Football: Celtic show the positive touch

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The Independent Online
Celtic . . .0

Rangers. . .0

CELTIC's desperate desire to catch up with Rangers, Scotland's dominant force, was partially assuaged before Britain's biggest crowd yesterday as 47,942 immensely vocal fanatics watched Liam Brady's side produce the more fluid and positive, if unrewarded, football. The spoils were shared, a result that allowed Motherwell to move to the top of the Premier Division, but it was the green and white hordes who left with the spring in their step.

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, was 'delighted with the draw' given his side's injury problems and he could take heart from the debut of Duncan Ferguson, at pounds 4m the most expensive player in the land. The 21-year-old international striker showed plentiful signs of his prodigious promise, doing well in the air and keeping Pat Bonner on his toes with two powerful long-range shots, both set up by nimble control which belied his gangling physique. Smith was pleased by the performance of his record signing, who has managed only 55 minutes of football since April, especially as 'it was a difficult game for anyone to come and play in'.

The brutal atmosphere of a packed Parkhead had an initial paralysing effect on the players' creativity, which surfaced mainly towards the end of the game when Celtic, their back line holding firm, poured forward from midfield.

Frank McAvennie, who formed an inventive front-line partnership with Charlie Nicholas, nearly broke the deadlock - and the bar - after 20 minutes when he forced Dariusz Wdowdczyk's left-wing cross on to Ally Maxwell's woodwork. Pat McGinlay had an even better chance minutes later but he wasted a good one-on-one situation by placing his shot too close to Maxwell.

Tempers were always tense, and Mike Galloway and Ian Ferguson were booked, but when the red mists lifted, Celtic always appeared the more likely to make the breakthrough. The Rangers rearguard would not budge, with Dave McPherson contributing some important last-ditch tackles.

After a third successive draw, Brady was looking on the bright side. 'We took the game to them,' he said. The new Brady-Joe Jordan partnership is beginning to pay dividends.

Celtic (4-3-3): P Bonner; T Boyd, D Wdowczyk, M McNally, M Galloway; P Grant, P McGinlay, P McStay; J Collins F McAvennie, (A Payton, 65 min), C Nicholas. Subs not used: B O'Neill, G Marshall (gk). Manager: L Brady.

Rangers (4-4-2): A Maxwell; S Pressley, F Wishart, R Gough, D McPherson; N Murray, T Steven, I Ferguson, P Huistra (I Durrant, 61 min); M Hateley, D Ferguson, (D Hagen, 83 min). Subs not used: C Scott (gk). Manager: W Smith.

Referee: D Hope (Erskine).