy-turvy match, just when Rangers looked more likely to score Celtic went up the other end and did just that in front of their supporters. And the winning goal was similar in many ways to Rangers’ in the first half.
Substitute Patrick Roberts found Stuart Armstrong in space on the right channel and his inviting cross to the back post was put away easily by Sinclair.
With their noses in front Celtic could quite easily have sat back but they didn’t, instead looking to increase their advantage which, in turn, left spaces at the back.
Foderingham did well to deny both Armstrong and Sinclair and with 10 minutes left Miller came within an inch or two of getting Gers back on level terms.
McKay burst forward from midfield, leaving three Celtic players in his wake before finding Halliday on the right. His curling low cross was perfect for Miller but the Gers ace could only beat Gordon and hit the post, to the disappointment of the Ibrox faithful who were sure he had scored his second goal of the game.
That was as close as Rangers would come to equalising and despite their best efforts it was Celtic who held out to claim all three points from this Hogmanay Old Firm fixture.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Kiernan, Hill, Wilson, Tavernier, Windass (Dodoo 65), Halliday, Holt (Forrester 83), McKay, Garner (Waghorn 16), Miller
SUBS: Gilks, Hodson, Crooks, O’Halloran
GOALS: Miller 13
BOOKINGS: Hill, Tavernier, Windass
CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre, Forrest (Roberts 68), Brown, Armstrong, McGregor (Bitton 86), Sinclair, Dembele
SUBS: De Vries, Toure, Griffiths, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven
GOALS: Dembele 33, Sinclair 70
BOOKINGS: Simunovic, Lustig, Brown
REF: Steven McLean