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Clint Hill proves Rangers' last action hero

Celtic 1 Rangers 1

By Ronnie Esplin

Rangers gave new boss Pedro Caixinha a boost after a late Clint Hill goal earned the Light Blues a 1-1 Ladbrokes Premiership draw with Old Firm rivals Celtic at Parkhead.

The Portuguese coach, who agreed a three-year deal on Saturday, watched from the stand and he saw Martyn Waghorn miss a great chance for the Ibrox men before midfielder Stuart Armstrong put the home side in front in the 35th minute with a fine strike.

Brendan Rodgers' men had started to get into their stride just before the break and they dominated most of the second half, which offered little in the way of clear-cut chances until the 88th minute. That was when Rangers finally found a breakthrough as Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon parried a drive from Emerson Hyndman allowing veteran defender Hill to slam home from close range.

It was only Celtic's second draw in 28 league games, taking them 25 points clear of second-placed Aberdeen and 33 clear of Rangers.

Caixinha, 46, who joins Rangers from Al Gharafa in Qatar, will have noted his new side's battling qualities but should not be fooled as there remains a tangible gap in quality between the two squads.

There was plenty of confidence among the home support as fit-again winger James Forrest returned for the noon kick-off, with Gary Mackay-Steven dropping out.

Under-20s coach Graeme Murty was in charge of Rangers again and he had to do without the suspended defender Rob Kiernan and had striker Joe Garner suspended.

Murty made two changes with Lee Hodson and Danny Wilson back into the defence which was put under no real pressure in the opening stages.

In the 18th minute a slip by defender Hill allowed Hoops striker Moussa Dembele in but he failed to connect with his shot, allowing goalkeeper Wes Foderingham to gather.

Celtic were strangely tentative and had Gordon to thank in the 24th minute when stopper Dedryck Boyata missed a Kenny Miller flick-on which sent Waghorn clean through.

The Gers striker had time and space to pick his spot but the Scotland number one blocked the drive with his left foot and the Hoops escaped.

Celtic stepped up the pace and on the half-hour mark, after Hill had fouled Forrest 25 yards from goal, Foderingham dived low to his right to tip Armstrong's free-kick on to the post and out for a corner, which the visitors survived.

However, the Light Blues goalkeeper could only flail in the 35th minute when, after Gers midfielder Jason Holt failed to clear his lines, Armstrong took a pass from Forrest at the edge of the box and lashed a left-footed drive low into the corner.

Midfielder Callum McGregor replaced Nir Bitton for the start of the second half as Celtic pressed for a second with Foderingham saving an angled drive from Armstrong before an even better save from the excellent midfielder.

Gordon again thwarted Waghorn at the other end after a good cross on the run by Miller before Armstrong made way for Leigh Griffiths.

Holt curled a shot past the far post in the 81st minute before being immediately replaced by Harry Forrester, with Michael O'Halloran on for Waghorn as the visitors pushed in the final stages for a leveller.

Dembele sliced a shot wide after turning Wilson, but there was drama at the other end when Hill equalised. In a frantic finale, a late penalty claim for a last-gasp tackle by Hill on Griffiths was waved away by referee Bobby Madden.

 

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney, Bitton, (McGregor, 46 mins) Brown, Armstrong (Griffiths, 73 mins), Forrest (Roberts, 69 mins), Sinclair, Dembele. Unused subs: De Vries, Simunovic, Gamboa, Kouassi.

RANGERS: Foderingham, Hodson, Hill, Wilson, Wallace, Tavernier, Holt, Hyndman, McKay (Windass, 59 mins), Waghorn (O'Halloran, 84 mins), Miller. Unused subs: Alnwick, Dodoo, Senderos, Bates.

Man of the Match: Scott Brown

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Bobby Madden

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