Rangers fans celebrate huge Old Firm win over bitter rivals Celtic by letting off flares and fireworks outside Ibrox… but Steven Gerrard insists the title race is NOT already over despite his side going 19 points clear
- Celtic captain Callum McGregor deflected a corner into his own net at Ibrox
- The win saw Rangers open up an astonishing 19-point gap over their arch rivals
- But Steven Gerrard insisted he will warn his players the league is not over yet
- Rangers fans nonetheless celebrated with a stunning flare and fireworks display
Steven Gerrard declined to grandstand after Rangers’ third consecutive victory over Celtic, insisting Saturday’s 1-0 derby win offers no guarantee of league-winning glory.
A break in front of goal saw Celtic captain Callum McGregor deflect a corner into his own net at Ibrox to open up a 19-point chasm at the top of the Premiership table.
While bookmakers moved quickly to slash Rangers’ title odds to a best price of 1-16, Ibrox manager Gerrard insisted he will warn his players against listening to the prevailing view that the league race is now over.
Steven Gerrard declined to grandstand after Rangers’ third consecutive victory over Celtic
A break in front of goal saw Celtic captain Callum McGregor deflect a corner into his own net
He said: ‘I’d be a liar if I said we are not going to be aware of that. Prior to this game, we were aware of the noise.
‘But it’s my job to protect my players and we are not going to gain anything or get an advantage by listening to the noise and getting involved in playing to it.
‘We need to keep a tight-knit group and keep doing the right things. We know it’s going to be tough. Teams are going to keep trying to beat us. But we need to just keep being ourselves.
‘Everything we have done this season has got us into this position and we need to keep fighting to remain there. We haven’t shown in previous years that we can go the distance. So the challenge for us is to stay humble and hungry.’
The goal helped to open up a 19-point chasm at the top of the Scottish Premiership table
The result was another setback for Celtic and Neil Lennon in their bid for a tenth straight title
To that end, Gerrard refuses to acknowledge the full extent of the gap, instead exercising caution by referencing the three games in hand held by their rivals.
But fans of the Ibrox side were not so cautious and gathered outside the club’s home ground to celebrate a double over their arch rivals with a vibrant and explosive display of flares and fireworks.
In a video on social media, dozens of fans are seen waving their flares on either side of the street, chanting away in delight before a series of fireworks are let off.
However, Gerrard admitted his team had been outplayed for large spells of Saturday’s game, he nevertheless insisted Rangers’ good fortune had been earned over the course of his two and a half year tenure.
He said: ‘My reaction to the win is I’m really proud, really happy and satisfied with three important points. It stretches our lead to 10 points with where’s it at.
Gerrard insisted he will warn his players against listening to the view the league race is over
There was no such caution from Rangers fans who celebrated outside Ibrox after the game
‘We played against a really good team today. Celtic were excellent for the first 45 minutes and we really struggled to get a foothold in the game. The players deserve to enjoy tonight. It’s another derby win, two out of two this season.
‘We will give them a day or two off now to spend with their families because they have really sacrificed themselves over Christmas. But there are 48 points to play for – no-one will be getting carried away, we will keep our feet on the ground.
‘The league starts now for us. We need to reset and really go and try to get a positive result at Aberdeen.’
The game turned on an error by Celtic defender Nir Bitton, who was caught wrong side of Alfredo Morelos in reaction to a long pass and hauled the Colombian down.
Bobby Madden’s decision to red card the defender was contested by Celtic but Rangers took full advantage, scoring within seven minutes before managing the game to a conclusion.
The street was lined with fans either side holding flares and chanting away in celebration
Fireworks were also then set off as Rangers fans celebrated a third straight win over Celtic
‘There was a significant improvement in us from half-time up until the red card but these games are all about big moments,’ continued Gerrard. ‘Celtic have got one badly wrong and we have capitalised on it and gone on to win the game.
‘You don’t always get out of this game what your performance deserves. We know that more than most. So to win and not be at our best is a big positive for me.
‘People won’t remember the performance or what happened in the game in months to come.
‘I don’t get many people stopping me on the street now and telling me how great we were in the League Cup Final last season which we never got anything from. So it’s about the result at the end of the day.’
The game turned on an error by Celtic defender Nir Bitton, who was sent off at Ibrox
That cup final loss to Celtic in December 2019 offers the most obvious reference point for Saturday’s game.
‘It’s not about revenge or payback,’ insisted Gerrard. ‘The message is that sometimes in football you don’t get what you deserve. That’s been the way for many years. Celtic were dominant in the first 45 minutes, that’s for sure. You and I know it’s about the result. We are taking three points away and that’s all I wanted from today.
‘I didn’t want my team to be outstanding and lose this match. I’d much rather be sitting here in the position I’m in. For me, it’s not about the balance of power. It’s about us focusing on us.
‘It was a big game today. It could have gone three ways – it could have stayed the same, we could increase the lead or they could cut it back. This was the outcome we wanted. For me, it’s about staying in the now and not worrying about what’s gone before or what’s further down the line.’
Gerrard also reserved special praise for goalkeeper Allan McGregor after the win.
Gerrard also reserved special praise for goalkeeper Allan McGregor after the win at Ibrox
The veteran goalkeeper produced the game’s stand-out moment with a stunning save to tip Leigh Griffiths’ first-half shot onto the post.
McGregor turns 39 later this month and while Gerrard acknowledges he won’t go on forever, he retains his capacity to change and influence the biggest matches.
‘I was delighted with him,’ said Gerrard. ‘He got Man of the Match and it was thoroughly deserved. A couple of the saves in the first half were world class. We talk about him a lot after big games, which tells its own story. You are talking about a legend of the club, a phenomenal goalkeeper.
‘It’s a shame he is nearly as old as me, because I’d love him to be my keeper for many more years. I’m really proud of his performance today.’
On the opposite end of the scale, Gerrard backed winger Ryan Kent to rediscover his best form after his latest subdued performance.
Gerrard backed winger Ryan Kent to rediscover his best form after a subdued performance
The £7 million buy from Liverpool has struggled for consistency since making his loan move from Liverpool permanent in the summer of 2019 but Gerrard insists he maintains real trust in the 24-year-old.
‘I spent big money on Ryan Kent because I have a lot of trust in him. He is a fantastic talent. I still think he can improve in certain areas and continue to grow. But putting him back in the team today was a big show of trust and respect from me to Ryan.
‘I don’t think he was at his fluent best today over the course of the 90 minutes but he definitely let Celtic know we carry pace and a threat. That’s what he brings to the team.
‘He started the season in red-hot form, he’s probably come away from that slightly. But it wouldn’t surprise me in the coming weeks if he didn’t get back to his best and that’s very important for us.’
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