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Football | Europe

James Forrest © Gallo Images

Forrest strikes as Celtic sink Rangers



James Forrest capped an explosive Old Firm derby by scoring the late winner with both teams down to 10 men to give Celtic a 2-1 victory over Rangers.

Rangers lost Alfredo Morelos, who was sent off, yet again, after 31 minutes. Celtic's Dedyrck Boyata limped off after 75 minutes with the scores level and the home team having made all three substitutions.

The game ended in a brawl as Celtic moved 13 points clear.

Neil Lennon's side had taken a first half lead through Odsonne Edouard before Ryan Kent equalised for 10-man Rangers after the interval at Parkhead.

Morelos's dismissal for an off-the-ball clash with Celtic's Scott Brown made it five red cards for the volatile Rangers striker, although the first of those was rescinded on appeal earlier this season.

Celtic grabbed a late winner when a poor back-pass from Rangers defender James Tavernier unhinged the visitors. Celtic exploited the opportunity as Scotland winger Forrest stroked the ball home.

Forrest's goal lit the fuse on an already ferocious encounter and on-loan Liverpool youngster Kent was lucky to avoid a red card after shoving over Brown.

The fulltime whistle triggered more ugly scenes with a number of players from both teams and other members of each coaching staff involved in a melee started by Rangers' Andy Halliday and the fiery Brown.

Halliday appeared to have been sent off for a second yellow card following the clash.

"I'm not happy with the treatment Scott Brown got. He's been elbowed in the face (by Morelos) and he's been punched or pushed in the face by Kent," Lennon said.

"Rangers should have been down to nine. It's unacceptable."

After some semblance of order had been restored, Celtic were able to celebrate a win that puts them 13 points clear of second placed Rangers and a step closer to winning the title for an eighth successive year.

"We've come away with a fantastic win against a very motivated Rangers side. I can't ask for any more from my players," Lennon said.

It was a second defeat in three Old Firm derbies for Rangers manager Steven Gerrard since the former Liverpool star moved to Ibrox last year.

LACK OF DISCIPLINE

"You're playing against a player who loves to antagonise. Morelos and Kent are both provoked," said Gerrard of Brown's role in the incidents.

"The guy who antagonised it all from the beginning deserves to be punished as well. When you're provoked, it's only fair that both sides get punished.

"But we've hurt ourselves badly this season with a lack of discipline. I've given my players the benefit of the doubt on too many times.

"Morelos has asked me for a chat, and that will be picked up."

Celtic were on top in the early stages and their pressure was rewarded in the 27th minute.

Forrest released Edouard with a fine pass and the Frenchman ran clear to slot a cool finish into the roof of the net.

With tempers running high four minutes later, Brown appeared to kick out at Morelos, who reacted with enough force to earn a red card.

Scott Sinclair and Mikael Lustig came close to a second Celtic goal, but Rangers hit back after the break and Kent bagged an 63rd minute equaliser.

Kent collected a pass from Tavernier, burst past Boyata and finished his incisive raid with a cool strike through the legs of Celtic goalkeeper Scott Bain.

But a mix-up in the Rangers defence proved decisive in the 86th minute.

Tavernier's errant pass was seized on by Edouard and he laid the ball across the penalty area for Forrest to stroke home the winner that sparked frenzied scenes in the stands and on the pitch.



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