Rangers 3 (Arteta 5, De Boer 53, Arveladze 75)
Heroic Rangers remain League leaders following a thrilling 3-3 draw at Celtic Park this afternoon.
With the odds stacked against them following Thursday's draining two-hour marathon against Viktoria Zizkov, the Ibrox men survived the hate and hostility
that is Parkhead to gain a psychological advantage for the long campaign ahead.
There was just the one change from the UEFA Cup line-up with Bert Konterman replaced by Maurice Ross. Not surprisingly Kevin Muscat - a substitute against
the Czechs - dropping out altogether.
The Light Blues were in command in the opening twenty minutes, playing some superb possession football against their more physical opponents.
Celtic attempted to claw their way back into the game by winning a serious of free-kicks in dangerous areas as only they can - with Henrik Larsson and Stilian Petrov diving at every opportunity, and Chris Sutton backing into defenders. Stefan Klos however was equal to the task, holding two Larsson free-kicks comfortably, and then at the second attempt saving Momo Sylla's close-range effort after a Petrov free-kick was blocked.
There was an ugly incident in 23 minutes when Ronald De Boer legitimately challenged Bobo Balde for the ball, only for the defender to grab him by the throat. Referee Stuart Dougal meted out justice evenly by showing both players a yellow card.
Rangers were tiring as the half went on, no doubt due to the European exertions, and as the more physical Celtic increased their pressure the equaliser seemed inevitable.
So it proved - with Larsson's volley on the turn from a Sylla cross leaving Klos helpless to level matters at 1-1 in 38 minutes. It was a great piece of skill by
the Swede, leaving all football lovers to regret his obsession with simulation that so envelopes his game.
Amidst rumours of a tunnel disagreement between Craig Moore and Fernando Ricksen at the interval, Rangers restarted with Bert Konterman replacing 'OZ', and within four minutes the 'Gers suffered another injury blow when Peter Lovenkrands, so deadly against Celtic last season, was replaced by Neil McCann.
The wheel seemed to be turning in Celtic's favour - even more so in 52 minutes when Larsson headed an Alan Thompson corner home to give Celtic the lead.
It was very much end-to-end now. In 56 minutes Klos denied Larsson his hat-trick with a superb point-blank save from a Sylla cross, then three minutes later Arteta's volley from a Ross cross was inches wide.
Celtic continued their shameful attempts to hoodwink the referee into awarding them free-kicks in dangerous positions. Larsson yet again succeeded in simulating - or cheating - the award of a free-kick in 65 minutes that saw Alan Thompson strike the junction of post and crossbar from some 23 yards.
Rangers however were playing all the football - and following one flowing move in 72 minutes a Ricksen pass found Arveladze whose low left-foot drive was
parried by Douglas.
Rangers were within sight of a famous victory against the odds, but the Ibrox defence was badly missing the injured Craig Moore, and his absence told in 78 minutes when Sutton scrambled the ball home following a Thompson free-kick.
Nevertheless a 3-3 draw left Rangers the moral victors after an engrossing clash, and more importantly still on top of the League.
CELTIC Douglas; Valgaeren, Balde, Laursen; Sylla (Agathe 58), Lambert (Maloney 77), Petrov (Hartson 74), Lennon, Thompson; Larsson, Sutton
UNUSED SUBS Gould, Crainey
RANGERS Klos; Ross, Moore (Konterman 45), Amoruso, Numan; Ricksen, Ferguson, De Boer (Caniggia 83), Arteta; Arveladze, Lovenkrands (McCann 49)
UNUSED SUBS McGregor, Latapy
REFEREE Stuart Dougal