Celtic 2 Rangers 1: Vennegoor of Hesselink leaves it late to revive Celtic's title challenge

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink's dramatic injury-time winner at Celtic Park last night breathed fresh life into the SPL title race just as it seemed inevitable that 10-man Rangers were leaving with a point and with the silverware virtually guaranteed. The Dutchman can rarely have scored a more valuable goal, or one in a more acrimonious atmosphere. Not only did the match finish with scuffles between players but the Rangers doctor had been hit by a coin earlier when treating goalkeeper Alan McGregor.

Rangers remain one point clear with two games in hand but Celtic must now feel they have a prayer, however small, not least because they must host Rangers again in ten days time.

This was the first Old Firm match in the SPL to be played in the evening for eight years but it was more than the floodlights that gave this a frenzied feel.

The intensity of the occasion was obvious in the first minute when Barry Robson clattered into Rangers' Christian Dailly and the latter reacted furiously. The first chance came shortly afterwards and fell to Celtic when Aiden McGeady crossed and the ball was shielded away.

Rangers, playing with a loan striker in the form of Jean-Claude Darcheville broke twice shortly afterwards. First Darcheville fell in possession on the right wing and then moments later he was dispossessed in the area by Paul Hartley.

Shunsuke Nakamura gave a glimpse of his ability with a delightful cutting ball to Vennegoor of Hesselink. McGregor dived at the Dutchman's feet to thwart him.

Celtic went ahead after 20 minutes through a few moments of brilliance by Nakamura. He collected the ball 30 yards out, took a few paces forward and unleashed a screamer of a left-foot drive which gave the hosts the half-time advantage.

Nacho Novo came on for Rangers as a half-time substitute, replacing Kirk Broadfoot, whose right-back berth was filled by Steven Whittaker. It took all of 10 minutes for Novo's introduction to pay dividends. Whittaker's pass set him free into the right edge of Celtic's area and the Spaniard's low diagonal shot gave the visitors parity.

The game took some extraordinary twists, and not just those of umpteen players' legs as tempers boiled over. With 20 minutes left Nakamura's shot had beaten McGregor and Carlos Cuellar saved on the line with his hands. That meant a red card and a penalty. Scott McDonald took it. McGregor, limping due to a leg injury, saved. Within 10 minutes McGregor had to be substituted as Celtic pressed for a winner, which Vennegoor of Hesselink supplied in a tumultuous finale.

Celtic (4-4-2): Boruc; Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor (Wilson, h-t); Nakamura, Hartley, Robson (Samaras, 74), McGeady; Vennegoor of Hesselink, McDonald. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), McGowan, Sno, Donati, Balde.

Rangers (4-1-4-1): McGregor (Alexander, 77); Broadfoot (Novo, h-t), Cuellar, Weir, Papac; Dailly; Whittaker, Ferguson, Davis, McCulloch; Darcheville (Cousin, 83). Substitutes not used: Boyd, Naismith, Surman, McMillan.

Referee: K Clark (Scotland).

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices