Steven Gerrard says Scott Brown antagonised Rangers players
Alfredo Morelos was sent off for elbowing Celtic captain while Ryan Kent escaped punishment in flashpoint
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 01/04/19 12:14am
Steven Gerrard has claimed his players were antagonised by Scott Brown during Celtic's ill-tempered 2-1 win over Rangers on Sunday.
Gerrard believes both sides need to be punished after a typically fiery Old Firm clash ended with two of his players red-carded.
Celtic moved 13 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership after James Forrest's 86th-minute strike decided the 415th meeting to all but end his side's faint title hopes.
Alfredo Morelos was shown his fifth red card of the season for catching Brown with an elbow in the first half, and Andy Halliday was shown a second yellow card in the tunnel after a confrontation with the Celtic captain after the final whistle.
He said: "You're playing against a player who loves to antagonise. Morelos and [Ryan] Kent are both provoked. Celtic fans have the right to celebrate but to do it right in your face, Halliday has the right to protect his own people.
"The guy who antagonised it all from the beginning deserves to be punished as well. When you're provoked, it's only fair that both sides get punished in my view.
"We've hurt ourselves badly this season with a lack of discipline. I've given my players the benefit of the doubt on too many times.
"The gap was already big and it's even bigger now. The buck stops with me and I'm ready for that. We will move forward from this and try to finish the season as strong as we can."
Kent had cancelled out Odsonne Edouard's opener to raise hopes of a first victory at Celtic Park since 2010, but a mistake from James Tavernier allowed Edouard to set up Forrest for a late winner.
Kent was fortunate to avoid being sent off after throwing his hands into Brown's face and while Gerrard cut a frustrated figure afterwards, the Celtic midfielder believes referee Bobby Madden had no option but to send off Morelos.
Brown said of the first-half flashpoint: "He gave me an elbow, and you can't do that in modern-day football, the amount of cameras there are.
"It was all about us today. It's about our performance. We dictated play in the first half, and in the second we have to dig deep."
When asked about the Kent confrontation after Forrest's winner, Brown said he could not recall it, and when pressed on his altercation with Halliday, he added: "He came up to me at the end to congratulate me."
Celtic interim manager Neil Lennon played down Gerrard's complaints claiming that Rangers were fortunate not to be reduced to nine men after Forrest's winner.
He told Sky Sports: "Brown's been caught by an elbow (by Morelos) and then Kent's put his hands in his face. If anyone's got any complaints about provocation it's us.
"I thought it was scandalous that Kent stayed on the pitch and it's the only thing the referee got wrong today."