50 min: First glimpse of Hagi’s talent. Turns and spins, and shoots wide. That’s their best moment of the game so far and it’s a half-chance at best.
49 min: Rangers lose possession again as Morelos, who has been poor, is wasteful.
48 min: Rangers begin with a head of steam. Then Aribo and McGregor go into an Auld Firm-style collision. Both get up. There needs to be crowd roaring on that type of thing.
46 min: Rangers make a change: on comes Ianis Hagi for the almost invisible Kemar Roofe. Something needed to change: the Gers were awful in the first half in attack.
Ian Copestake has been in touch: “The match is not disappointing in terms of no-holds barred coming togethering (which I for one was hoping for). The ref seems to be smiling at the leg crunchings though, a reaction which seems oddly refreshing.”
Half-time: Rangers 0-0 Celtic
It ends as it began, with heavy Celtic pressure. They’ve been excellent while Rangers have been clinging on for dear life. A draw suits Steven Gerrard’s team, though they will have to play far better to get one.
45 min: Goldson just manages to clear behind when Eduoard looked to be through. The corner that follows is headed by Bitton and his header looked to come off Goldson. There will be just a minute of time added on.
44 min: Neil Lennon rages as Ryan Christie shoots from distance, and wastefully. The suggestion is that Celtic are trying to catch Allan McGregor with a ‘worldie’ as he has been so excellent thus far.
42 min: Barkas has his first touch of the game, claiming a tame shot. Then Morelos has a glimpse of goal, only to be stopped in his tracks by a great tackle from Laxalt.
41 min: A nasty clash between Soro, who was late, very late, on Balogun. Both players down but they get back up. The yellow card is unsheathed.
40 min: Steven Davis booked for a tactical foul on Ajer who had escaped on a solo run through midfield. That was cynical from the veteran.
39 min: Tavernier’s cross cleared by Christie. The Celtic goalie has had nothing to do all game.
38 min: The stats suggest this is Rangers’ lowest passing accuracy of the season so far. You don’t need a stats readout to know they haven’t been very good today.
37 min: Turnbull makes an interception in midfield, and the ball dribbles through to Griffiths who shoots, and shoots wide.
35 min: Free-kick from distance, a long distance of 35 yards or so. Celtic’s Griffiths whacks it into the wall. Ambitious to say the least.
33 min: Celtic so much more relaxed in possession though they have slowed the pace of their attacks and Rangers have started to keep their shape a little better.
31 min: A flick-on from Eduoard finds Griffiths offside. Miles offside.
30 min: Roofe and Morelos have been very quiet while Kent has been typically busy but unable to get anything going. A draw is fine for Rangers but they need to create far more of a threat than this.
28 min: Tavernier actually now getting into the Celtic half. The Bhoys will have to look out for the Bradfordian goal machine if he gets much further forward.
26 min: In an exec box, Walter Smith looks on sternly and doesn’t look too impressed. Then again, Walter Smith usually looks stern and unimpressed.
24 min: Without McGregor, Celtic might have been two goals up. His defence – and Celtic’s attacking – have kept him busy…Christie cuts in and fires wide. Celtic still piling it on.
22 min: Griffiths rattles the woodwork…oh, it was a save from McGregor. He’s always been a fine shot-stopper but that is spectacular. He gets his fingers to it and pushes it on to the post. Brilliant from the veteran.
20 min: Morelos, still without a goal in an Old Firm derby, swings and misses at an Aribo pass. Rangers finally building up a head of steam.
18 min: Corner to Celtic after Balogun shanks a clearance behind. Turnbull takes and Steven Davis heads behind and is unaware where he has headed it. Rangers clear the next corner from Christie.
16 min: Some respite for Rangers but it’s brief as McGregor attempts to conjure a move to send Eduoard away. Ryan Kent sets off in attack for Rangers and then Aribo makes a mess of a chance to create an opportunity.
14 min: Rangers seem to have frozen. Celtic are at it, and without Scott Broon dishing out the stoosh too.
12 min: Tavernier, the freescoring defender, is having to do plenty of defending rather than attacking. Callum McGregor, cutting in from the left, fires wide. Allan McGregor in Rangers’ goal rages at his defenders. He’s being exposed.
10 min: Frimpong has space and he also has Griffiths waiting for a cross but his final ball is an appalling waste. A let-off once more for Rangers, who seem to think it’s January 1, like their manager in pre-game.
8 min: Celtic continue to dominate. Rangers have not mounted a proper attack, with Morelos’s only action that act of indiscipline.
6 min: Griffiths released by Turnbull booms in a shot that McGregor claws away. Celtic creating chances here. Rangers leaving themselves open.
5 min: Frimpong is fouled by Morelos, and that should have been a yellow card. He stood on the ankle. Perhaps the old rule of anything going in the first ten minutes of the Old Firm has stood there. It might actually be worse than a yellow card – an orange card, perhaps.
3 min: Celtic piling it on. Eduoard escapes and gets a shot in that Allan McGregor makes a fine save from. He then makes an even better save for the followup but the whistle had gone for offside.
2 min: Celtic start on the front foot with Laxalt seeing plenty of the ball out on the left. Twice he booms a cross in, but Godson clears on both occasions.
1 min: The game gets underway after the players take the knee. Rangers seek to go 19 points clear. Nothing less than a Celtic win will do for Neil Lennon’s team.
The players take to the field at an empty Ibrox with both captains bringing out a wreath and laying it on the field to commemorate those 66 fans who died 50 years ago. A minute’s silence around the centre circle follows after the coin toss.
Steven Gerrard speaks and doesn’t know what day it is.
We have to be the best version of ourselves. A lot of good teams have come and posed us a problem, of late, but we’ve performed well collectively and individually. I’ve got confidence and believe that the players are about to deliver and if we reach our heights I’m confident we’ll get what we want.
It will be another three points. It would stretch our lead, three important points but it’s the 1st of January [sic]. I’d much rather be in our position, that’s for sure.
[On Celtic] It’s none of my business. I don’t pick their team. It looks like they will play a diamond. We know it will be a tough game.
Here’s a Guardian long read from December on the Ibrox Disaster of 1971, written by John Hodgman.
Steven Gerrard picks Leon Balogun instead of Filip Helander in defence. Ryan Kent replaces Ianis Hagi. Nir Bitton replaces Christopher Jullien for Celtic, as club captain and Auld Firm swedger supreme Scott Brown has to settle for a place on the bench.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Barisic, Goldson, Balogun, Davis, Kamara, Aribo, Kent, Roofe, Morelos
Subs: McLaughlin, Bassey, Hagi, Itten, Defoe, Zungu, Patterson, Barker, Helander
Celtic: Barkas, Frimpong, Laxalt, Bitton, Ajer, Soro, McGregor, Turnbull, Christie, Griffiths, Edouard
Subs: Hazard, Duffy, Taylor, Brown, Ajeti, Rogic, Ntcham, Elyounoussi, Elhamed
This is an Old Firm game with an added poignancy. It is 50 years to the day since the Ibrox disaster claimed the lives of 66 fans and injured more than 200 people. Until Hillsborough, it was the gravest day in British football history and today will be a day to commemorate those who went to watch a match and never made it home. And a lack of fans in the stadium will perhaps add yet more to that poignancy.
On the pitch, this is a key match, historic perhaps. Should Steven Gerrard’s Rangers win and extend their lead, then Celtic’s ten in a row would seem to have gone up in smoke. But should Neil Lennon’s Celtic, lately on something of a revival, pull off a famous win then Rangers’ wobbles might begin. Those are the stakes at hand, but the day will begin with remembrance for those lost so tragically half a century ago.