The fallout to the fourth Old Firm game of the season at Parkhead yesterday has centred – depressingly, inevitably, wearyingly – on the controversial late penalty decision.
But this was the day that a fallen empire, whose mantle as the dominant force in the land had long ago been taken by their sworn enemies, struck back.
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Celtic extended their unbeaten start to the domestic season to 35 games, stretched their lead at the top of Ladbrokes Premiership to 25 points and kept alive hopes of an entire campaign undefeated with this result.
That they can prevail with no fewer than nine games remaining underlines their utter dominance of the game in this country.
Yet, it was Rangers who were by far the happier of the Glasgow clubs last night after this 1-1 draw. They were arguably the better of the two combatants and competed far better than they had in their three previous meetings with their city rivals. Graeme Murty, who took charge of his final game as caretaker, deserves enormous credit for the vigour with which his charges performed.
Pedro Caixinha, the Portuguese manager who signed a three-year deal at Ibrox on Saturday, will surely have been greatly encouraged by what he witnessed.
Brendan Rodgers’s side certainly had an off day. Moussa Dembele, who has scored five goals against Rangers this season, failed to trouble Wes Foderingham, and Scott Sinclair was unusually subdued. The referee, too, made some highly contentious decisions which rightly angered the home team and their supporters.
This included widespread unhappiness at the free-kick which was awarded to the visitors and led indirectly to Clint Hill’s late equaliser with little over two minutes remaining.
Then there was the penalty claim. Madden refused to award one in injury-time after replacement Leigh Griffiths went to ground following a last-gasp challenge by Hill.
It was a difficult decision for the referee to call, but one that, once everyone had the chance to watch multiple action replays from a variety of different angles, most people agreed he had got it wrong.
Still, the overall Rangers display was heartening for a team which has struggled to cope with life in the top flight and has failed to compete with Celtic at any stage since winning promotion.
Armstrong – who is today set to be named in the Scotland squad – provided the moment of quality which put his side in front in the 35th minute. He pounced on an unsuccessful clearance by Holt on the edge of the opposition penalty box, fed James Forrest outside him, accepted the cut-back and whipped a ferocious left-foot shot into the bottom right corner.
Rangers deserved their equaliser given how well they had both contained and pressurised their opponents. Gordon could only push an Emerson Hyndman shot into the path of the advancing Hill who converted from just a few yards out.
That the 38-year-old centre half was in such an advanced position at that point in proceedings is testament to both his fitness levels and his professionalism.
Rangers will now believe that halting Celtic’s run of successive league wins is not as unobtainable an objective as it once seemed.
Over to Pedro.