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Celtic 0-0 Rangers

By Colin Moffat

Allan McGregor gathers during a rare goalmouth scramble
There was much endeavour on show but little entertainment

Celtic remain two points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League after a dreary draw at home to Rangers.

Celtic striker Scott McDonald was guilty of an astonishing miss, heading wide from close range after 15 minutes.

The second half belonged to Rangers, with Artur Boruc making a good save to prevent a Stephen McManus own goal and keeping out a David Weir header.

Celtic's Shunsuke Nakamura curled a late free kick on target but Allan McGregor made a comfortable stop.

It was tame stuff by Old Firm standards, with Rangers setting out to absorb limited Celtic pressure in the first half, while the second period saw the visitors open up and look the more dangerous team.

With the midfield area congested, neither side was able to really establish any passing rhythm as possession was won, then surrendered, at a rapid rate of knots throughout the match.

Rangers deployed Kyle Lafferty as a lone striker and Boruc had to claw away a dangerous early cross from John Fleck, with the tall Ulsterman looming at the back post.

Chances were at a premium in a dismal first 45 minutes but McDonald passed up a golden opportunity for the home side.

Willo Flood, making his Celtic debut, got the better of Fleck on the right and whipped in a wonderful cross, only to see the Australian striker glance a header wide of the mark from just a few yards out.

For the remainder of the first half Gordon Strachan's side saw a lot more of the ball, with Pedro Mendes and Barry Ferguson failing to assert any authority for Rangers in the middle of the park.

But the intelligent promptings of Nakamura were not matched by his Celtic team-mates and Walter Smith's men were not overworked to ensure McGregor remained just as idle as his opposite number, Boruc.


Five minutes after the interval, Madjid Bougherra cut in from the right and let fly with a shot, which Celtic skipper McManus diverted towards his own goal with his head, forcing Boruc to make a smart save.

The Celtic keeper comfortably gathered an angled drive from Lafferty and Ferguson made a mess of his strike on the edge of the penalty box as Rangers adopted a more positive approach.

Rangers substitute Kenny Miller ran on to a clever back-heel from Steven Davis but shot horribly wide as he looked to curl one across the bows of Boruc.

Veteran defender Weir then powered a header on target from a Mendes corner and Boruc had to make a fine reaction stop to tip the ball over his crossbar.

The hopes of home fans were raised with the award of an 89th-minute free-kick but Nakamura's curling effort from 25 yards was kept out by the diving McGregor and Kirk Broadfoot was on hand to clear up.

Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor, Flood (McGeady 62), Scott Brown (Crosas 84), Hartley, Nakamura, McDonald, Vennegoor of Hesselink (Samaras 62). Subs Not Used: Mark Brown, Loovens, Hutchinson, O'Dea.

Booked: Vennegoor of Hesselink, Hartley, Scott Brown.

Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Bougherra, Weir, Papac, McCulloch, Davis, Ferguson, Mendes, Fleck (Miller 59), Lafferty (Naismith 74). Subs Not Used: Alexander, Edu, Boyd, Whittaker, Niguez.

Booked: Weir, Naismith, Ferguson, McCulloch, Mendes.

Att: 58,766

Ref: C Murray

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see also
Celtic v Rangers as it happened
15 Feb 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
15 Feb 09 |  Scottish Premier

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