Rangers 1-0 Celtic: Ryan Jack gives Rangers first Old Firm win in 13 games
Rangers now level on points with Celtic at top of Scottish Premiership, though Celtic have a game in hand
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 30/12/18 6:03pm
Ryan Jack's first-half goal gave Steven Gerrard's Rangers a long-awaited 1-0 victory over Celtic on Saturday, their first Old Firm win in 13 games in all competitions.
After Rangers had gone close three times in two minutes in the first half, midfielder Jack gave the hosts the lead as his shot deflected off Scott Brown following fine work from Ryan Kent (30).
Gerrard's side were dominant in both halves against their bitter rivals, as Craig Gordon made two fine stops to deny the superb Kent, while at the other end Andy Halliday made a brilliant block from Olivier Ntcham's effort late on.
The result means Rangers go level on points with leaders Celtic, though the champions do have a game in hand.
Much of the talk before the game was of Celtic's reduced ticket allocation of just 750, and 98.5 per cent of Ibrox was bouncing after a fine first-half performance from Gerrard's side.
Rangers: McGregor (6), Tavernier (8), Goldson (7), Worrall (7), Halliday (9), Jack (8), McCrorie (7), Arfield (9), Kent (9), Candeias (7), Morelos (7)
Subs: Coulibaly (6), Flanagan (NA)
Celtic: Gordon (7), Lustig (5), Boyata (5), Benkovic (5), McGregor (6), Brown (4), Ntcham (5), Christie (6), Forrest (5), Sinclair (5), Johnston (5)
Subs: Ajer (5), Ralston (6), Edouard (5)
Man of the match: Scott Arfield
They came close three times in a bizarre two-minute spell; first Daniel Candeias' far-post effort came off the hand of Callum McGregor and fortuitously into the body of Gordon, before the Celtic goalkeeper did brilliantly to tip away Candeias' header a minute later.
From the resulting Halliday corner, Celtic captain Scott Brown headed onto his own bar, but Rangers only had to wait 10 minutes to get their deserved opener.
The big news was that youngster Michael Johnston came in for Celtic, with Edouard on the bench. Izaguirre was injured, and Ntcham replaced Rogic.
For Rangers, Arfield was in for Coulibaly, and Kent came in for Middleton
Liverpool loanee Kent picked up the ball on the left and sent Mikael Lustig flying with a cute turn at the byline, and his pull-back was hit first time by Jack 15 yards out, taking a slight touch off Brown's ankle as it went through his legs and past Gordon.
Rangers were superb throughout the remainder of the first half, restricting 19-year-old Michael Johnston to scraps on his Old Firm debut, and should have been 2-0 up after the break as Gordon produced a string of fine saves again.
Kent found himself one-on-one with him after a defensive mix-up, but Gordon got down to save, before Dedryck Boyata cleared Scott Arfield's shot off the line.
The impressive Kent then saw his stroked effort for the bottom corner superbly tipped away by Gordon, while Callum McGregor blocked Arfield's close-range effort brilliantly.
McGregor had the ball in the net at the other end, only for the goal to be correctly ruled out for a marginal offside, but Celtic's best chance fell to Ntcham, running onto the ball 12 yards out only to see Halliday get his body in the way of the ball.
Steven Gerrard: "This moment is all about the supporters, they've been through a lot, and certainly in this fixture they've been punished a lot. The players to a man were outstanding, all over the pitch. I asked if we could win more one-v-ones across the pitch, and we won them all. All 11, we were better to a man."
Brendan Rodgers: "I thought the best team won. Rangers played well in the game, and we had a lot of unforced mistakes, didn't create as much as we'd like. We've got no excuses."
Kris Commons: "In all departments, the way they pressed, passed the ball, the passion. There was a belief there. It was strange to see Celtic dominating nothing. It was so unlike them."
Neil McCann: "The team selection, the tactics by Steven Gerrard were spot-on."
Rangers now go to Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup fourth round after the three-week break, while Celtic host Airdrieonians