RANGERS were bookmakers’ favourites to win their first meeting of the season with Celtic at Ibrox having won both of their home games against their city rivals last season, strengthened considerably in the summer and shown good form in recent weeks.

But Steven Gerrard’s team was, despite having the vast majority of the 49,873-strong crowd cheering them on, well beaten by Neil Lennon’s side. A first-half Odsonne Edouard goal and a late Jonny Hayes strike sealed their fate. So where did they go wrong? And what did their opponents get right? Here are seven things we learned from events in Govan.


The Rangers manager accepted his side had lacked width in the first-half of their meeting with Celtic afterwards. But he pointed out that even when Sheyi Ojo and Jordan Jones were on the park in the second-half they had still failed to trouble their rivals. And he also stressed that they had won two Glasgow derby games last season playing narrow.

But starting central midfielder Joe Aribo out of position on the left and picking Scott Arfield to play on the right were bad calls. The visitors fielded two full-backs who were making their debuts in the fixture and whose defensive displays in recent weeks have often been disappointing. This game was crying out for the home side to put Boli Bolingoli and Hatem Elhamed under pressure.

Elhamed, though, got the better of Aribo, who was ineffectual in his new role, and Bolingoli wasn’t tested by Arfield or James Tavernier. Gerrard acted at half-time by taking Glen Kamara off, putting Ojo on, pulling Aribo back and then throwing on Jones. His side performed slightly better as a result. But they were unable to claw their way back into the game.

Was going with Jermain Defoe up front instead of Alfredo Morelos the right decision? The ovation the Colombian received when he replaced his English team mate showed who the Rangers fans would have preferred. Morelos would have given them more of a cutting edge in attack.

Gerrard was certainly let down by key players, not least his centre half Connor Goldson who gave away the first goal, but he has to take much of the responsibility for this damaging reverse himself.


Lennon, his Celtic side and the Parkhead board have all been subjected to scathing criticism by fans, pundits and the media in the opening weeks of the 2019/20 season. They have been accused of being tactically naïve, of not being good enough to represent the Glasgow club and, in the case of the directors, of being asleep at the wheel with a record-equalling ninth consecutive Scottish title on the line.

They responded in the best way possible to the considerable flak that has flown in their direction – by romping to an impressive and richly-deserved triumph over their nearest challengers and greatest adversaries.

The treble treble winners were excellent in every area of the park. The margin of victory could have been greater had Allan McGregor produced two instinctive second-half saves. This result was massive psychologically for them. They will only get stronger as players return and new acquisitions arrive. Their doubters will think twice before dismissing them in future.


The fact that Rangers didn’t have a natural wide player on the right flank certainly worked in the Celtic left back’s favour. But the much-maligned Belgian defender, who was so poor defensively in the Champions League qualifier against CFR Cluj away last month he was dropped for the home game, silenced many of his detractors with his personal display.

He was excellent in the air, embraced the physicality of the fixture fully, passed the ball well and overlapped to devastating effect. Kilmarnock and Scotland player Greg Taylor is set to arrive imminently. But he won’t be guaranteed a start if Bolingoli continues to perform like this.


Being without Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic, who started the season as the first-choice centre back partnership, was far from ideal for Celtic. Nir Bitton was once again asked to play out of position at the back. And Christopher Jullien was making his first appearance against Rangers. But the former excelled before limping off injured in the second-half. And the latter was absolutely immense.

Rangers resorted to shelling high balls into the Celtic penalty box as they pushed for an equaliser. Jullien dealt with everything they threw at him. He also made some important tackles. His commanding showing augurs well for the remainder of the campaign. When Ajer recovers from the groin strain that ruled him out yesterday and Simunovic regains full fitness Lennon will have a hard job leaving one of them out.


The Celtic midfielder and captain has always flourished in the white-hot atmosphere of the Old Firm game. But could he, at the grand old age of 34, cope with the match just a few days after a draining European tie against AIK in Sweden? Was Olivier Ntcham a better shout to partner Callum McGregor in the centre of the park? Brown had much to prove when hostilities commenced. He rose to the occasion once again. He could still be playing when he's 40.


McGregor was lucky not to be yellow carded for a high tackle on Arfield early on and Ryan Jack was also fortunate not to have his name taken after leaving Bolingoli writhing in agony on the turf with a rash challenge for a 50-50 ball. But match official Madden handled proceedings sensibly throughout and underlined why he had once again been handed responsibility for overseeing the game.


The Northern Ireland internationalist has been one of Gerrard’s best summer signings to date. But he let himself down badly by petulantly scything down Moritz Bauer in the sixth minute of injury-time. He could have no complaints about being ordered off. He will have to show better discipline in future.