Rangers cruise past depleted Celtic to move clear at top of Scottish Premiership

Rangers' Connor Goldson scores their second goal against the Celtics on Oct. 17, 2020. (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Rangers cruise past depleted Celtic to move clear at top of Scottish Premiership

  • Celtic were without star striker Odsonne Edouard, Nir Bitton and Hatem Elhamed due to Covid infections, while Ryan Christie missed out as he was forced to self-isolate

GLASGOW, Scotland: Rangers beat a coronavirus-depleted Celtic side 2-0 at Celtic Park on Saturday to move four points clear of their bitter rivals at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Two goals from Connor Goldson proved enough for Steven Gerrard’s men, who are desperate to stop their bitter rivals winning a record-breaking 10th consecutive title.
In the first Old Firm derby without fans, Goldson headed in James Tavernier’s free-kick in the ninth minute and tapped in from close range in the second half as Rangers recorded back-to-back wins at Celtic Park for the first time since 1995.
It was a first domestic defeat since the last clash between the Glasgow giants in December for Neil Lennon’s men, who have a game in hand over Rangers with a long title fight still to come.
Celtic were without star striker Odsonne Edouard, Nir Bitton and Hatem Elhamed due to Covid infections, while Ryan Christie missed out as he was forced to self-isolate for being a close contact of Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong, who also tested positive, while on international duty with Scotland.
But Gerrard said that took nothing away from a dominant performance by his side.
“We’ve put in a really controlled, professional performance,” Gerrard told Sky Sports. “I don’t think we were at our fluent best but we’ve come here and controlled the game with and without the ball.”
“We could maybe have scored more,” he added. “There will be no getting carried away. We need to remain humble.”
Rangers got the start they wanted when Goldson escaped his markers from Tavernier’s searching free-kick and flashed a header past goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas.
Mohamed Elyounoussi wasted a good chance to level for Celtic but the hosts failed to manage a shot on target for the first time since 2009 in a league match.
Lennon pointed to his lack of options with James Forrest also out injured, while Albian Ajeti and Leigh Griffiths were not match fit.
“We had Ajeti not fully fit, Griffiths not fully fit, Edouard out,” said Lennon. “That’s three mainline strikers not able to start.
“But I felt we created good enough chances first half to score. Rangers defended their box pretty well today and that was the difference in terms of the psychology of the goals.
“We were pretty decimated with the Covid and the injuries but I felt we had a strong enough team out.”
Earlier, the Scottish league said it would investigate after St. Mirren’s latest positive virus test led to the postponement of their clash with Motherwell.
Two players had already tested positive earlier this week, with a third forced into self-isolation.
A further positive test saw more players instructed to go into self-isolation and the club told the Scottish Professional Football League that they could not fulfil their Premiership fixture.


Valtteri Bottas on pole at Imola with Lewis Hamilton alongside

Updated 31 October 2020

Valtteri Bottas on pole at Imola with Lewis Hamilton alongside

  • Bottas pips Hamilton to pole at Imola as Mercedes lock out front row
  • Champions can clinch seventh constructors' title in a row

IMOLA: Valtteri Bottas powered to pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on Saturday with the Finn's team mate and Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton locking out the front row for dominant Mercedes.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen qualified third, after a power unit scare in the second phase sent mechanics scrambling to fix his car, with AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly a stunning fourth on the grid.
Mercedes need only a fourth place finish in Sunday's race to secure a record seventh successive constructors' world championship.
The pole, with a time of one minute 13.609 seconds, was a 13th in 13 races this season for the champions.
Sunday's race will be the first grand prix at Imola since 2006, with the track returning to flesh out a calendar ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the third in Italy this season.
"This track, when you push flat out, it's beautiful. I knew I had to improve in the last lap and I found those small gains that were needed," said Bottas, who was 0.097 quicker than Hamilton.
"It's a great feeling when you get those.
"It's going to be a good fight. It's one of the longest runs in the calendar into Turn One so no doubt Lewis and Max will be chasing me, but it's a good place to start and hopefully the pace is good."
Hamilton leads Bottas by 77 points, having won eight times so far this season, and is closing on a record-equalling seventh drivers' title although he will have to wait at least until Turkey in two weeks' time for a chance to clinch it.
"Valtteri did a great job. It was a pretty poor lap from myself. These things happen, you can't always get it perfect," said Hamilton, who had been quickest after the first flying laps in phase three.