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Follow Mail Sport’s live blog for the latest score, team news and updates from the second Old Firm Derby in the league this season as Celtic host Rangers at Celtic Park.
Celtic 0-0 Rangers
Old Firm specialist Kyogo Furuhashi looking sharp there as he breached the Rangers back line and fires in a shot from a tight angle that Jack Butland has to nudge behind.
Rangers manage to get the corner cleared away but that’s encouraging for Celtic. Kyogo certainly had the measure of Goldson there.
Celtic 0-0 Rangers
Connor Goldson with an excellent quarterback’s pass from deep searching for the advanced Tavernier. He reaches it but his cross is miscued and flies behind.
Celtic 0-0 Rangers
Ear-splitting whistles from the crowd as Rangers enjoy their first spell of possession after Todd Cantwell was fouled.
Dujon Sterling is bundled out of bounds by Callum McGregor, who certainly wanted to make his presence felt early on.
It gives James Tavernier the chance to swing in a free-kick but it’s cleared easily.
We’re underway at Celtic Park
Scarves raised for You’ll Never Walk Alone and Celtic Park is a sea of green and white.
It may be chilly in Glasgow but this atmosphere is white hot.
Celtic assemble into their traditional pre-match huddle. They’re in green and white hoops, Rangers in blue and white as you’d expect.
The home side get us off and running in the Old Firm.
Here come the teams!
A pre-match light show at Celtic Park just to get the fans even more in the mood.
It’s time for the talking to stop and a crucial Old Firm derby to get underway as the two teams emerge into a superb atmosphere as you’d fully expect.
And it’s safe to say the season of goodwill is officially over!
The atmosphere is building inside Celtic Park
They were locked out for a few games but Celtic’s Green Brigade are back inside the stadium and making themselves heard today.
With no away fans inside Parkhead, it’ll be a cauldron of green and white this afternoon.
A reminder of the two teams with just 10 minutes until kick-off
Celtic: Hart, Alistair Johnston, Welsh, Scales, Taylor, O’Riley, McGregor, Bernardo, Maeda, Furuhashi, Palma.
Subs: Abada, Yang, Turnbull, Nawrocki, Oh, Bain, Hatate, Ralston, Michael Johnston.
Rangers: Butland, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Yilmaz, Lundstram, Sterling, Cantwell, McCausland, Dessers, Sima.
Subs: Souttar, Lammers, Cifuentes, Matondo, Dowell, Scott Wright, McCrorie, King, Devine.
Referee: Nick Walsh (Scotland)
Hopefully we’ll stick with me here but here’s a public service announcement that we’re also covering this lunchtime’s Premier League fixture between Luton Town and Chelsea.
Just click on the link to read the updates.
Celtic being put through their paces
The warm-ups are well underway
Old Firm stats
This will be the 10th time that Celtic have faced Rangers in their final league match of a calendar year (W3 D3 L3 in the first nine). They have lost the last two such occasions: 1-2 in 2019 and 0-1 in 2018.
Since Philippe Clement’s first league game, Rangers have won more points (28) and conceded fewer goals (3) than any other side in the Scottish Premiership, winning nine of their 10 games.
Rangers have won their final league match in each of the last five calendar years since a 0-0 draw at Celtc in 2017. Two of those wins have been against Celtic (2018, 2019).
Brendan Rodgers has won 11 and lost one of his 14 Old Firm derbies; his win rate of 79% is the best of any manager in this fixture’s history for either club in major competitions.
None of Rangers last seven managers have won their first derby (D3 L4) since Ally McCoist in September 2011. The last Rangers manager to win his first away game with the club at Celtic was Walter Smith in August 1991 (2-0).
Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi has scored four goals in his last three league starts against Rangers, including a brace in April.
The snow has thankfully cleared
I’m pleased to say conditions have improved in Glasgow as we count down into the final half-hour before kick-off.
The snow earlier made for some lovely photographs but mercifully the pitch is now clear of the white stuff.
Dessers dreaming of scoring Old Firm winner
Cyriel Dessers says scoring a winning goal for Rangers at Celtic Park on Saturday would be a dream come true for him.
The 29-year-old Nigeria striker had a slow start to his Gers career after joining from Cremonese in the summer but he will travel to Parkhead with increasing confidence after four goals in his last seven games, taking his tally in Light Blue to nine so far.
Dessers admits an Old Firm derby clincher in boss Philippe Clement’s first experience of the fixture would be “amazing” as Rangers go in to the match five points behind the league leaders but with two games in hand.
He said: “It would be a dream actually.
“When you sign here, you know the city, you know the clubs, you know the Old Firm.
“To score there as a striker, that is something you dream of as a kid and hopefully tomorrow it will be my first in an Old Firm game.
“The start was pretty rocky, individually and as a team. You can see if you look at the results in the last two months that things have been improving and that we are in a good place right now.
“As a team, we are playing more fluidly now. We have more attacks rolling, more chances.
“For myself, I have got a little bit more confidence and in better form. I am still growing and there is a lot more to come.
“As a striker, you know how it works, once you get the goals flowing then you can follow them up and normally they keep going.”
Taylor hopes unified Celtic support can inspire victory
Celtic left-back Greg Taylor aims to feed off the unity among the Parkhead support in Saturday’s derby after bouncing back from two consecutive league defeats and a wave of unrest.
Back-to-back cinch Premiership losses to Kilmarnock and Hearts sparked chants of “sack the board” amid an otherwise flat Celtic Park atmosphere which missed the vibrancy of the banned Green Brigade and fellow ultras who stayed away in solidarity.
But the ban was lifted ahead of a comfortable victory over Livingston and the supporters stayed with their team at Dens Park on Boxing Day following a goalless first half.
Celtic Park will be full of 60,000 home supporters on Saturday after the champions refused Rangers’ request amid an ongoing disagreement over allocations for the derby fixture.
Taylor said: “It’s an amazing feeling, having a stadium full of your own fans, right behind you pushing you from the moment go. So it’ll be exciting and we are all looking forward to it.
“They were right up for it at Dens Park.
“We had disappointing performances and, when that comes, you get a bit of stick.
“That’s normal, especially at a club this size. The supporters demand performances and results.
“The two defeats together weren’t good enough, so, no, I think it was justified we took a bit of stick, but there are a lot of boys in there with big, broad shoulders who can take it and go out and prove people wrong.”
Rangers need to turn the tide in Old Firm clashes
Celtic drew first blood in the Old Firm games this season back in September when Kyogo Furuhashi’s goal split the sides at Ibrox.
And Rangers’ recent record in the fixture is pretty dire in all honesty, with just one win in the last eight. That includes five losses and two draws.
That win, 3-0 at Ibrox in May last season, came with Celtic heading for the title.
Their record at Parkhead has become lousy too, with only two wins in 17 away derbies, including 11 defeats. Only under Steven Gerrard in December 2019 and October 2020 – en route to their last title – did they win on enemy territory.
When strong medicine failed to ease the discomfort caused by pancreatic cancer for Frank McGarvey, son Sean found a treatment rarely recommended by the NHS.
He switched on the TV, opened up YouTube and took the old boy on a wander down memory lane. A whistle stop tour of his Celtic goals was a painkiller more potent than a shot of morphine.
‘When dad was alive he was always amazed because I would talk to him about games he played in with more detail than he ever remembered,’ Sean tells Mail Sport now.
Click the link to read more
Lots of work for the ground staff
The game isn’t in doubt but the snow has caused plenty of extra work for the Parkhead ground staff, who have been using all manner of implements – including leaf blowers – to clear the surface.
The situation at the top
A quick glance at the top of the Scottish Premiership table before kick-off.
Celtic moved five points clear of Rangers thanks to their 3-0 win at Dundee on Boxing Day.
Rangers, who had a game in hand anyway, weren’t in action because their game at Ibrox on Wednesday with Ross County was postponed.
Their opponents weren’t able to get down the A9 to Glasgow from Dingwall because of adviser weather conditions, leaving no option but to call the match off.
Confirmation of the Rangers side for the derby
STARTING LINE-UP: Butland, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Yilmaz, Lundstram, Sterling, McCausland, Cantwell, Sima, Dessers.
Substitutes: McCrorie, Souttar, Lammers, Cifuentes, Matondo, Dowell, Wright, King, Devine.
Rangers are boosted that Connor Goldson is fit enough to take his place at the heart of their defence, while John Lundstram also returns to their midfield.
Here’s how Celtic line-up for the Old Firm
STARTING LINE-UP: Hart, A.Johnston, Welsh, Scales, Taylor, McGregor, O’Riley, Bernardo, Maeda, Palma, Kyogo.
Substitutes: Bain, Abada, Yang, Turnbull, Nawrocki, Oh, Hatate, Ralston, M.Johnston.
Celtic welcome back Reo Hatate and Liel Abada into their squad and they take a place on the bench.
Stephen Walsh partners Liam Scales at centre-half, while Cameron Carter-Vickers is absent.
It was quite the send-off for Rangers earlier
There won’t be any Rangers fans inside Parkhead today with the long-standing dispute between the two clubs over tickets rumbling on.
So the Gers support ensured their team received a rousing send-off when they boarded their team bus at Ibrox this morning for the short journey over to Celtic Park.
Hundreds of fans gathered in the snow to sing and light flares to fire up the players.
It’s a winter wonderland in Glasgow’s East End!
It’ll be heated on the pitch but this derby will be played in very chilly conditions.
Glasgow this Saturday resembles a wintry wonderland as the snow swirls around and the Celtic fans making their way to the game are certainly well wrapped up.
Temperatures will not be much above freezing during the game, though that snow is expected to turn to rain as the day progresses.
It’s a huge Old Firm derby!
Old Firm derbies rarely need much hype but there’s genuinely so much riding on this pre-Hogmanay meeting of Celtic and Rangers.
For the first time in a good while, we have a title race in the Scottish Premiership and today’s outcome will do so much to determine who goes into 2024 with momentum.
Celtic, the reigning champions, leading the way by five points at the moment but not necessarily looking like their old selves during the opening half of the campaign after Brendan Rodgers returned.
Rangers, with two games in hand, enjoying a fresh lease of life under coach Philippe Clement, who is unbeaten in his first 16 games in charge and already in possession of the League Cup.
If Celtic win at Parkhead this lunchtime, they’ll put some much-needed breathing space between themselves and their bitter rivals at the turn of the year.
But if Rangers can win, it’s very much game on for a gripping title race.
A warm welcome to our live coverage of the second Old Firm of the season.