Rangers manager Steven Gerrard celebrates with Borna Barisic at full time

Steven Gerrard gets his reward while Celtic will rue sloppy possession and the redemption of Borna Barisic continues.
Steven Gerrard gets his rewardThe Rangers manager admitted after September’s Old Firm defeat at Ibrox that he made mistakes after leaving Alfredo Morelos out and going with a different style and formation. He got it spot on at Parkhead on Sunday.It was bold to drop one of his most trusted players in Scott Arfield to bring back Steven Davis who had been out recently through injury but the Northern Ireland captain was a pillar of know-how and experience in the middle of the park.He orchestrated the Rangers press from deep, getting on top of Odsonne Edouard at every opportunity, and offered composure in the midst of a game chalked with pressure which could have seen his side go eight points behind in the league with a defeat. 4:11 Steven Gerrard said time will tell how significant Rangers’ 2-1 win against Celtic will be but praised his players for their performance away at their rivals. Steven Gerrard said time will tell how significant Rangers’ 2-1 win against Celtic will be but praised his players for their performance away at their rivals. Rangers pressed all over the pitch and refused to let Celtic’s back four, central midfielders and wide men settle for a minute. Celtic were sloppy in possession but Rangers enforced it upon the Scottish champions.Gerrard has turned Rangers from being a team who shrivelled on the big stage into one which relishes it. They have reached the last 32 in the Europa League and deserved better in the Betfred Cup final – winning at Parkhead felt like another box ticked as his side continues to evolve. 4:23 Highlights of the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers. Highlights of the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers. Neil Lennon can bounce back When Rangers beat Celtic at Ibrox in December 2018 it meant the Parkhead side went into the winter break on 42 points after 20 games played under former boss Brendan Rodgers. Celtic manager Neil Lennon says it is ‘game on’ in the title race Celtic are 10 points better off this year at the same stage under Lennon. He deserves more credit than he is getting for that.It is testament to Celtic’s home form that this defeat was their first in the league at Parkhead since May 2018. They had won 11 straight league games coming into this fixture and have won the first trophy of the season. Despite being outplayed in the last two Old Firm encounters – one of which still saw them win the Betfred Cup – Lennon will not panic.Despite losing the last game before the winter break last term Celtic re-grouped quickly and set out on a winning run while Rangers stumbled – Lennon will know Celtic are capable of doing the same again. 1:41 Neil Lennon was disappointed that Celtic’s unbeaten run came to an end against rivals Rangers but vowed that the players will regroup and bounce back. Neil Lennon was disappointed that Celtic’s unbeaten run came to an end against rivals Rangers but vowed that the players will regroup and bounce back. Both sides are bringing out the best in each other. A fascinating second half of the season awaits.The redemption of Borna Barisic Ask any Rangers supporter what they thought of Borna Barisic this time last year and the stock answer was the same: “There’s a player in there, but…”No longer. Croatia’s first-choice left-back was outstanding at Parkhead, just as he has been for most of the season. A man of the match performance which saw him notch up two assists confirmed him as one of the best left-backs in the UK. Borna Barisic celebrates for Rangers He struggled to settle in the early part of his Rangers career but Gerrard persisted despite the shaky start. Barisic looks better in every aspect of his game now – physically, mentally, positionally, defensively and going forward.Rangers look increasingly dangerous going down the left-hand side and Barisic now provides much-needed balance where teams previously only had to worry about the threat from James Tavernier on the right.Scott Brown hampered in midfield Stop Brown and you stop Celtic. It almost became a mantra for Rangers to adhere to in recent times. The Celtic captain was allowed to drop deep and dictate play at Ibrox earlier this season and the result came as no surprise.He was not afforded the same space in either the Betfred Cup final or at Parkhead on Sunday and Celtic toiled in the face of a heavy Rangers press. Scott Brown in action for Celtic When he did drop deep to pick the ball up from his defence Brown was more often than not met by blue jerseys and both he and the two centre halves struggled to make decisive passes into key areas further up the pitch as often as they would have liked.Brown and Celtic adapted to a more aggressive Rangers team when it mattered most last season and he is capable of doing it again. Ibrox in March will be fascinating.Allan McGregor’s penalty save His penalty save from Georgios Samaras in April 2011 essentially won the title for Rangers during his first stint with the club.Whether his excellent stop to deny Ryan Christie on Sunday will have quite as big an impact over the season obviously remains to be seen but it was a key moment in his side’s win. Allan McGregor celebrates his first half penalty save The former Scotland goalkeeper was in brilliant form again on Sunday, also denying Odsonne Edouard with a flying save to stop an effort that looked destined for the top corner.He and Steven Davis have been over this course before for Rangers and Gerrard will look to them to draw on that experience in encounters like this.January could be key for Celtic Neil Lennon has already confirmed Celtic are interested in signing Slovan Bratislava striker Andraz Sporar as he aims to bolster his attacking options next month. Leigh Griffiths is still working his way back to full fitness and a helping hand upfront for Odsonne Edouard could make a massive difference as the season goes on.Celtic will travel to Dubai for a warm-weather training camp as the Scottish Premiership goes into the winter break and January could be vital in terms of welcoming players back from injury as well as adding new signings. Connor Goldson and Odsonne Edouard in action Mohamed Elyounoussi, Jonny Hayes and Hatem Abd Elhamed have been key absentees in recent weeks while Jozo Simunovic and Daniel Arzani are long-term injury concerns.Striking the balance of adding one or two new faces while welcoming back a few more familiar ones could help Celtic regain momentum quickly when action resumes in the Scottish Cup on January 18.Alfredo Morelos’ Old Firm rollercoaster continuesIt is difficult to assess the Colombian’s afternoon in a few paragraphs – things are rarely quiet when Morelos lines up against Celtic. Alfredo Morelos was sent off for Rangers He nips away at the opposition all the time, but was also constantly fouled at Parkhead, with Christopher Jullien lucky not to be penalised for pulling his shirt in the box given Celtic were awarded a penalty for a similar incident and Ryan Christie was similarly fortunate not to be awarded a second yellow card for a rather more personal foul on him in the second half.Morelos should have scored five minutes after the break but blasted his effort over the bar from close range and needlessly got himself sent off for the second time in three games after looking for a penalty in stoppage time and that will be a concern for Rangers after the winter break. His barren run against Celtic in front of goal also continues. But, despite a lack of goals against Celtic, if he leaves Rangers, as expected in the summer, the Ibrox side will do well to find a replacement up front who influences these matches more. He occupies multiple players at once, creates space for others and constantly harasses defenders.He was at his brilliant harrying, pestering, rolling-defenders best on Sunday. Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer were in a battle from the first whistle. For around 95 minutes he delivered an excellent centre-forward display but his headlines will not be about that following the red card. Three Super 6 rounds in seven days! FREE TO PLAY: Do not miss your chance to land the £250,000 jackpot for the fifth time over the festive period.



Source link