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5 things we learned from Rangers’ Old Firm victory over Celtic

Celtic v Rangers – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Rangers moved four points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership after a 2-0 win in the first Old Firm clash of the season.

Light Blues defender Connor Goldson was the hero for Steven Gerrard’s team as he struck both goals at Celtic Park.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at five things we learned from the derby.

Rangers can now dare to dream

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When Steven Gerrard took over the Light Blues, he admitted there was a fear factor at Ibrox when it came to facing down Celtic given the heavy defeats dished out during the early days of the Brendan Rodgers era. But the mindset in the Rangers ranks had turned completely under the former Liverpool skipper and not only did his team swagger out at Parkhead believing they could compete with Celtic, they proved they can dominate the champions on their own patch as they won back-to-back derbies at Parkhead for the first time since 1995.

Rangers’ set-piece success

Rangers’ Connor Goldson (second right) heads past Vasilios Barkas

Rangers’ Connor Goldson (second right) heads past Vasilios Barkas (Jane Barlow/PA)

With towering defenders Shane Duffy and Kristoffer Ajer to aim at, Celtic were expected to pose problems from free-kicks and corners. But instead it was the Light Blues who got the better of the hosts from a set-piece as Goldson headed home the opener nine minutes into the first half after Duffy had played the defender onside. The Hoops then failed to clear their lines from another delivery just after half-time and paid the price as Goldson bundled home again.

Celtic left wheezing after Covid woes

Odsonne Edouard was left out of the Hoops squad

Odsonne Edouard was left out of the Hoops squad (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Neil Lennon was forced to leave out talisman Odsonne Edouard after he contracted coronavirus while on France Under-21 duty. He arrived back in Scotland in time to play a part but was deemed not even fit enough for a place on the bench. With Ryan Christie also missing as he self-isolates along with Israeli pair Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed, Celtic lacked spark in the final third. Albian Ajeti and Leigh Griffiths were given the nod in the second half but the frontmen lacked the fitness levels required to turn the game around.

Silence of the fans

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The first ever Old Firm clash to be staged behind closed doors because of coronavirus restrictions was an event stripped of the usual noise, colour and bitterness. The fixture was laid bare as a football contest and Gerrard’s side came out on top as Celtic, without the backing of their 60,000-strong home support, failed to match the intensity levels of their rivals. There was the odd squabble but there was no fighting in an empty house as the game largely passed without major incident.

Quiet afternoon for Beaton

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The last time John Beaton took charge of an Old Firm clash in December 2018, he was later forced to call in police after his personal contact details were leaked by Celtic supporters, with three men eventually convicted in court. He was hoping for a quieter time of it on Saturday and more or less got away with it. The Hoops faithful will complain his decision to award the free-kick which handed Rangers their opener for a foul by Ajer on Ryan Kent was soft while Alfredo Morelos had his traditional bit of needle with Scott Brown. The Colombian’s flick of the Celtic captain’s ear may have merited a booking but he did end up in Beaton’s book later on for clattering into Duffy.