THERE was much for Rangers to be satisfied about in the wake of the Old Firm match yesterday despite their inability to beat Celtic at Parkhead for the third consecutive occasion for the first time since way back in 1992.

For a start, Alfredo Morelos finally scored in the world-famous fixture at the 15th time of asking to silence those who have goaded him mercilessly over his Glasgow derby hoodoo during the past four seasons.

The fact it was the Colombian’s 55th league goal – the same number of Scottish titles that the Govan club have now lifted in their 149-year history  – just made the moment all the sweeter for him and he celebrated the moment accordingly. 

The striker’s opportunistic first-half effort ultimately earned Rangers a draw that kept alive their hopes of going the entire top flight season unbeaten and becoming “Invincibles”. That is a feat they last managed way back in 1899.

HeraldScotland:

Avoiding a defeat in an entertaining encounter their hosts dominated was an achievement of sorts too. 

Given that they were unable to field a specialist right back at kick-off, considering they had nothing but pride to play for having sewn up the Premiership a fortnight earlier and taking into account that emotions were still raw after the incendiary Europa League match against Slavia Prague on Thursday evening, it was a satisfactory afternoon in many respects. 

Yet, there was far, far more for their city rivals, whose 2020/21 campaign has been nothing short of a disaster both on and off the park, to be heartened by. Celtic bossed the 90 minutes and should have won and won comfortably. Only another exceptional display by Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor prevented them from recording a morale-boosting if meaningless triumph.

Their encouraging showing suggested the problems in the East End may not be as deep-rooted as many have suggested and indicated they might, even though several of their key performers look set to depart this summer, be better placed to challenge for the title next term than some of their supporters had feared.  

HeraldScotland:

There is clearly work to be done. They took the lead after a slick move in the 23rd minute. Odsonne Edouard outsprinted Leon Balogun, squared to Mohamed Elyounoussi and the winger buried a diving header beyond McGregor. But they failed to capitalise on the chances they carved out thereafter. That has been a recurring theme in their play in the past eight months.

They were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when they were leading 1-0. Referee Willie Collum booked Edouard for diving following a challenge by Borna Barisic. But contact was clearly made. Spot kicks are awarded for far less in the modern game. Celtic cannot, though, rely on favours from match officials to win games.  

Their fragility at set pieces, too, resurfaced in the 38th minute and, for the umpteenth time this term, cost them dear. Nobody dealt with a Barisic corner and Balogun rose unchallenged and nodded the ball on. Morelos pounced and headed beyond Scott Bain and into the roof of the net from a few yards out. 

HeraldScotland:

John Kennedy, the Celtic interim manager, vowed they would address their failings at the back and up front after the game. They will have to do both if they are to supplant opponents who have now gone 33 league games without being beaten and remain 20 points ahead of them in the table as the dominant force in the country.

Kennedy’s hopes of being appointed Celtic manager are slim. Fans are eager for a big name, an experienced coach, somebody with a proven track record at the highest level to come in and resurrect their fortunes. But if their directors are considering promoting from within then the former centre half will have done his prospects no harm.  

McGregor denied his namesake Callum, Edouard and Elyounoussi brilliantly in the opening 45 minutes and then Edouard and David Turnbull after half-time. It is little wonder the 39-year-old’s manager Steven Gerrard is so keen for him to sign a new contract and extend his stay beyond the summer. Where would his men have been without him yesterday?

HeraldScotland:

Bain saved from Morelos and Ryan Kent and then had an anxious moment at the death when an attempted clearance struck Stephen Welsh inside his own penalty box. Fortunately for the keeper, Kemar Roofe was unable to take advantage. It would have been an injustice if the substitute had pinched a winner and the three points. 

There was no guard of honour from Celtic for Rangers before kick-off. Applauding a team that has just won the league onto the park is a tradition in football. However, the home side had not been afforded that courtesy when they played at Ibrox after clinching the Premiership back in 2019 and they decided against it.  

Still, Celtic did show their solidarity with Rangers in the wake of the racism storm that erupted at the end of the Slavia game. The management teams, backroom staff and substitutes of both sides lined up on the touchline before proceedings commenced. On the park, the players stood in silence and declined to take the knee.

It was a touching and powerful gesture and a reminder that some things in life are far more important than the outcome of a game of football or a season in which 10-In-A-Row and a piece of Scottish football history have been up for grabs.

HeraldScotland: