McGregor ensures Ibrox stalemate

McGregor had made saves from Daniel Majstorovic, Charlie Mulgrew

and Emilio Izaguirre before Celtic substitute Anthony Stokes, on

for Gary Hooper, won a spot-kick inside the final 10 minutes. The

Scotland number one dived to his left to save the Greece

international’s effort to keep second-placed Celtic a point behind

with a game in hand. The game took place against a background of

heightened security after a parcel bomb was recently sent to

Lennon. However, despite calls for calm, there was still a

deafening din inside Ibrox at kick-off time. Celtic had a penalty

claim in the seventh minute when Joe Ledley clashed with Ibrox

full-back Steven Whittaker in the box but referee Craig Thomson was

unimpressed, no less so than Lennon who turned to gesture in

frustration to the main stand. Moments later, Light Blues striker

Kyle Lafferty nearly got on the end of a pass from fellow Northern

Ireland international Steven Davis as Celtic keeper Fraser Forster

and Charlie Mulgrew almost got in to a tangle. Then, after Rangers’

on-form striker Nikica Jelavic had set him up with a chest pass,

Maurice Edu’s shot from the edge of the box got deflected past for

a corner which led to a spell of pressure which Celtic survived. In

the 18th minute, another orchestrated show of support for Lennon

from the away fans in the Broomloan Road stand came as Rangers

continued to press for the opener. After Samaras pushed Rangers

skipper David Weir to the ground inside the home side’s penalty

area, during an altercation which followed the Greece

international’s challenge on McGregor, both players were booked.

The champions edged possession but in the 26th minute, Hoops

skipper Scott Brown sent a left-footed drive from 25 yards past

McGregor’s left-hand post, moments before Steven Naismith’s

angled-volley from 12 yards missed the target at the other end. By

the time Celtic striker Hooper flashed a drive from the edge of the

box high over the bar, the visitors had come back into the game.

Two minutes into the second half, Weir headed over a Davis corner

before a Naismith volley from the edge of the box was deflected for

another corner which came to nothing. Rangers should have scored in

the 51st minute when Gregg Wylde’s cross from the left was met by

Lafferty but the lanky striker somehow headed past the post from

six yards. Seconds later, at the other end, Hoops midfielder Beram

Kayal drove inches wide from 20 yards. Ledley had to come off in

the 54th minute after being fouled by Naismith wide on the left and

was replaced by Kris Commons. The Light Blues’ defence struggled to

clear their lines following the resulting free-kick and needed

McGregor to make a great save from Majstorovic’s close-range header

to keep the game goalless. Kayal was booked in the 61st minute for

fouling Jelavic 30 yards from goal as the Rangers striker broke

with purpose after turning Majstorovic on the halfway line and

Lafferty fired the free-kick wide. As the tension increased,

Naismith had a left-footed effort from 20 yards which just sped

wide before a Mulgrew header from Commons’ corner forced another

save from McGregor. In the 75th minute, the Rangers keeper made yet

another great save, this time from Izaguirre’s shot after the Hoops

left-back combined well with Samaras inside the Light Blues’

penalty area. There was great drama in the 81st minute when Celtic

were awarded a contentious penalty when Celtic substitute Stokes

clashed with Davis inside the Rangers penalty area. Samaras, who

had scored a penalty in the 2-0 win at Ibrox at the start of the

year, saw his spot kick brilliantly saved by McGregor who dived to

his left to push the ball round the post. There was time for Stokes

to be booked for diving having gone to ground in the box after

going past Rangers substitute John Fleck.