GLASGOW, United Kingdom, Dec 31 – Scott Sinclair grabbed the winner as Celtic came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory in a thrilling Old Firm derby against Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday to extend their lead in the table to 19 points.
Veteran Kenny Miller had given Rangers a deserved 12th minute lead before Moussa Dembele fired Celtic level before the break.
Both sides had chances before Sinclair scored in the 70th minute to fire Celtic to their 15th league victory in a row and end Rangers’ unbeaten record at Ibrox, which stretched back to September 2015.
The win moves Celtic 19 points clear of their bitter rivals in second place and extends their unbeaten run to 24 domestic matches since the start of the season.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers — whose first Old Firm derby in September saw his side overwhelm Rangers 5-1 — was ecstatic.
“I thought we thoroughly deserved it. We needed to adjust one or two things at half time but I thought in the second half we were brilliant,” said Rodgers.
“We looked a real threat every time we went forward. I’m disappointed probably just to have two goals.”
His Rangers counterpart Mark Warburton bemoaned his side’s missed opportunities.
“We’ve lost our record at home which is very disappointing,” said Warburton.
“We’ve had some very good chances. It’s about the fine margins and taking your chances when they come along.”
It was the first Old Firm derby at Ibrox in nearly five years and the thunderous noise that swirled round the rain-swept stadium seemed to inspire the home side as Rangers made a determined start.
Their early pressure paid off when Miller fired them ahead.
Erik Sviatchenko lost the ball just outside the box to Josh Windass whose clever pass down the right for James Tavernier carved the Celtic defence apart.
Tavernier then whipped a fierce cross into the box and 37-year-old Miller got to the ball first to tap it in from a couple of yards out to send the home fans wild.
The home side’s celebrations were tempered by the fact they lost Joe Garner to injury in the build-up to the goal with Martyn Waghorn replacing him.
The English striker then made an immediate impact as he got on the end of Tavernier’s free-kick only to see his close range header superbly saved by Craig Gordon.
Celtic had looked a pale imitation of the side that dominated the league this season but came close to an opener when a Sinclair shot hit the base of the post with Clint Hill knocking the rebound out of play.
From the resultant corner a moment of magic saw Celtic equalise in the 33rd minute.
Sinclair’s delivery made its way to the back post where Dembele took a touch on his chest before unleashing an unstoppable left-foot strike into the roof of the net for his fifth goal against Rangers in three games.
The visitors came close to taking the lead for the first time in the 55th minute when Callum McGregor’s cross reached Dembele in the box who sent a shot bouncing into the turf and off the crossbar.
However, Celtic were not to be denied as substitute Patrick Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, had an immediate impact.
His reverse pass down the right found Stuart Armstrong whose ball across the six-yard box was tapped in at the back post by Sinclair.
Rangers should have levelled matters in the 80th minute when a quick breakaway saw Andy Halliday play a ball across the box for Miller whose first-time effort clipped the base of the post before being cleared.