STOP and searches carried out by police in Glasgow helped keep a lid on the powderkeg Old Firm showdown, the Evening Times can reveal.

Officers carried out almost 200 on-the-spot searches during the weekend in Glasgow city centre as they got tough on knife-carrying thugs.

Cops praised the behaviour of the "vast majority" of fans throughout the city, which saw one of the biggest security operations mounted for a football match.

As reported by the Evening Times, police warned of zero tolerance to violence, disorder and sectarianism.

Figures showed no spike in violence in the city centre at the weekend as police carried out 194 stop and searches.

A ring of steel will be thrown around Glasgow, with scores of extra officers drafted in for the match at Hampden, and a major police operation in the city centre.

Police said they had made 37 arrests on Sunday, including 12 for sectarian breaches of the peace.

Senior officers had feared rivalries could erupt on city centre streets and drafted in extra officers.

Chief Inspector Mark Sutherland, who is in charge of policing Glasgow city centre, said: "We have zero tolerance of sectarian behaviour, violence or disorder."

Police vowed to take a hard line with troublemakers ahead of the first Celtic v Rangers match in almost three years.

Sixteen men appeared at the court for a number of football related offences earlier this week.

Scott Lamont, was heard by police singing the words "Up to our knees in Fenian blood" on Cathcart Road on February 1.

The 24-year-old pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court and sentencing was deferred until next month.

Others that appeared in court included a coach at Morton football club, Jaymie Wiggins,18, from Port Glasgow.

He and Daniel Darroch, from Greenock appeared from custody charged with behaving in a way that is likely or would be likely to incite public disorder at Cathcart Road, on February 1, by shouting, swearing and making sectarian remarks.

They denied the charge and will stand trial in July for the alleged offence.

Others who appeared on alleged public disorder charges are Gary Boyd, 39, and Greig McColl, 39 from Drumchapel, Alexander Brisbane, 54, from Dennistoun, Callum Milligan, 19, from Derbyshire, Gary Reid, 21, from Clydebank and Stuart Stephen, 23, from Aberdeen.

Seven other men were released from custody without appearing at court.

All of the men who pled not guilty were released on bail and will stand trial in July.