Lennon finds vindication as Celtic hit the top

Celtic 1 Rangers 0

Celtic Park

What glory there was, on a night that was often frantic and merciless, belonged to Celtic. They had to establish their doggedness, but once they turned to being enterprising they exposed Rangers' shortcomings.

The home side found their reward in moving to the top of the Scottish Premier League, but the more significant blow might be in confirming their rising authority while their oldest rivals continue a period of alarming form.

Rangers were 15 points ahead in the title race last month, albeit while Celtic had two games in hand, but now they are left only with a bitter sense of regret. They were overcome here on a windswept occasion, and although the visitors could rue the fact that the match officials failed to see that Lee Wallace's header had crossed the line early in the game, Rangers could muster only the most paltry resistance once Celtic had taken the lead. It was the inadequacies of the Ibrox side that were exposed.

"I've seen it and it's definitely crossed the line," said Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager. "Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't. We have to take it on the chin. At half-time I told the boys, 'you can't afford to drop any level of concentration', but we did that and it cost us the game. We switched off and found ourselves a goal behind."

Both managers sought to be bold, trying to force the encounter to bend to their will. Rangers' early adventure was almost justified when Wallace met Sone Aluko's cross with a header at the back post and Fraser Forster, the Celtic goalkeeper, clawed it away. No Rangers players appealed for a goal, but television pictures suggested the ball crossed the line.

"It wasn't a goal," said a deadpan Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager. He could be arch because his team grew in stature, and their resilient nature allowed them to eventually establish themselves as the more dominant side. In James Forrest, Georgios Samaras and Victor Wanyama, they possessed the game's prominent individuals, and there was an expectation that Rangers' nerve would falter after their recent poor run of results.

A culprit is often singled out, and Kirk Broadfoot carried a hapless air. Deputising for the injured Steven Whittaker, the full-back was forever troubled by Forrest's quick feet, and early in the second half the Celtic winger left him looking aghast before hitting a shot that McGregor tipped over. From Charlie Mulgrew's resulting corner, Joe Ledley rose above Broadfoot to head the ball into the net, and Celtic were closing in on their ninth consecutive league win.

"I thought we were in the ascendancy, without being brilliant," Lennon said. "I knew we had it in us to go on a run like this. I can't ask any more of the players, they've been brilliant." McCoist also had to deal with reports that Queen's Park Rangers have submitted a written bid for Nikica Jelavic, the Croatian centre-forward. "It's news to me," he said wearily, "but I still think this squad is good enough to retain the title."

Celtic (4-4-2): Forster; Matthews, Rogne, Mulgrew, Ledley; Brown, Kayal (Ki, 77), Wanyama, Forrest; Samaras, Hooper (Stokes, 86). Substitutes not used Zaluska (gk), Wilson, Cha, McCourt, Bangura.

Rangers (4-4-2): McGregor; Broadfoot, Bartley, Bocanegra, Papac; Aluko (Wylde, 66), Davis, McCulloch (Edu, 79), Wallace (Healy, 79); Jelavic, Lafferty. Substitutes not used Alexander (gk), Weir, Fleck, Wylde, Bendiksen.

Referee W Collum (Glasgow).

Sandaza lifts Saints

With Motherwell's game against Dunfermline postponed due to wind damage at Fir Park, St Johnstone closed the gap on third place in the SPL to two points thanks to a 2-0 home win over Kilmarnock, Francisco Sandaza getting both goals. A glaring miss from Aberdeen's Rory Fallon allowed Hearts to escape from Pittodrie with a 0-0 draw, while struggling Hibernian were held 1-1 at home by Inverness.

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
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
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
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
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
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
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 my 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
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
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel