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.
Steven Gerrard is quite keen to stick around as Rangers boss following a strong start to his managerial career, leading the 39-year-old first-time manager to sign a two-year contract extension on Friday.
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With his current contract previously set to run through the 2021-22 season, Gerrard’s services have been secured until the summer of 2024.
Gerrard has been largely successful since taking over the Scottish Premiership side last summer, guiding Rangers to their highest points total (78) since returning to the first division in 2016, and a second-place finish (also for the first time) behind rivals Celtic. Rangers reached the Europa League’s round of 32 on Thursday, marking their first trip to the knockout round of European competition since 2011.
That much success so quickly will undoubtedly lead to Gerrard’s name being linked with increasingly large jobs in England, likely prompting Rangers to act preemptively.
“I’m delighted to be extending my stay at this fantastic football club. When the chairman approached me about the possibility of extending my contract with Rangers, it was a very easy decision to make because I’m very happy and feel that we are building something special together at the club.
“I’d like to thank the board for the backing they have given me already in my time at the club and also most importantly, the Rangers fans who have given me and the team such tremendous backing both this season and last.”
Two Celtic fans have been stabbed in Rome ahead of their UEFA Europa League clash with Lazio on Thursday.
Police in the Italian capital have confirmed that 52-year-old and 35-year-old fans were stabbed in close proximity in separate incidents.
A brawl took place outside an Irish pub to spark the trouble, as Celtic had previously warned their fans about potential trouble in Rome.
The two supporters who were stabbed have been admitted to Policlinico Umberto I hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Here are more details from our partners in the UK, Sky Sports:
An eyewitness has told Sky Sports News that a group of Celtic fans were drinking outside the pub when they were approached by four or five people wearing masks.
They added that a chair was thrown towards the Celtic fans leading to a fight that lasted around 15 seconds, during which time one person was stabbed to the side of his torso.
Celtic supporters and bar staff brought the victim inside the pub and they remained conscious while an ambulance was called. The eyewitness said the crowd had been well behaved up until the incident took place.
Celtic toppled Rangers 1-0 in the first Old Firm derby of the season on Sunday at the Ibrox Stadium, Neil Lennon out-foxing Steven Gerrard via Odsonne Eduoard.
In a match with as many fouls as shot attempts, the man Celtic supporters call “French Eddy” make the difference with a goal and a stoppage time assist of Jonny Hayes.
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Rangers’ Jordan Jones was sent off for a reckless sliding foul in the sixth minute of stoppage.
It was Rangers’ first loss of the season, leaving Gerrard’s men three points back of perfect Celtic after four match days.
And for Celtic boss Lennon, it was somehow… vindication? The dominant side of Scottish football clearly had a thorn stuck in its foot despite its consistent run of titles, probably due to a shortened Champions League campaign and the perceived uninspiring hire of Lennon to replace Brendan Rodgers:
“Myself, the board, the players have all been written off so early. But we don’t believe the noise. We don’t believe the hype. We’ve come here and performed an outstanding masterclass of how to play in a derby at Ibrox.”
The 21-year-old Eduoard scored his fifth goal in seven Old Firm Derbies to go with two assists. All of those matches were wins for the Bhoys. It’s safe to say he’s taken the mantle of rival star from Moussa Dembele, now of Lyon.
Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor was very good in the second half, giving his men a chance after the hosts’ early second half surge relented and saw Celtic on the front foot.
Gerrard lost a derby at the Ibrox for the first time, entering the day 2-2 with wins at home and losses at Celtic Park.
The UEFA Europa League playoff round has arrived and it is crunch time for three British teams hoping to reach the group stage of the competition.
[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]
Wolverhampton Wanderers have negotiated the second and third qualifying rounds to reach this stage, as the Premier League side have made light work of Crusaders and Pyunik but Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men now have a really tough challenge. They play Serie A side Torino in Turin on Thursday in the first leg, and after Wolves drew against Man United on Monday they’ve had little time to rest.
Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic and Rangers are also in action, with Neil Lennon’s Celtic disappointed to crash out of the Champions League in the qualifying rounds as they now have to dust themselves off and get past Swedish side AIK.
Steven Gerrard and Rangers have had to battle through three rounds of qualifying to get to this stage and they head to Legia Warsaw knowing they will be up against it. The Polish giants finished second in their top-flight last season and Rangers will be relying heavily on top goalscorer Alfredo Morales to come up with the goods once again.
Feyenoord host Hapoel Beer-Sheva, Daniel Sturridge‘s Trabzonspor head to AEK Athens and Northern Irish side Linfield host Qarabag in some of the other intriguing clashes, as the first legs are set to be tight and tense with group stage qualification on the line.
Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while below is the schedule for the Europa League playoff games on Thursday. We will have you covered on Wolves’ European adventure here on Pro Soccer Talk with reaction and analysis.
Thursday’s Europa League playoff round first legs
Astana 3-0 BATE Borisov
Avan Academy v. Dudelange — 11 a.m. ET
FK Suduva v. Ferencvaros — 1 p.m. ET
Malmo v. Bnei Yehuda — 1 p.m. ET
Feyenoord v. Hapoel Beer-Sheva — 1:30 p.m. ET
Ludogorets v. Maribor — 1:30 p.m. ET
Copenhagen v. Riga — 1:45 p.m. ET
AEK Athens v. Trabzonspor — 2 p.m. ET
Legia Warsaw v. Rangers — 2 p.m. ET
FCSB v. Vitoria — 2:30 p.m. ET
Gent v. Rijeka — 2:30 p.m. ET
PSV Eindhoven v. Apollon Limassol — 2:30 p.m. ET
Strasbourg v. Eintracht Frankfurt — 2:30 p.m. ET
AZ Alkmaar v. Antwerp — 2:30 p.m. ET
Celtic v. AIK — 2:45 p.m. ET
Linfield v. Qarabag — 2:45 p.m. ET
Braga v. Spartak Moscow — 2:45 p.m. ET
Espanyol v. Zorya — 3 p.m. ET
Torino v. Wolves — 3 p.m. ET
Partizan v. Molde — 3 p.m. ET
Slovan Bratislava v. PAOK — 3 p.m. ET