Rangers managed to pick up a second draw from Celtic Park this year as they held the Scottish Premiership leaders to a 0-0 draw.
In truth, today’s performance was probably the best showing from Rangers in an Old Firm match since rejoining Scotland’s top flight.
It was a very strong team performance and they looked solid throughout the game.
In particular, it was in the defensive areas that The Gers looked at their best and they need to produce more displays like that in the future.
The back four played as a well drilled unit and that’s even after veteran defender Bruno Alves departed in the first half due to injury. His replacement, youngster David Bates, came in and didn’t look out of place.
Alongside a rejuvenated Danny Wilson, the centre-back duo made sure they limited Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths to very few chances. Wilson and Bates were strong in the tackle, blocked a lot of shots, good in the air and didn’t commit too many fouls.
When the Celtic forward line did breach the Gers defence, goalkeeper Wes Foderingham was there to give his best Andy Goram impression. His clawed save to prevent Dedryck Boyata scoring from a looping header was simply fantastic.
Declan John has been very impressive since he arrived from Cardiff City and he once again showed why it made sense to sign him up permanently this month. He’s very focused defensively and can get forward to help the attack when required. John did his bit in keeping a talented James Forrest quiet.
For me, that was James Tavernier’s best game as a Rangers player. The Englishman has always been good going forward but he’s often been criticised for his defensive contribution (or the lack of it!).
Yet today, right-back Tavernier was quick to nip in and nick the ball away from Scott Sinclair. He’d get the ball with inch perfect timing in the challenge and wasn’t caught out when he went forward.
He still bombed forward but he picked his moments perfectly and was still one of his side’s biggest assets in attacking areas. He had a chance and provided good crosses from wide areas.
For the first time since Brendan Rodgers has arrived at Celtic, the Gers midfield stood up to the challenge and weren’t overrun in the engine room.
It’s worth noting that Rangers tried to press further up the field in the second half and that’s when they were at their best and Celtic were at their worst.
It should also be said that Rangers didn’t park the bus at Parkhead. They managed to create good chances and made Craig Gordon work for his cleansheet.
The Hoops weren’t at their best but they still went for it and Rangers did well containing them for the most part.
Interim manager Graeme Murty deserves praise for getting big performances from his team in the bigger games, both Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha struggle in those important outings. It’s also not surprising that former Scotland international defender Murty has managed to get more from the defensive minded players in his squad.

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December 30, 2017

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