All square at Parkhead

Last updated : 03 January 2010 By Southside Johnny
Celtic 1 (McDonald 78) Rangers 1 (McCulloch 80)

Attendance 58,300

Rangers remain seven points clear of Celtic following today's 1-1 draw in the traditional 'Old Firm' Ne'erday fixture this afternoon, a late Lee McCulloch goal securing a priceless draw.

On a bitterly cold day, an Ibrox eleven ravaged by injury, illness, suspension and international calls made two further changes from Wednesday with Danny Wilson and Steven Whittaker replacing Madjid Bougherra and Kenny Miller against a Parkhead side at its' strongest.

The game had hardly got underway before Rangers suffered yet another injury blow in twelve minutes when Nacho Novo limped off following a late tackle from Georgis Samaras. It perhaps merited a straight fed card for the Greek striker, but the referee was of course Steve Conroy so it was no surprise that the Celt got off scot-free.

Maurice Edu was introduced to the fray, as the Ibrox men reshuffled their threadbare team.

Six minutes later Marc-Antoine Fortune bundled both Allan McGregor and the ball into the net from a McGeady chip. It was a clear foul, but incredibly the referee appeared to be about to award a goal until the infringement was indicated by linesman Alan Cunningham.

Celtic were making the running - and Barry Robson's volley from a Fortune head-flick in 28 minutes was just over.

Sixty seconds later the first yellow card of the game duly arrived when Kyle Lafferty was booked for a foul on Andreas Hinkel. Steve Conroy could hardly wait to produce a card which was perhaps justified - but the tackle was certainly no worse than that of Fortune's.

Danny Fox almost opened the scoring in 32 minutes when his twenty-yard free-kick was held by McGregor at the second attempt.

Three minutes later McGregor was beaten by Robson's glancing header from a Hinkel cross only for the ball to come back off the crossbar.

The home side were reaping the benefit of a serious of dubious free-kick awards, all of course at the behest of Steve Conroy.

Hinkel was a constant danger down the right, and from another cross in forty minutes McGeady somehow headed wide of goal.

Two minutes later Samaras missed an even better chance when he worked his way through only to shoot wide.

McGeady spurned two further opportunities in the opening minutes of the second-half, firstly shooting wide following a Samaras break, then skying his effort over following an Edu error.

Rangers finally threatened on the hour when Sasa Papac's hanging cross was touched over by the floundering Boruc.

Celtic still looked the likelier to make the breakthrough however - five minutes later Robson's 22-yard free-kick was just wide then shortly thereafter McGregor denied Samaras following the Greek's run and shot from the edge of the box.

Scott McDonald substituted for Marc Crosas in seventy minutes - and the Aussie was soon involved when his shot from a Fortune knockdown was held by McGregor three minutes later.

The deadlock was finally broken in 78 minutes when McDonald got in front of Wilson to head home from a McGeady cross.

There appeared to be no way back for the Light Blues, yet within two minutes the scores were level when Lee McCulloch bulleted home a header from a Steve Davis corner.

Celtic had one last effort when Samaras' angled twenty-yard drive produced a superb one-handed save from McGregor in 84 minutes.

The game finished level and for Rangers the outstanding David Weir had been quite immense at the centre of a hard-pressed defence.

Afterwards Manager Walter Smith was honest enough to admit:

"The result was satisfying for us, the performance wasn't. We can't say that we deserved a draw. Celtic played very well. Allan McGregor only had one save to make, although it was magnificent. Celtic contrived to miss their other chances."

CELTIC Boruc; Hinkel, Caldwell, Loovens, Fox; Robson, Crosas (McDonald 70), N'Guemo, McGeady; Samaras, Fortune
UNUSED SUBS McManus, McGinn, Thompson, Zaluska, Zhi, Caddis

RANGERS McGregor; Broadfoot, Weir, Wilson, Papac; Novo (Edu 12), Davis, McCulloch, Whittaker; Boyd, Lafferty
UNUSED SUBS Alexander, Smith, Fleck, Ness, Little, Wylde

REFEREE Steve Conroy