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).

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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea