A SECOND-HALF Filip Helander header secured a hard-fought 1-0 win for Rangers over Celtic at Ibrox today and stretched their unbeaten run in Old Firm games to seven.

Helander nodded home a Borna Barisic corner in the 67th minute of an evenly matched contest to ensure the Scottish champions triumphed by the narrowest of margins.

Ange Postecoglou was hoping the Parkhead club could extend their three match winning streak in the cinch Premiership and triumph in his first Glasgow derby – but his men failed to take advantage of their scoring chances and paid the price.

Steven Gerrard’s side, who last lost an Old Firm game in the League Cup final way back on December 8, 2019, moved three points ahead of their opponents at the top of the table.  

Rangers fielded a weakened starting line-up due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the squad earlier in the week.

Gerrard, who had missed the Europa League play-off game against Alashkert in Armenia on Thursday, was missing from the dugout once again.

Calvin Bassey, Allan McGregor, Jon McLaughlin, Nathan Patterson, James Tavernier and Scott Wright were all conspicuous by their absence.

Ryan Kent, who had not been involved in the 0-0 draw in Yerevan, returned on the wing. Kemar Roofe, too, made his comeback after sitting out the midweek outing due to a suspension.

Robby McCrorie retained his place in goals while centre half Leon Balogun came in at right back.

But Celtic had their own problems. Greg Taylor failed to recover from the shoulder injury he sustained against AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands on Thursday.

His place at left back was taken by new signing Josip Juranovic – but the Croatian’s preferred position is on the right of defence.

Elsewhere, James Forrest and James McCarthy were also not in the visitors’ squad.

McCrorie made his debut in the world-famous fixture while Liel Abada, Hart, Juranovic and Carl Starfelt made their bows.

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos volleyed over the Celtic crossbar in just the second minute after getting on the end of a Barisic cross from the left.

But Celtic, who have won plaudits for their attacking play in recent weeks, soon showed they threat they posed going forward.

Kyogo Furuhashi, the Japanese striker who Postecoglou deployed wide on the left, burst down his flank and squared into the Rangers six yard box.

Connor Goldson was unable to cut out the delivery, but there was nobody there to capitalise for the away side.

Furuhashi, who had netted seven times in eight appearances before today, had a chance to break the deadlock in the 20th minute when Balogun headed an Anthony Ralston cross to his feet.

The £4.6m signing, normally so deadly in the opposition area, volleyed high and wide.

Celtic were by no means dominating their hosts. Roofe had an opportunity net in the 25th minute when he brought down another Barisic cross.

But Stephen Welsh was alert to the danger and quickly slashed to safety.

Celtic went straight up the park and McCrorie did well to race off his line and clear the ball after David Turnbull had sent Odsonne Edouard in on the Rangers goal.

Ryan Christie, though, quickly fed Furuhashi out wide and the forward found Edouard with a pass. The Frenchman should have scored. But he fired well wide. It was a shocking miss.

In the 32nd minute Morelos did well to outmuscle Ralston, win possession and cut back to Kent just outside the Celtic penalty box.

The Englishman curled an attempt that flew beyond the outstretched Hart and struck the outside of the right post.  

Goldson failed to deal with a Furuhashi pass to Edouard in added on time at the end of the first-half and the striker was presented with a gilt-edged chance to put Celtic in front.

Goldson had his fellow centre back Helander to thank for keeping the score level. The Swede slid in and put the ball out for a corner.  

Whatever Rangers assistant manager Gary McAllister said to his players in the dressing room at half-time had the desired impact.

Goldson and his team mates quickly took control of the second-half. Kent forced a save from Hart and Roofe tried his luck from long-range.

They deserved to take the lead in the 67th minute. Helander outjumped his countryman Starfelt and got on the end of a Barisic corner. Hart got a hand to it, but was unable to keep the header out of his net.

Postecoglou quickly made a double substitution – he took off Edouard and Turnbull and put on Ismaila Soro and Tom Rogic respectively.

John Lundstram soon took over from Roofe, Fashio Sakala replaced Morelos and Scott Arfield came on for Kent.

Furuhashi had an opportunity to level with five minutes of regulation time remaining after being teed up by Rogic.

But McCrorie denied the striker, who really should have fed Christie inside him, brilliantly with an outstretched right leg.