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Is the Old Firm match a title decider?

Venue: Ibrox Stadium Date: Saturday 9 May Kick-off: 1230 BST Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website. Online highlights available from 1800 BST on Sunday.

By Andy Campbell, BBC Scotland

Saturday's final Old Firm match of the season could go a long way to deciding who wins the Scottish Premier League but both Celtic manager Gordon Strachan and Rangers counterpart Walter Smith are playing down suggestions of a title decider.

Here, BBC Scotland reviews how the final Old Firm derby of the season has impacted the SPL title race in previous campaigns.


27 April 2003: Rangers 1-2 Celtic
(Celtic victory, Rangers win league)

Celtic travelled to Ibrox days after securing a place in the Uefa Cup final.

John Hartson
Hartson's goal proved to be the winner in April 2003

The then reigning champions trailed their city rivals by five points but a penalty by Alan Thompson and a John Hartson strike before half-time set Celtic on their way to victory.

Ronald de Boer headed a second-half consolation but the home side were unable to draw level.

Rangers dropped points again the following week and found themselves level on points with Celtic with three rounds of fixtures to go.

Both sides claimed victories over the last three weeks of the league season and Rangers pipped Celtic to the SPL crown on goal difference before completing a domestic treble.


24 April 2005: Rangers 1-2 Celtic
(Celtic victory, Rangers win league)

In Martin O'Neill's final Old Firm match in charge of Celtic, the league leaders recorded another narrow victory at Ibrox.

Marvin Andrews and Craig Bellamy
Bellamy (right) tussles with Marvin Andrews in April 2005

Goals from Stylian Petrov and Craig Bellamy put the visitors 2-0 up at half-time.

Stephen Thompson scored late in the game for Rangers, who fell five points behind their opponents.

But Celtic lost two of their remaining fixtures, allowing Rangers to steal the title by a single point on the last day of the season.

Rangers won against Hibernian at Easter Road while Celtic suffered a late defeat at Motherwell, with Scott McDonald scoring twice against the club he would join two years later.


27 April 2008: Celtic 3-2 Rangers
(Celtic victory, Celtic win league)

Celtic trailed Rangers ahead of this eventful match but had beaten the Ibrox club 11 days previously in a rearranged fixture.

Barry Robson scores a penalty
Robson scores the winning penalty in May 2008

Scott McDonald opened the scoring for the home side and then levelled before half-time after David Weir and Daniel Cousin had put Rangers in front.

Barry Robson converted a second-half penalty to edge Celtic back in front and a late red card for Steven Whittaker completed Rangers' misery.

Victory for Celtic cut the gap to four points and two draws and a defeat for Rangers in their remaining fixtures allowed Gordon Strachan's to move top and claim a third successive league title.


Playing for pride: 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007

Kris Boyd
Kris Boyd's only goal against Celtic came in May 2007

Due to the nature of the SPL split, it has not been uncommon for the final Old Firm match of the season to have taken place after the championship has been decided.

On five occasions since the split came into being for the 2000/01 season, Celtic have claimed the title before facing Rangers for the last league derby of the campaign.

On such occasions, Celtic recorded wins in 2001 and 2004, there were draws in 2002 and 2006 and Rangers were victors in 2007.



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see also
Rangers v Celtic
07 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
Smith plays down Celtic encounter
07 May 09 |  Rangers
Hartley praises Strachan's impact
08 May 09 |  Celtic
Pat Nevin's Old Firm overview
06 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
Sportscene Old Firm preview
05 May 09 |  Scotland


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