Rangers 3, Celtic 0: Novo stakes claim for Spanish showdown

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The Independent Football

Nacho Novo scored twice against Celtic on Saturday to send Rangers joint top of the Premier League with their Old Firm rivals. But the Spanish striker, 28, admits he has no idea whether he has done enough to guarantee a place in tomorrow's Champions League game against Barcelona.

"My confidence is high and it would mean a lot for me to play against Barcelona but who knows?" he said. "We just have to wait and see. They are a big team, a Spanish team too so it would be special. Every single player would love to play in that game."

Novo opened the scoring with a diving header, before captain Barry Ferguson stunned Celtic by bagging his first Old Firm goal in five years. Charlie Adam then won a penalty and it was Novo who snatched the ball before lashing home from 12 yards to claim his second of the day.

He eventually left the park to a standing ovation and confessed he was shocked to make Walter Smith's starting XI. "I just had to work hard and wait for my chance," he said. "I wasn't even on the bench for the last few weeks and that is hard but you have to think of the team as well.

"The gaffer is doing a great job. It's difficult to keep everyone happy because we have a massive squad. You just have to look forward and work hard to have the chance to get in the team." Novo's current deal expires at the end of the season but he insists his legendary work-rate and desire to impress is down to a love of Rangers rather than an attempt to secure a new contract.

"Maybe some people think I am trying to do well so that I can win a new contract but that doesn't bother me," he said. "Six years ago, I came here and played in the First Division. Now I am at Rangers and I have gone from playing in the First Division to playing in the Champions League.

"I love scoring goals for this beautiful club. If they want me to stay, I'm happy to do that, I'd love to stay. But I'm playing for the jersey, not for new contracts."

Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan refused to use injuries as an excuse for the capitulation at Ibrox. The Celtic manager was already without several first-team players before losing his captain Stephen McManus just before half-time following a sickening clash of heads.

"That's not what I'm looking at," said Strachan. "It would be easy for me to do that and a get-out for the players. What I was looking at was how people handled a crisis and we got beat 3-0 so that tells you how we handled it."

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