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Rangers beat Celtic to take charge of title race

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Rangers beat bitter rivals Celtic 2-1 in the Old Firm derby at Celtic Park on Sunday as Steven Gerrard‘s side now have the chance to jump ahead of their Glasgow rivals and move to the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Rangers took the lead in the first half after Alan McGregor saved a penalty kick from Ryan Christie as Ryan Kent then made it 1-0 three minutes later, but Odsonne Edouard equalized for Celtic just before the break in a typically tight, feisty encounter.

Nikola Katic scored the winner for Rangers who had top goalscorer Alfredo Morales sent off late on, as Gerrard and his players celebrated wildly at the final whistle.

After losing the Scottish League Cup final in extra time to 10-man Celtic earlier this month after missing a penalty kick, this victory would have tasted sweet for Gerrard and Co.

Celtic have won the Scottish title for the last eight seasons on the trot but they are now two points ahead of Rangers but the latter have a game in hand.

Could this be the year Rangers finally break Celtic’s stranglehold on the Scottish title? The ‘Gers last won the title in 2011 and since then they’ve been relegated to the fourth tier, promoted back to the top-flight and now they seem to be serious contenders for Celtic.

With both teams in the knockout round of the UEFA Europa League in the second half of this season it will be intriguing to see who handles the domestic and European games better.

Live, Europa League: Wolves return to Europe

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Wolverhampton Wanderers are playing at home in Europe for the first time in 39 years.

The home fans at Molineux can barely contain their excitement.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Nuno Espirito Santo’s men take on Crusaders of Northern Ireland on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, first leg.

Wolves’ reward for finishing seventh in their first campaign back in the Premier League last season is a clash against the Northern Irish side, and it is a tie they are expected to get through comfortably.

They’ve looked sharp in preseason so far and beat Manchester City on penalty kicks to win the PL Asia Trophy last week.

Elsewhere in Europa League action Steven Gerrard’s Glasgow Rangers face Progres, who knocked them out of the competition two years ago, plus Torino, Espanyol, Legia Warsaw and Eintracht Frankfurt are all in action.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while below is the schedule for the later Europa League qualifying games on Thursday. We will have you covered on Wolves’ European adventure here on Pro Soccer Talk with a recap, reaction and analysis.

Europa League fixtures
Piast Gliwice v. Riga — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Norrkoping v. Liepaja — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vidi v. Vaduz — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Luzern v. KI — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Aris v. AEL — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Dunajska Streda v. Atromitos — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Gent v. Viitorul — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Jeunesse Esch v. Vitoria — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
AZ Alkmaar v. BK Hacken — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Domzale v. Malmo — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Strasbourg v. Maccabi Haifa — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Rangers v. Progres — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Wolves v. Crusaders — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Buducnost v. Zorya — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Shamrock Rovers v. Apollon Limassol — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Valur v. Ludogorets Razgrad — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Torino v. Debrecen — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Espanyol v. Stjarnan — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Legia Warsaw v. KuPS — 3 p.m. ET Thursday

WATCH: Rangers, Canada midfielder with vicious red card challenge

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Canada and Glasgow Rangers midfielder Scott Arfield was sent off this weekend for a terrible sliding challenge on Hearts of Midlothian goalkeeper Zdebek Zlamal.

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Steven Gerrard‘s men led 2-1 in the 72nd minute when Arfield, 30, charged hard toward Zlamal, who was in the process of controlling a ball on the goal line.

Zlamal got hold of the ball a second before Arfield slid hard into the ball, going through it to connect with the goalkeeper’s face.

Rangers held on to win, taking a single-point lead on rivals Celtic atop the table (though the Bhoys have a match-in-hand).

There’s really no defense for it, as it’s going to be called every time. Any player who’s been anywhere near an attacking third is cognizant of the goalkeeper’s protection.

Maybe the former Burnley man just didn’t care, hopeful of that third goal to put away Hearts.

The Scottish midfielder with 13 caps and a goal for Canada is sure to miss time after the incident.

USMNT’s Hyndman scores late winner for Rangers

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Like many Americans before him, Emerson Hyndman is enjoying life at Glasgow Rangers.

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Hyndman, 20, is on loan to the Scottish giants from Premier League side Bournemouth and he scored a last-gasp winner for the 10-man ‘Gers against St. Johnstone on Wednesday after also crashing an effort off the woodwork.

The Fulham academy product has now scored three goals in eight game since joining Rangers in January and after the likes of Alejandro Bedoya, DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra all enjoyed fruitful spells at Iborx in the past there’s another USMNT player following in their footsteps.

Of course, Rangers aren’t quite the powerhouse they once were and they’re currently managerless with Mark Warburton leaving earlier this month and Graeme Murty in temporary charge.

Still, the Scottish Premiership is a good place ground for Hyndman to grow and develop and he’ll come up against a fellow U.S. national team product Perry Kitchen who captains Hearts in Scotland’s top-flight.

Take a look at the video above to see Hyndman’s calm finish which keeps Rangers in third place in the table and now six points behind second-place Aberdeen.

While below is his reaction to scoring the late winner for Rangers.

Reports say Joey Barton involved in betting; Celtic respond to transfer rumors

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Joey Barton has a book, “No Nonsense” is the title, coming out this week. Let’s just start with that.

Right now though, there’s plenty more on the mind of the Glasgow Rangers midfielder.

[ MORE: Kane injury update ]

Less than 24 hours after being suspended for three weeks by Glasgow Rangers for a training ground bust-up with a teammate, it has been alleged that Barton is being investigated by the Gambling Commission for breaking betting rules.

It is alleged by the Daily Record newspaper in Scotland that Barton, 34, had bet on a game involving Glasgow Celtic and Barcelona. It is claimed he bet on Celtic to lose heavily at Barca, just days after Rangers lost 5-1 to their fierce Old Firm rivals in their first derby since returning to Scotland’s top-flight.

That defeat sparked a training ground bust-up between Barton and Andy Halliday a few days later, which has since seen him suspended by manager Mark Warburton with Barton reportedly refusing to apologize to his manager on Monday for the incident. These latest allegations seem to suggest his time at Rangers could well be over after just two months playing at Ibrox.

If found guilty, Barton could be looking at a two or three game suspension from the Scottish FA who are yet to comment on the matter but they’ve had a hard line approach to any player caught betting on any game in the world. That is prohibited under SFA rules.

Another interesting piece of news involving Barton and Celtic has also arisen on Tuesday with an interview he gave with the Guardian in which he suggests he’s made a mistake in signing for Rangers and not staying with Burnley and he also supports his claim in his new book that Celtic tried to hijack his move to Rangers this summer.

Well, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has cleared up any confusion about the Hoops trying to sign Barton when talking to STV.

“I think Joey’s been had by a bit of a matchmaker here. I remember it well, we had just announced Brendan as our new manager and I was with our Company Secretary in London at the time. An agent called me saying that Joey was going to sign for Rangers but he would really prefer to come to Celtic and were we interested in signing him, but it wasn’t something we wanted to pursue. These things happen to players sometimes in football, but needless to say we wish Joey well at his new club.”

Grab some popcorn.

The next few days in Glasgow will be interesting to see how this shambolic Barton situation continues to unravel.