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Page last updated at 22:15 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 23:15 UK

Walter Smith challenges Celtic defender Hinkel's claims

Walter Smith (centre) with assistants Kenny McDowall and Ally McCoist
Smith (centre) looks on concerned as his Rangers team lose 2-1 to Celtic

Rangers manager Walter Smith has questioned Celtic defender Andreas Hinkel's pre-match assertion that his team are better than the Ibrox side.

After the 2-1 defeat at Celtic, Smith said: "If he is proud of the way his team have handled themselves, I'd be disappointed in him as a professional.

"But I am proud of the way my own players have handled themselves.

"They have won things - six trophies in three years, Celtic have won two - so they have not been the better side."

The German defender said on Monday: "It is always a big game against Rangers and we can show that we are a better than them.

"Of course the league is finished but we can show, not the world, but all of Scotland at least that Celtic are a better team than Rangers."

These comments, though, had evidently registered with Smith and in the wake of his team's defeat at their old rivals, he was in no mood to let them pass without challenge.

The Rangers manager said: "When you listen to Andreas Hinkel say that they are a better team than Rangers, you've got to ask them why they are where they are at the moment.

"If Neil (Lennon) is getting the best out of them they have got to ask themselves as professionals why the previous manager didn't do so and why they haven't won the trophies that they should have won.

"They certainly showed plenty of endeavour today and if they had done that in every game maybe they would have found themselves in a better position.

"If they are a better side than Rangers then they have got to prove it.

"They may on their day play better, but on the majority of days our team has been better than them."

Celtic looked the hungrier side in the first half of the final Old Firm encounter of the season, and interim manager Lennon will have boosted his chances of landing the job for next season with his seventh consecutive league win.

In the second half we had far more clear-cut opportunities and I'd have hoped we'd have taken one of them

Rangers manager Walter Smith

A deflected free-kick from Lee Naylor left substitute goalkeeper Neil Alexander with no chance after eight minutes, then Kenny Miller headed Steven Whittaker's perfect cross home to level two minutes before the break.

But as the Rangers fans celebrated, Celtic went ahead again just before the interval when Naylor's superb delivery from the left was met by Marc-Antoine Fortune, who climbed above Stevie Smith to head powerfully into the net.

"I'm disappointed to be leaving with nothing," Smith told BBC Scotland.

"In the first half Celtic were the better side. There was nothing we could do about the first goal - the deflection - but I'm disappointed with the defending for the second.

"In the second half we had far more clear-cut opportunities and I'd have hoped we'd have taken one of them.

"I don't think you can think of any Rangers team that has come to Celtic Park and had it easy, regardless of who was managing them, but Neil has got them back together and they have shown a good spirit."

Having already retained the Scottish Premier League, Smith was asked if the result was sore to take.

He replied: "Of course it hurts. We are not in it to get beaten. Fortunately for me, if I'm going to remain in a job, that hasn't happened very often this season."

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see also
As it happened - Celtic v Rangers
04 May 10 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic 2-1 Rangers
04 May 10 |  Scottish Premier

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