By Southside Johnny
Updated Saturday, 29th March 2008
Rangers 1 (Thomson 44) Celtic 0Rangers took a massive step towards the League
Championship with a 1-0 win over Celtic at Ibrox this
afternoon, courtesy of a Kevin Thomson goal - his
first in Light Blue.
The victory leaves the Ibrox men six points clear of
their greatest rivals with a game in hand, although
with seven of their nine remaining games away from
home there is still a long, long way to go.
Manager Walter Smith made one change from the
Hibernian game with Steven Whittaker replacing Sasa
There was an unusual sight at the Broomloan Road End
prior to kick-off with Celtic fans offering spare
tickets aplenty. Clearly the self-styled 'greatest
fans in the world' had lost faith in their team.
Both sides made a cautious start although Lee
McCulloch came close with a header from a Barry
Ferguson free-kick in six minutes.
Sixty seconds later at the other end Shunsuke
Nakamura's thirty-yard free-kick was comfortably held
by Allan McGregor.
Georgios Samaras was next to test McGregor with a low
25-yard shot that the 'keeper was equal to in eighteen
minutes, then the Greek striker turned creator for
Scott Brown whose close-range effort was blocked three
Rangers were lacking in width, and Celtic were making
most of the running in these early stages - Steve
McManus being just wide with a header from a Nakamura
corner in 23 minutes.
The Ibrox men began to get the upper hand as the
interval approached - a Thomson corner in 41 minutes
finding Steve Davis whose header was headed off the
line by Paul Hartley, the ball quickly returned into
the danger zone where Barry Ferguson shot on the turn
only to be denied by Boruc.
The opening goal duly arrived on the stroke of
half-time - and it was a superbly created and
constructed goal with Thomson running at the Celtic
defence, playing a one-two wall-pass with Jean-Claude
Darcheville before stroking the ball home with his
The Light Blue legions were in fine voice at the
interval, drowning out the sectarian rebel songs
emanating from the Broomloan Road Stand.
Celtic restarted on the offensive, Jan Vennegoor of
Hesselink seeing his 48th minute header from a
Nakamura free-kick held by McGregor.
The save of the day came in 64 minutes when McGregor
at full stretch touched over a 25-yard piledriver from
Andreas Hinkel, the German having cut in from the
Referee Stuart Dougal had been dishing out yellow
cards all too frequently - but he bottled it when
McManus (already booked) blatantly body-checked
Darcheville sixty seconds later, then almost in the
same instant Lee Naylor, also on a yellow card,
chopped down Davis.
Both players should have received a second yellow and
subsequent red, bur Dougal, although awarding a foul
in each instant, chose to take no further action.
Nacho Novo replaced Darcheville midway through the
second-half, and seven minutes later Rangers lost the
services of the outstanding Kevin Thomson, stretchered
off after a scything tackle by Samaras that the
referee totally ignored. Artur Boruc, to his eternal
shame, was yellow-carded for abusing the midfielder as
he was carried off.
Charlie Adam substituted, and five minutes later
Steven Naismith replaced the injured Davis.
Rangers had outclassed their opponents throughout most
of the second-half, and Adam came close to sealing
victory in the dying seconds with an eighteen-yard
drive from Novo's crossfield pass.
It was Rangers' day with Carlos Cuellar, Kevin Thomson
and Barry Ferguson outstanding as the Light Blues
chalked up their fourth successive win over Celtic
without the loss of a solitary goal, and their
thirteenth consecutive League win, the club's best run
for 35 years.
Afterwards a contented Walter Smith summarised:
"I'm delighted with the win. We kept possession well
in the second-half, although creating few chances. It
was important to win today, but there's still a long
way to go with two visits to Celtic Park. We didn't
play particularly well in the first-half as Celtic
settled better. Our defence played well today."
RANGERS McGregor; Broadfoot, Weir, Cuellar, Whittaker;
Davis (Naismith 79), Ferguson, Dailly, Thomson (Adam
74), McCulloch; Darcheville (Novo 67)
UNUSED SUBS Alexander, Boyd, Furman, McMillan
CELTIC Boruc; Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor;
Nakamura, S. Brown, Hartley (Robson 80), McGeady;
Samaras, Vennegoor of Hesselink (McDonald 78)
UNUSED SUBS M. Brown, Wilson, Sno, Donati, O'Dea
REFEREE Stuart Dougal