Celtic 2 Rangers 0

McLeish left on the brink by Maloney thunderbolt

Certainly, McLeish's sombre mood and flat body language in the post-match press conference suggested he realises his time could soon be up.

Asked how much longer Rangers can afford such poor results before a possible sacking, the manager replied: "We can't afford not to get results."

McLeish insisted, however, that if the decision is left to him, he will fight for his job. "I'm going to take a planned break for a couple of days now and as far as I'm concerned I'm then going to be planning for the game in 10 days' time," he said.

That game is again against Celtic, at Celtic Park, but in the Scottish Premier League, where Rangers trail the leaders by 12 points. There did not seem to be a whole lot of confidence among McLeish's players that he will definitely still be in charge. "Results matter," said Barry Ferguson, the Rangers captain "and we've not been getting the results for him."

Strachan, an old pal of McLeish, was delighted with the win but refused to talk about McLeish's situation. Celtic now face a semi-final on 1 February against Livingston, Motherwell or Dunfermline, who all reached the last four on Tuesday.

When Rangers beat Motherwell in last season's CIS final to secure McLeish's sixth trophy at Ibrox, and then added the SPL title on the final day for seven, few if any fans can have envisaged things going so badly awry this season. But then Strachan's new-look Celtic side were not expected to gel so quickly.

From the start it seemed likely that either Maloney or his equally speedy team-mate, Aiden McGeady, on Celtic's left flank, would be the man to slice Rangers open, and so it proved.

Maloney opened the scoring on 26 minutes. With a feigned jink in the direction of Sotirios Kyrgiakos, he wrong-footed the defender and appeared briefly to consider running the ball into the box. Instead he simply unleashed a stunning 25-yard shot that had the crowd out their seats and gasping even before it billowed the net.

Rangers huffed and puffed, but their passing was poor, they created little and capitalised on nothing. They had one shot on target all night.

When Kyrgiakos was sent off for a second bookable offence with 24 minutes left, Rangers' "challenge" was finished. Celtic made it 2-0 when Shunsuke Nakamura's cross bamboozled keeper Stefan Klos, who was being pressured by Bobo Baldé, and was bundled into his own net.

Celtic (4-1-3-2): Boruc; Telfer, Baldé, McManus, Camara; Lennon; Nakamura, Petrov, McGeady (Varga, 77); Hartson, Maloney. Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Thompson, Virgo, Pearson.

Rangers (4-4-2): Klos; Hutton, Rodriguez (Pierre-Fanfan, 79), Kyrgiakos, Bernard (Lovenkrands, h-t); Namouchi, Ricksen, Ferguson, Murray; Prso, Thompson (Jeffers, 56). Substitutes not used: Waterreus (gk), A Rae.

Referee: K Clark.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there