Rangers 1-2 Celtic: Hoops extend lead at top of Scottish Premiership
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 01/01/17 7:18am
Celtic came from behind to beat Rangers 2-1 in Saturday's Old Firm clash to further extend their lead over their city rivals at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
The home team took an early lead through captain Kenny Miller's opportunistic effort, only for Moussa Dembele to equalise after 33 minutes with his fifth goal against Rangers in just three games.
However, the champions claimed bragging rights in Glasgow thanks to Scott Sinclair's close-range strike 20 minutes from time as Brendan Rodgers' side made it 15 straight league wins to move 19 points ahead of second-placed Rangers.
Mark Warburton named an unchanged side from Rangers' 1-1 draw at St Johnstone, with experienced centre-back Clint Hill available to take his place in the heart of a back three after recovering from a dead leg, but skipper Lee Wallace missed out through injury.
The visitors, meanwhile, made two alterations from their midweek win against Ross County, with Dembele recalled in place of Leigh Griffiths in attack, while Callum McGregor replaced Ryan Christie.
And it was Rangers who started the contest on the front foot, driven on by a vociferous home support as they looked to extend an impressive 33-match unbeaten record at Ibrox.
Jason Holt initially stung Craig Gordon's palms with a well-struck drive from the edge of the box after a good early run, before Rangers took a 12th-minute lead.
Josh Windass' inch-perfect slide-rule pass found the overlapping James Tavernier racing clear to the byline, before the right back's driven centre was toe poked home by Miller poaching as ever in the six-yard box.
However, despite dominating the first quarter of the encounter, Rangers were unable to make further inroads, and their rivals soon made them pay after gradually gaining a foothold in the contest.
Sinclair should have drawn the visitor's level just past the half-hour mark, but after breaking the offside trap, the pacy winger hit the post with just Wes Foderingham to beat.
That miss was immediately forgotten, though, as from the resulting corner Celtic equalised thanks to Dembele's 19th goal of the season, and what a strike it was too.
Sinclair's floated corner from the left somehow found its way through to the in-form France Under-21 international at the far post, and in the blink of an eye the striker smashed a left-footed volley through Foderingham at his near post and into the roof of the net with his side's first effort on target.
That goal completely altered the flow of the game, with Celtic taking control of proceedings thereafter, only to spurn a trio of presentable chances in the early stages of the second half.
First, the normally deadly Dembele scuffed his shot when well placed after being picked out by Mikael Lustig's clever pass, before Foderingham then came to his team's rescue by denying James Forrest with an excellent close-range block.
However, there was nothing Foderingham could do minutes later when McGregor burst clear down the left wing, before picking out Dembele in the six-yard box, only for the forward's effort to hit the bar, before Sinclair drove the rebound into the side-netting.
Eventually, though, Celtic's relentless pressure told as they went in front with 20 minutes to go after a fine move involving substitute Patrick Roberts and Stuart Armstrong, whose low cross from the right was tapped in by Sinclair at the far post.
In a topsy-turvy end to the match, both teams went close to scoring again, with Rangers particularly unfortunate not to level matters after a brilliant break by the outstanding Barrie McKay, who fed Andy Halliday breaking down the right, but Miller somehow hit the post when it seemed easier to score.
Celtic, though, also passed a number of late openings, with Armstrong himself denied twice by the increasingly busy Foderingham, as well as seeing one goalbound effort headed clear by Danny Wilson as Rangers lost an Old Firm game having taken the lead for the first time since 1993.