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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 16:54 UK

Strachan hails players in defeat

Rangers 1-0 Celtic
Strachan felt his Celtic side played with distinction at Ibrox

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan said his players deserved better than to go down to a 1-0 defeat at Ibrox - and lose top spot in the Scottish Premier League.

Steven Davis' goal eight minutes before half-time was enough to take the hosts two points clear of Celtic.

"The players were fantastic and should have got something out of the game. Not one of them was failure. They can all be proud," Strachan told BBC Scotland.

"If we show the same attitude, we'll be out there fighting in the last game."

Celtic went into the match at the home of their city rivals with a single-point advantage - and going for their fourth SPL title in succession.

However, despite enjoying long spells of pressure and possession, Shunsuke Nakamura's first-half free-kick was their only effort to trouble Rangers goalkeeper Neil Alexander.

"There was a lot of things we did right - we just couldn't put the ball in the net," lamented Strachan.

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"We had a grip of the match for long periods. We felt we might have got something and then they broke up the park and scored.

"They're a big, big side and if you can't deal with high balls then you've got a problem - and that was a problem for us."

The Celtic boss surprised many with his team selection by pitching in Shaun Maloney for his first league start since mid-December, relegating regular starter Aiden McGeady to the bench.

"You never know if things would've turned out any different. I've also left out Scott McDonald, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Shunsuke Nakamura this season," explained the Celtic boss.

"Everybody understands that's the way it is at a top club. Even Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo are left on the Manchester United bench sometimes."

And Strachan was reluctant to be drawn on claims his side had for a penalty in the first half, when McDonald fell with Steven Whittaker in close proximity.

"It doesn't matter what I say - I'll only be called a whinger if I do," he said.

"Everybody saw it, so they can make their minds up.

"But my team has to be disappointed with the result, but they can't be disappointed with their performance."



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see also
Smith wary of Rangers title talk
09 May 09 |  Rangers
Rangers 1-0 Celtic
09 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
Live text - Scottish Premier League
09 May 09 |  Scottish Premier


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