Celtic 0 Rangers 0: Waterreus keeps Rangers in hunt for Champions' League place

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The race for the Scottish Premier League runners-up spot, and a potential £10m windfall from next season's Champions' League, remains a meaningful contest after third-placed Rangers yesterday emerged from the last Old Firm match of the season with a draw against the champions Celtic to close the gap on second-placed Hearts to four points.

Hearts blew their own chance to widen their advantage on Saturday when they lost the Edinburgh derby 2-1 to Hibernian.

Rangers may yet rue the golden opportunity for a win that was squandered early in the second half when Chris Burke blasted over the bar from 10 yards - but they themselves would have conceded twice to Shaun Maloney without fine saves from Ronald Waterreus.

Also, although with three games remaining Hearts have their destiny in their own hands, the upcoming fixtures provide Rangers with a good opportunity to apply some pressure.

Their next game is on Saturday, at Kilmarnock, where they will be favourites to win and close to within a point of Hearts, who then host Celtic on Sunday.

Maloney was the most creative player in yesterday's opening half, dispossessing Brahim Hemdani and embarking on a mazy run that eventually won a free-kick on the edge of the box. His curling shot was heading just inside the right post when Waterreus tipped the ball to safety. It was the best chance in a Celtic-dominated half, aside from a Kris Boyd "goal" that was ruled marginally - but correctly - offside.

Rangers shot out of the traps after the interval, with Dado Prso first setting up Burke, who fluffed his lines, and then doing well to power a header towards the top left-hand corner only to be denied by a superb one-handed save by Artur Boruc. Waterreus then saved again from Maloney and from Shunsuke Nakamura.

The Rangers manager, Alex McLeish, for whom the game was his last Old Firm encounter before his summer departure, said: "I asked for a performance today - regardless of the result - and we got that. We will only know if the point is good enough at the end of the season."

Rangers will host Hearts in McLeish's final game on 7 May.

Celtic (4-4-2): Boruc; Telfer, Varga, McManus, Wilson; Petrov, Keane (Nakamura, 61), Lennon, Maloney (McGeady, 81); Zurawski, Hartson (Dublin, 84). Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Thompson, Pearson, Wallace.

Rangers (4-4-1-1): Waterreus; Hutton, Rodriguez, Kyrgiakos, Smith; Burke (Ashikodi, 90), G Rae, Hemdani, Prso; Buffel; Boyd (Novo, 70). Substitutes not used: Klos (gk), Andrews, A Rae, Malcolm.

Referee: C Thomson (Scotland).

Booked: Celtic Lennon, McManus; Rangers: Kyrgiakos, Novo.

Man of the match: Prso.

Attendance: 59,684.