Friday, October 30, 2020

Gerrard challenges Rangers after achieving first Celtic Park double for 23 years

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 17 Oct 2020

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Steven Gerrard challenged his Rangers players to follow up their success against Celtic with a meaningful title challenge after winning a second straight Old Firm derby.

Rangers triumphed 2-0 on Saturday thanks to an unlikely double from centre-back Connor Goldson, who scored in each half as a depleted Celtic failed to register a single shot on target.

Having also won the last meeting in December, Gerrard has become the first Rangers manager to win back-to-back away league games over Celtic since March 1997.

As his team bid to prevent their rivals from winning a 10th straight Scottish Premiership, he urged his players to build on their victory.

Asked if the 23-year first proves the gap has closed between the two teams, Gerrard told Sky Sports: “The players are showing more maturity, with time and games we are getting more experienced together.

“It was a really mature performance, but we need more of that from now until the end of the season. We have still got an awful lot of hard work to do and we have respect for the team we are chasing.

“That is going to be our challenge now: can we go the distance?

“It is a big win, of course it is. Always a tough game, big challenge when you come here with a lot of pressure, a lot of anxiety.

“We did not have to play at our maximum and I don’t think we were at our fluent best, but we’ve come here and controlled the game with and without the ball.

“Allan McGregor has not really been tested, so we are really pleased with the performance the players have given.

“We were certainly worthy winners – Celtic threw everything at us. They have started with and brought on really good players that are worth a lot of money but we managed the game.

“We will enjoy the win but there will be no getting carried away. We need to remain humble and on we go.”

Last year’s win had been Rangers’ first over Celtic in the league since 2010 and, after his two goals sealed a second straight triumph, match-winner Goldson also earned the praise of Gerrard.

“I’m shocked but he’s certainly capable,” Gerrard said of Goldson, who added to his double with seven clearances and two blocks, both tied for game highs.

“His all-round performance was outstanding; he deserves the headlines he is going to get. He led us from the back.”

Celtic are now four points behind Rangers but do have a game in hand.

Manager Neil Lennon acknowledged they had struggled without star striker Odsonne Edouard, one of four players missing due to coronavirus-related issues from the international break.

“We have given away two poor goals from our point of view and missed a great chance to equalise [through Mohamed Elyounoussi],” said Lennon, who is also contending with several injuries.

“[Albian] Ajeti and [Leigh] Griffiths are not fully fit, Edouard is out – so three main strikers missing to start with.

“We created good chances in the first half to score but I have to say Rangers defended their box pretty well and that was the difference. We will look at the performance and build for better.”

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