[media-credit name=”© Sky Sports” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]Celtic dominated much of the possession in the first half, however Rangers had the better of the chances in front of goal.
On six minutes Lee Wallace met a Sone Aluko cross at the back post, but Forster made a superb save to clear the former Hearts player’s shot. Television replays later showed that the ball had crossed the line by mere millimetres but there was little if any claim from the Rangers players that they had scored.
Seven minutes before the half hour mark, another Aluko corner caused problems for Celtic at the back as it was nodded down by Nikica Jelavic into the path of Carlos Bocanegra, but the American international could only scoop his shot wide from six yards out.
At the other end Rangers keeper Allan McGregor was earning his wage as he denied Scott Brown, Gary Hooper and James Forrest – although their shots were more straightforward to deal with.
Celtic did find the back of the net as Georgios Samaras fired in a rebound from a Gary Hooper shot that McGregor spilled, but the linesman adjudged the Greek to be offside.
The home side pressed forward in the second half looking for that all-important equaliser, both Kyle Bartley and Carlos Bocanegra made last-ditch blocks to deny Celtic and McGregor tipped a strike from Forrest over the bar.
However it wasn’t long before the breakthrough was made and it went the way of Celtic, as Welsh international Joe Ledley outmuscled Kirk Broadfoot at the back post to head home Charlie Mulgrew’s corner kick.
Boosted by the goal, Celtic pegged back Rangers as the away side looked to frustrate their rivals by parking all eleven players behind the ball.
Moments later and the Celtic support were left reeling as Gary Hooper was flagged for offside as he latched onto a Samaras pass, despite replays proving that he was at least a yard onside.
As the game drew on it became the usual battle on the field with late tackles flying in. Israeli midfielder Beram Kayal was stretchered off after a late tackle from Lee McCulloch, who was in the starting line-up after the club appealed his red card from the St.Mirren game when he was sent off for elbowing Graham Carey. Before Rangers substitute David Healy scythed down James Forrest in a tackle that should have warranted more than just the yellow that referee Willie Collum dished out to the Northern Irishman.
Healy’s countryman Kyle Lafferty joined him in the book soon after when he lunged at Adam Matthews, giving Willie Collum no other option than to book the Rangers forward as the Ibrox side became frustrated, before Anthony Stokes was cautioned for a late tackle on Lafferty near the end.
With minutes remaining, Rangers launched a series of long balls forward in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser, but Celtic were able to fend off the attacks with relative ease and held on for all three points and with that leapfrog Rangers into top spot.
Possession: Celtic 56% Rangers 44%
Attempts on target: Celtic 9 Rangers 2
Attempts off target: Celtic 5 Rangers 4
Corners: Celtic 7 Rangers 4
Fouls: Celtic 11 Rangers 22
Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Rogne, Mulgrew, Ledley, Brown, Kayal (Ki, 77), Wanyama, Forrest, Samaras, Hooper (Stokes, 86).
Subs not used: Zaluska, Kelvin Wilson, Cha, Bangura, McCourt.
Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Bartley, Bocanegra, Papac, Aluko (Wylde, 66), McCulloch (Edu, 79), Davis, Wallace (Healy, 79) Jelavic, Lafferty.
Subs not used: Alexander, Weir, Edu, Fleck, Bendiksen.
Referee: William Collum.