Rangers' double goalscorer Kenny Miller celebrates with his team-mates
By Keir Murray
Rangers survived a spirited second-half onslaught by Celtic to win the first Old Firm match of the season.
Kenny Miller showed pace and poise to meet a Kris Boyd through ball and slot past Artur Boruc in eight minutes.
Shaun Maloney had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down by Craig Thomson before Miller out-muscled and out-sprinted Glenn Loovens to add a second.
Aiden McGeady scored from the spot after a Sasa Papac trip, but Celtic's subsequent pressure was not rewarded.
Both sets of fans were shocked when the teams were announced, with the home side fielding Northern Ireland international Andrew Little at right-back for his first start.
Rangers centre-back Madjid Bougherra and his usual replacement in that position, Lee McCulloch, had succumbed to flu so Papac moved into the centre of defence with David Weir.
Few among the visiting support would have predicted that Celtic manager Tony Mowbray would hand China captain Zheng Zhi his debut, while Lee Naylor made his first start of the season.
The opening exchanges were played at a frantic pace, with Maloney and Scott McDonald testing the Rangers rearguard, which was soon to change formation when Little went off injured in just 13 minutes and striker Nacho Novo coming on.
In the third minute Mark Wilson's cross from the right was missed by the Rangers defence and fell to Maloney, whose left-foot shot was saved by the legs of Allan McGregor.
Dundee United, Hearts and Rapid Vienna have scored early goals against Celtic this season and Miller added Rangers to that list in the eighth minute.
Boyd clipped the ball through the centre of the Celtic defence and Miller was onto it in a flash and showed great composure to roll it past the despairing Boruc.
Celtic were denied what looked a certain penalty when David Weir cut across the advancing Maloney just a few yards from goal, but referee Thomson took no action.
McGregor gets a hand to McGeady's spot-kick but cannot prevent the goal
When Maloney went sprawling in the box a second time, he was booked for diving.
No sooner had Thomson put his yellow card back in his pocket than Rangers doubled their lead.
Celtic's central-defensive frailties were cruelly exposed when Miller latched onto McGregor's long punt and outmuscled Loovens before despatching a shot past Boruc - despite the Pole getting a hand to his effort.
As play raged on, Celtic were awarded a penalty when Papac made a clumsy challenge on Zheng Zhi just inside the box.
McGeady's stuttering run-up allowed him a fraction of additional time to place the spot-kick and, though McGregor got a hand to it, his low kick found the net to bring the visitors right back into the game.
Rangers boss Walter Smith took in the match from the stand, the first of his four-match domestic ban, and he had plenty of cause for concern as Celtic began to exert their authority.
As the interval loomed Boyd took an accidental blow to the cheek in a challenge with Landry N'Guemo and looked groggy as he was led from the pitch to make way for Kyle Lafferty.
Rangers' best piece of football since their second goal came against a backdrop of Celtic pressure.
Steven Naismith skilfully worked his way down the left wing and cut the ball infield to Miller. His shot had plenty of power but insufficient curl to beat Boruc at his far post.
With Rangers sitting deep, conditions were ripe for the runs of McGeady.
And it was the Republic of Ireland international who fed McDonald 12 yards out, but the striker's shot on the turn lacked venom and McGregor saved comfortably.
McGeady had four Rangers defenders scrambling in his wake in 68 minutes, yet could not trouble McGregor with his left-foot shot.
The impetus, though, was with Celtic, and McDonald was giving Weir and Papac a torrid time.
Paddy McCourt was given 20 minutes to fashion an equaliser for Celtic, replacing Zheng Zhi as the visitors sought a greater attacking threat.
From a free-kick, the Irishman picked out Mark Wilson rushing down the right wing and the full-back sent in a perfect low cross which Maloney touched narrowly wide.
The physical nature of the match was evidenced by a series of second-half bookings to Pedro Mendes, Wilson, Novo, Scott Brown and Loovens.
In terms of play, Rangers at last began to seize the initiative as the match moved into the final stages.
Unchallenged, Weir powered two more headers over the bar, then Wilson nudged Novo off the ball as the Spaniard raced to meet a cross right in front of goal.
And the diminutive Ibrox striker had the chance to put the game beyond Celtic with five minutes remaining.
Breaking the offside trap, he was first to the ball through the Celtic defence but his lob was athletically tipped wide by the alert Boruc.
90:00+3:16 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
89:05 Paul Caddis crosses the ball. Georgios Samaras is penalised for a handball. Allan McGregor restarts play with the free kick.
86:06 Scott McDonald is caught offside. Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.
84:26 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Pedro Mendes, Header on goal by David Weir from inside the box goes harmlessly over
84:11 Nacho Novo takes a shot. Save by Artur Boruc.
82:17 Corner from the right by-line taken by Pedro Mendes, David Weir takes a shot. Save by Artur Boruc.
82:12 Centre by Nacho Novo, clearance made by Paul Caddis.
81:04 Pedro Mendes takes the free kick.
81:04 Booking Glenn Loovens is booked.
80:58 Glenn Loovens challenges Steven Naismith unfairly and gives away a free kick.
80:03 Nacho Novo is penalised for a handball. Direct free kick taken by Artur Boruc.
77:39 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Scott McDonald, clearance made by David Weir. Inswinging corner taken by
Shaun Maloney, clearance by Steven Naismith.
77:26 A cross is delivered by Aiden McGeady, blocked by Sasa Papac.
76:00 Substitution Paul Caddis on for Lee Naylor.
75:18 Pedro Mendes takes the free kick.
75:18 Booking Booking for Scott Brown for unsporting behaviour.
74:56 Foul by Scott Brown on Nacho Novo, free kick awarded.
73:37 The ball is sent over by Mark Wilson, Effort on goal by Shaun Maloney from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right
of the target.
73:18 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Aiden McGeady by Kyle Lafferty. Scott Brown takes the free kick.
72:57 Steven Naismith fouled by Patrick McCourt, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Sasa Papac.
71:53 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Lee Naylor.
71:26 Patrick McCourt takes a shot. Sasa Papac gets a block in.
70:17 Lee Naylor fouled by Kenny Miller, the ref awards a free kick. Lee Naylor crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed
from left channel, clearance by David Weir.
69:10 Free kick crossed right-footed by Mark Wilson from right channel, David Weir makes a clearance.
69:10 Substitution Patrick McCourt replaces Zheng Zhi.
69:10 Booking Nacho Novo is given a yellow card.
69:01 Nacho Novo challenges Mark Wilson unfairly and gives away a free kick.
68:25 Shot by Aiden McGeady. Allan McGregor makes a save.
66:53 Steven Davis fouled by Shaun Maloney, the ref awards a free kick. David Weir restarts play with the free kick. Free kick awarded
for a foul by Steven Davis on Scott Brown. Artur Boruc restarts play with the free kick.
66:36 Free kick taken by Allan McGregor. Free kick awarded for a foul by Kyle Lafferty on Stephen McManus. Direct free kick taken
by Glenn Loovens.
66:03 Booking The referee books Mark Wilson for unsporting behaviour.
62:21 Free kick awarded for a foul by Kyle Lafferty on Zheng Zhi. Free kick taken by Glenn Loovens.
61:06 Direct free kick taken by Lee Naylor. The official flags Scott McDonald offside. Allan McGregor takes the direct free kick.
61:06 Substitution Georgios Samaras joins the action as a substitute, replacing Landry N'Guemo.
61:06 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee Naylor by Nacho Novo.
58:40 Scott Brown gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Naismith. Sasa Papac takes the direct free kick.
57:07 Kenny Miller challenges Scott McDonald unfairly and gives away a free kick. Shaun Maloney takes the direct free kick. Mark
Wilson takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.
56:22 The ball is delivered by Lee Naylor, Sasa Papac makes a clearance.
55:54 Scott McDonald takes a shot. Allan McGregor makes a save.
54:53 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kyle Lafferty by Stephen McManus. Steven Smith crosses the ball from the free
kick left-footed from right wing, Artur Boruc makes a save.
54:08 Kenny Miller produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the goal.
53:18 Scott McDonald is ruled offside. Allan McGregor restarts play with the free kick.
52:24 Scott McDonald fouled by David Weir, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed by Lee Naylor, Allan McGregor makes a save.
52:01 David Weir concedes a free kick for a foul on Shaun Maloney. Aiden McGeady takes the free kick.
51:55 The ball is sent over by Kenny Miller, Scott Brown manages to make a clearance.
50:48 Steven Whittaker fouled by Zheng Zhi, the ref awards a free kick. Allan McGregor takes the direct free kick.
48:34 Free kick crossed right-footed by Shaun Maloney, save by Allan McGregor.
48:34 Booking Pedro Mendes is booked.
48:25 Pedro Mendes concedes a free kick for a foul on Aiden McGeady.
47:30 Inswinging corner taken by Steven Smith, save made by Artur Boruc.
46:34 Stephen McManus challenges Kyle Lafferty unfairly and gives away a free kick. Steven Smith delivers the ball from the free
kick left-footed from right by-line, clearance made by Zheng Zhi.
45:18 Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Steven Smith, David Weir produces a header from inside the area that goes
over the crossbar.
45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
45:00+2:01 The match has reached half-time.
45:00+0:14 Steven Davis fouled by Landry N'Guemo, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by David Weir.
44:46 Foul by Nacho Novo on Mark Wilson, free kick awarded. Scott Brown takes the free kick.
42:52 Stephen McManus fouled by Kyle Lafferty, the ref awards a free kick. Artur Boruc restarts play with the free kick.
42:21 A cross is delivered by Lee Naylor.
41:38 Substitution (Rangers) makes a substitution, with Kyle Lafferty coming on for Kris Boyd.
34:52 Mark Wilson challenges Nacho Novo unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Steven Smith from
left wing, clearance by Lee Naylor. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Steven Smith, clearance by Scott Brown.
33:45 Inswinging corner taken by Lee Naylor from the right by-line, Scott McDonald concedes a free kick for a foul on Allan McGregor.
Allan McGregor restarts play with the free kick.
32:37 Foul by Sasa Papac on Aiden McGeady, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed by Lee Naylor, clearance made by Steven Naismith.
Lee Naylor takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Steven Naismith makes a clearance.
31:34 The ball is sent over by Steven Davis, save by Artur Boruc.
30:05 Scott McDonald concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Smith. Allan McGregor takes the free kick.
28:47 Free kick awarded for a foul by Aiden McGeady on Nacho Novo. Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.
25:29 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Steven Smith by Aiden McGeady. Steven Smith takes the free kick.
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