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I've been (un)fortunate enough to go to Ibrox to watch Ranger's play, albeit only once. My brother, best mate and I were up in the Gods. A relative late comer sat in the seat beside me just before kick off, the first words out of his mouth were "Fuck the Pope, ye's fenian bastards ye's!". Quite. About 15 minutes in they started singing The Sash. I thought OK, you Scottish boys don't have a clue what you're on about but I'll just smile and say nothing. Eventually it got to the point where we had to join in all the hollering about "fenians", "fuck the pope", and various sectarian reworkings of different songs. If we hadn't we'd likely have got a kicking. Rangers opposition that day were none other than Motherwell! The 2 or 3 hours it took for us to safely get from Ibrox to Partick underground were among the longest of my life. Scary stuff, never again. I'll wager I'd feel no better sitting in Celtic Park either.

If I had my way Celtic and Rangers would both be shut down and their stadiums burnt to the ground. And don't tell me the people screaming the sectarian abuse are the minority at these grounds because they aren't.


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Aberdeen 0 - Vennegoor of Hesselink 78
Celtic 1

"WHO the f*** are Man United?" sang the Celtic fans, with one eye on the pitch and the other on Wednesday's upcoming Champions League match with the Old Trafford side. The chances are the guys on the pitch did too, but having made fairly heavy weather of beating one team in red, the wise among them will know that, when it comes to the red of Sir Alex Ferguson's team, it indicates greater danger.

 

But this was mission accomplished for Gordon Strachan's men - they came away with maximum points and key players unscathed. It was another 90 minutes of getting to know you for newcomers Lee Naylor, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and debut boy Thomas Gravesen, ahead of their opening match in the game's premier club competition.

His arrival and the vigour with which he set about winning the favour of his new team-mates, and the travelling fans, meant one thing was as inevitable as the Celtic victory. From the early stages of the contest it seemed unthinkable that the frisky, foraging figure of Gravesen would come through his first Scottish Premierleague match without a booking, and it was equally unlikely that the league leaders would fail to churn out a winner. It took 63 minutes for the first to materialise, but the visitors had to wait until the 78th minute for Vennegoor of Hesselink to secure the points.

The teams had started the match with only one point separating them. Well, a sole league point but one or two other key differences. While Strachan brought Vennegoor of Hesselink and Real Madrid midfielder Gravesen in through the transfer window, opposite number Jimmy Calderwood's big addition was Lee Miller from Dundee United.

The longer the match went on the more pivotal those differences proved. By half-time Gravesen had already imprinted his presence on the match, with a performance which instantly dispelled the myth that he and Neil Lennon are too similar for both to work in the same midfield. The Dutchman, meanwhile, had been denied a penalty and eventually popped up with the second-half strike which guaranteed victory. Calderwood chose to replace his new signing after 75 minutes after he ran out of steam.

It was the home side's first defeat of the season and their first in the league at Pittodrie since December last year. It was Celtic who claimed their scalps that day, and in a well-fought battle Aberdeen seemed determined not to succumb again. Hard working and dogged defensively, they didn't allow Celtic many clear-cut chances, but it's a dangerous ploy to back off and allow the Parkhead side too much possession.

In the end there was little they could do, but having skelped a few efforts at Artur Boruc's goal as the minutes ebbed away, they may feel hard done by and wonder why they didn't adopt an up-and-at-'em attitude sooner.

The best of those late efforts came from a Russell Anderson flick-on during a frantic Aberdeen assault on the Celtic box. Darren Mackie tried to head it but with no Celtic shirts able to intervene, it was the bar which denied the home side. It was then hoofed clear by Stephen McManus, who spent the game nursing a thigh strain, but between the bar and McManus' boot there were claims for a handball by Naylor. It counter-balanced the appeal from the first half when Celtic's Dutch striker claimed he had been felled by Zander Diamond.

By then, Anderson, below, had already played a major part in keeping the visitors at bay, prompting chants of "Are you watching Walter Smith?" from the home fans. If the Scotland manager was, he will have been impressed.

Dominant in the first half, Celtic did try to press home their advantage but found the Aberdeen rearguard in miserly mood, allowing them possession but closing them down whenever a shot looked to be materialising. They were aided and abetted by the pressing play of the men ahead of them, underlining how they have managed to keep their unbeaten home record for so long.

As early as the 11th minute it was Anderson who proved the proverbial brick wall for Gravesen to run into, infuriating the debutant so much that he immediately scampered after the ball, and took out his frustration on Chris Clark who happened to get to it before him.

It was a clear statement of intent from the former Real Madrid man who looks ideally suited to the physical side of the Scottish game, full of running and spirit. But even he was restricted to a couple of long-range efforts as Aberdeen pressed them. It was par for the course throughout the rest of the game, with Aberdeen only evolving into an attacking force once the goal had been scored.

Even when the goal came, it was a slightly-fortuitous winner. Vennegoor of Hesselink's low shot from the edge of the box lacked pace but took a deflection off Michael Hart, rendering goalkeeper Jamie Langfield helpless. The Celtic manager had opted to play the big Dutch striker from the outset this week, partnering him with Maciej Zurawski, and it meant no starting place for Scotland striker Kenny Miller. But having been introduced to the fray early in the second half, it was the Scotland international who set up the goal, laying the ball back for the Dutchman to have his go. Yet neither strike pairing had the cutting edge Strachan still needs to find if his team are going to kill off games comprehensively - and the threat of fightbacks. Aberdeen were no pushovers and the task was not an easy one but it was surely easier that the one that awaits them midweek.

Improvements will have to be made between now and then. Celtic know that, but so too do Aberdeen. Their fans left the ground to a rendition of "Champions League... you're having a laugh".

But yesterday, at Pittodrie, it was the visitors who left with smiles on their faces.

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Le Guen's side come to the fore at last

Rangers 4 - Bardsley 17, Prso 28, Boyd 67 pen
Falkirk 0

RANGERS this season have certainly been pleasing on the eye. It is just that they haven't always been pleasing to their supporters in the business of goalscoring and points-gathering. Yesterday, all three elements came together in the Ibrox side's first comprehensive win under Paul le Guen, and the first occasion that finding the net has looked a breeze for them since the Premierleague campaign began.

 

On an afternoon in which contentment ran deep among the home supporters as their team punished a rancid display from Falkirk, a further cause for satisfaction was a first senior appearance in five months for their captain Barry Ferguson. He was given the full second half as a replacement for Libor Sionko and came through unscathed, despite limping through the final minutes. Le Guen declared himself "satisfied" with Ferguson's comeback but he was oddly unenthused about the display of his men in the first of seven games they face in the next 23 days.

A trip to Molde for a UEFA Cup-tie on Thursday will be followed by visits to Hibs, a CIS Cup tie at Dunfermline and then the first Old Firm game of the season in a fortnight at Celtic Park. New signing Sasa Papac is not eligible for Europe at all this season but the defender could come into the reckoning for Easter Road next Sunday.

"Sometimes we will have to play better than this afternoon. We must be ready to do so in our next four games," said Le Guen, whose men had the three points bagged from the moment Phil Bardsley sent a dipping free-kick low past Scott Higgins in the 17th minute. As Chris Burke led flailing Fakirk players on merry jigs, shimmering the crossbar after one mazy run, Rangers seemed to be in the mood. Their efforts brought a second goal when Brahim Hemdani provided a neat scooped cutback Dado Prso buried confidently but Croatian concurred with his manager that the home display had been far from vintage.

A different vintage was brought to mind yesterday as Rangers marked the fact that later this month it will be 50 years since Bill Struth's passing by renaming the main stand after him. A hugely successful 34-year stewardship of the club that brought 18 titles in 28 attempts makes Struth one the club's most significant and venerated figures. His contribution was honoured in classy fashion. And that did not begin and end with a pre-match plaque unveiling by John Greig, a short film on the stadium's Jumbotron screens and the half-time appearance of Rangers players from the Struth era. High standards were demanded during that time and football served up by Le Guen's side yesterday in moving into a matchwinning position would surely have met those.

The home side gave Falkirk the runaround for long passages of the first period. In setting out his side in a 4-3-3 formation in Glasgow, John Hughes' intentions were admirable. Perhaps there is something in being formerly an uncompromising Celtic centreback but the Falkirk manager is definitely from the Tony Mowbray school of a passing approach being non-negotiable. There is a thin line between being bold and foolhardy, however, and that was crossed in Russell Latapy, even a player of the month Russell Latapy, stranded in a deep-lying midfield role with little support. Seeing the 38-year-old forced into half-hearted tackles through losing the ball time and again was all the proof required that Hughes' gameplan hadn't worked. The Trinidadian's removal was inevitable and it arrived when he was replaced by Vitor Lima on 65 minutes.

Fortunately for Falkirk, Rangers were firmly in job-done mode by then, two goals to the good and only minutes away from Kris Boyd adding a third from the penalty spot after being unceremoniously hauled down by an already-booked Darren Barr. Substitute Thomas Buffel then added a blinding individual effort 12 minutes from time, smearing a left-foot drive from fully 25 yards into the top corner. Infuriatingly for Hughes, Falkirk bore little relation to the team that began the season with two wins and a draw. It is to this form and this approach their manager insisted they must quickly return. "We were too slow and too pedestrian today and we must be quicker in thought when he have the ball," he said. As opposed to being all too quick to lose it on a day Hughes felt his team lost cheap goals. "The free-kick was down to the keeper's left and the second goal came through the middle." Although he felt his team were "well beaten" he somehow arrived at the conclusion a four-goal defeat was hard on them. "We never deserved anything but the scoreline was harsh. In saying that we never looked like scoring and all credit to Rangers. We need to be more resolute not just defensively but from the front."

To avoid being the affront they were yesterday.

MAN OF THE MATCH

PHIL BARDSLEY: A fine free-kick opener from Phil Bardsley coupled with sound, unfussy defensive work from the on-loan Manchester United full-back made him as impressive as any one of a clutch of Ibrox performers who turned in decent displays. In only his second appearance for his temporary club, the 20-year-old looked right at home in a defence far less jittery than it has been in recent encounters.

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Reply with quote  #33 

Jeezo H6, your first post reminds me of when i was a very wee wean and vague memories of my daddy fallin in the door and singing the same sort o songs, though not like that in any way sober as per the drink n a night in the pub brought on his whatever it was side o him, he'd been brought up by his dad being in the orange lodge and mum was brought up attending chapel every single day o her life, both disowned by my grannies n grandas for a bit after they married but all resolved after time and it only  made for how my siblings n me were brought up unaffiliated with no sectarian views which i'm only grateful for,as are my own children i don't care what football colours live in or enter my house, don't see the point literally in any of it, sorry guys but i am female n still not convinced of this so called skill thing!!(frankly i do more moves gettin across the lavy flair oot the shower) hehe, ,xxxsteeleyma

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Jeezo H6, your first post reminds me of when i was a very wee wean and vague memories of my daddy fallin in the door and singing the same sort o songs.

 

Reminds me too as a kid hearing all the different tunes then whistling them only to get a clump round the ear from my Grandad......nane o' that in here..scud!

 

To be honest it has cooled down over the years and they are only tunes but when the words are attached ....Yip folk have a problem that has been with us since 1690.


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Man Utd 3-2 Celtic

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates Man Utd's third goal
Louis Saha scored twice to give Manchester United victory in the Champions League clash with Celtic.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink put Celtic ahead with a low shot after 21 minutes.

United equalised when Saha scored from the spot after Celtic keeper Artur Boruc fouled Ryan Giggs, then the French striker swept home a second.

Shunsuke Nakamura's free-kick put Celtic level, but Thomas Gravesen's mistake gifted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer United's third seconds after the break.

Saha instantly emerged as a threat to Celtic, with a header from Gary Neville's cross that drifted inches wide and a stunning left-foot volley that was narrowly over the top.

But Celtic broke the shackles to take the lead after 21 minutes - and it was a goal Rio Ferdinand will want to forget.

606 VIEW
RS

Boruc's long kick saw Venegoor of Hesselink brush aside a feeble Ferdinand challenge and score with a finish from 18 yards.

United equalised seven minutes later when Boruc was very harshly adjudged to have fouled Giggs as he raced out of goal.

Saha tucked away the spot-kick, but the downside for United saw Giggs limp off with what appeared to be a hamstring strain, to be replaced by Solskjaer.

Venegoor of Hesselink wasted a perfect opportunity to restore Celtic's lead after 36 minutes when he met Nakamura's free-kick but headed tamely at Edwin van der Sar.

United made Celtic pay for their generosity shortly after when they went ahead through Saha.

Gravesen lost possession to Scholes, and he delivered an inviting pass for Saha to steer home.

But Celtic were adopting a bold approach and restored equality three minutes before the break when Nakamura curled a perfect 25-yard free-kick beyond Van der Sar.

Gravesen - who was struggling to make an impact - then wasted all Celtic's good work with another awful error to present United with a third seconds after the re-start.

He carelessly passed straight to Scholes, who once again played in Saha, and when his effort was scrambled clear by Boruc, Solskjaer lashed the loose ball into the roof of the net.

Saha could have had at least a hat-trick, and he was narrowly off target with another header from Darren Fletcher's cross in the 63rd minute.

United were now in the ascendancy and Rooney somehow contrived to miss from six yards after a surging run from Ferdinand, and was then denied by the excellent Boruc after he wrong-footed the Celtic defence.

Gravesen almost made amends for his part in two of United's goals with a trademark run and shot, but Van der Sar was equal to the task.

Boruc was in magnificent form, and he produced his best save of a busy evening from his own defender Paul Telfer with seven minutes left.

He somehow changed direction to claw Telfer's header on to an upright when he inadvertantly directed Darren Fletcher's cross towards his own goal.


Man Utd: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Brown, Silvestre, Fletcher, Scholes (O'Shea 79), Carrick, Giggs (Solskjaer 32), Rooney (Richardson 86), Saha.
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Evra, Smith, Vidic.

Booked: Silvestre.

Goals: Saha 30 pen, 40, Solskjaer 47.

Celtic: Boruc, Wilson (Telfer 51), Caldwell, McManus, Naylor, Lennon, Nakamura, Gravesen, Jarosik (Miller 55), McGeady (Maloney 69), Vennegoor of Hesselink.
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Balde, Zurawski, Sno.

Booked: Boruc, Miller.

Goals: Vennegoor of Hesselink 21, Nakamura 43.

Att: 74,031

Ref: Lubos Michel (Slovakia).


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16 September 2006
SOFT CELTS
 
By Tam Cowan.

THIS time last week the Celtic fans were chanting: "Who the f*** are

Man Utd?"Well, they certainly found out on Wednesday night.

 

Most of the sweary words are now reserved for the ref who awarded

Ryan Giggs that dodgy spot-kick. But perhaps the Celtic supporters

now realize how the rest of us feel.

 

I'm telling you, Bhoys, it doesn't matter if you follow Motherwell,

Kilmarnock, Dunfermline or whoever, a soft penalty for the big team

against the wee team is always a hard one to take.

 

Thomas Gravesen had an eventful evening (can you name another

Celtic player who set up a Champions League winning goal in only his

second game for the club?) but what about Artur Boruc's save from

Paul Tetter's misplaced header?

 

With the game on nationally any chance our friends south of the

border could now shut their traps about Gordon Banks and Pele?


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23 September 2006
OLD FIRM FACTFILE
OLD FIRM CRUNCH...

Gordon Strachan has led Celtic five times with three wins, a draw and a defeat behind him.

Former Rangers boss Alex McLeish won eight of the Glasgow derbies, lost 13 while four were drawn.

Rangers have won only four of the last 21 SPL Old Firm league encounters.

Celtic netted seven goals in five Old Firm games last season.

Rangers have drawn a blank in the last four games.

Nacho Novo is the top SPL scorer among the current Ibrox squad against Celtic with three.

 

The highest attendance for a league meeting between the clubs was 118,567 at Ibrox in January 1939. It is still a British record.

Gregory Vignal's strike in the 2-0 victory at Parkhead in February last year was Rangers' 200th league goal against Celtic.

Alan Thompson holds an unwanted record in Old Firm clashes - he is the only player to be sent off on three occasions, all at Ibrox.

Alex McLeish went head to head with Martin O'Neill 20 times with the ex-Celtic boss winning 10 while the Rangers gaffer enjoyed seven wins.

There has been one eightgoal Old Firm game in the Premier League. The clubs drew 4-4 in March 1986.

Fourteen players could make their Old Firm debut today.

Celtic won back-to-back Old Firm games last November. They defeated their old rivals 2-0 in the CIS Cup and then won 3-0 10 days later in the league.

Rangers were victorious only once in 12 games at Parkhead during Martin O'Neill's reign.

Chris Sutton netted the fastest-ever Old Firm goal timed at 19 seconds in the 3-2 defeat at Ibrox in 2002.

Ally McCoist scored Rangers' fastest-ever Premier goal against Celtic in 33 seconds at Parkhead in August 1983.

John Hartson, once rejected by Rangers, scored eight goals against the Ibrox outfit.

Celtic fired only two blanks in Martin O'Neill's 26 Glasgow derbies - both last season.

The teams first met at Parkhead on May 28, 1888 when Celtic won 5-2 in front of 2000 fans.

Henrik Larsson netted 11 league goals against Rangers - a post-war record for a Celtic player.

Paul Le Guen's last visit to Parkhead as manager ended with a 2-0 defeat with Lyon in 2003.


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I absolutely hate it when old firm games are on, when I worked in a couple of pubs in Killie you knew when it was all gonna kick off and the tension was unreal, made loads of money, but it wasnt worth the hassle cause then you had to repair everything that got broken it was a nightmare. 

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Hi All... thanks for all the posts with regards to 'The Old Firm'.  It's times like this when I'm glad that I'm not the slightest bit interested in football.

 

OK, I lie.  I love it, and bigotry and sectarianism aside, ye cannae whack an auld firm game.  What I cannot abide, however, is when one particular side wins (generally not the one you support), and as a result, you never get to hear the end of it.  And believe me, changing your team (and risking further abuse of being tarnished as a traitor), or simply pretending that the teasing doesn't bother you - and as women, we are very adept at pretending things don't bother us, when in fact, THEY DO - will not work.

 

Anyway, I digress.  I have to agree with JKane6364 in that when an Old Firm Game is on, the tension, particularly in pubs etc, is palpable, and potentially explosive, and it ruins whole atmosphere. 

 

At the end of the day, it's only a game.  Even if your side do end up losing. Grrrrrrrrr.....


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Well as someone with no interest in football at the old firm games when behind the bar i wore both scarves i wasnt fallin out with anyone.. 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JKANE6364

Well as someone with no interest in football at the old firm games when behind the bar i wore both scarves i wasnt fallin out with anyone.. 

That's the way it should be JKANE although there is some trouble its not as bad as all those years ago.

 

However the passion for the game is still very much alive.

 

Kenny Miller scores from the penalty spot to... 

 

Lethal Miller on the spot for Celtic... 

GORDON Strachan expressed his delight last night at the combination of results which elevated Celtic into second place in Group F of the Champions League.

A first-half penalty from Kenny Miller gave Strachan's side a 1-0 victory over Copenhagen and their first points of the campaign. Their cause was aided by Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Benfica in Portugal which puts the Old Trafford side clear at the top of the section on six points, three ahead of Celtic who occupy the other qualifying position, with Copenhagen and Benfica bringing up the rear on a point each.

 

While delighted to get his first win in the Champions League, Strachan admitted his side endured a nervy finale against the Danish team. "In the first half we were excellent," he said. "In the second half bits and bobs were all right but we got nervous in the last 20 minutes. But it's fantastic to get the win; the three points are huge. This is a team that beat Ajax away, don't forget.

"It's great for us we've got three points and the others [Benfica and Copenhagen] have one each. It's been a right good night for us."

Strachan's only complaint was the crowd getting on the back of Celtic right-back Paul Telfer in the early stages.

The manager said: "Do people not realise the work he does to allow [Shunsuke] Nakamura to play? He's up and down that right flank making passes. I did get annoyed when his first pass went astray and the crowd got on to him. You're either with us or you're not."

Miller failed to score in his first eight competitive appearances for Celtic but broke his duck in the Old Firm derby against Rangers on Saturday. The confidence derived from netting against his old club had clearly not deserted him and the striker was first to volunteer when German referee Florian Meyer pointed to the penalty spot when Nakamura was tripped in the box by Copenhagen defender Michael Gravgaard in the 36th minute. Miller stepped up and sent the ball low past goalkeeper Jesper Christiansen to hand Celtic victory.

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Buffel and Ferguson secure a lift for Le Guen..

Rangers 2 Buffel (12) Ferguson (45)
Molde 0

RANGERS last night dragged themselves out of their recent malaise to claim a place in the group stage of the UEFA Cup and spare Paul Le Guen from a bout of crisis management just two months into his Ibrox reign.

 

First-half goals of the highest quality from Thomas Buffel and captain Barry Ferguson were enough for Le Guen's team to overcome Molde and take their place in next Tuesday's draw in Nyon.

If the superbly worked and sweetly finished goals hardly reflected the overall nature of Rangers' performance, the result was all that mattered on a hugely significant night for Le Guen.

As in the first leg in Norway two weeks earlier, he was indebted to goalkeeper Allan McGregor who made several outstanding saves to prevent Arild Stavrum's tidy side from making this a far less comfortable 90 minutes for Rangers.

Having ensured his club will enjoy the financial benefits of competing in the group stage of the UEFA Cup, Le Guen now must revitalise a championship challenge that has stuttered badly in September.

Even for a man who tasted the rarefied air of the Champions League quarter-finals in charge of Lyon, this early phase of Europe's second-tier tournament had become as important an assignment as any faced in his coaching career so far.

Le Guen's team selection was bold enough, both in terms of the number of attacking players he included and his decision to deploy Brahim Hemdani in central defence alongside Julien Rodriguez.

It was a damning indictment of Karl Svensson's failure to justify his manager's faith in him; the defender was left with much to think about on the substitutes' bench as he was overlooked as the replacement for the ineligible Sasa Papac.

Buffel and Libor Sionko were restored to the starting line-up, a necessary signal of intent from Le Guen, with the pair linking up with Dado Prso in a three-pronged supporting cast for striker Kris Boyd.

When captain Barry Ferguson snapped into an early tackle to win possession and start a sweeping move which culminated in Boyd putting the ball in the net, even the offside flag which was quite properly raised failed to dampen the enthusiasm it sparked among the Rangers fans.

But the home support were soon collectively drawing a sharp intake of breath when Molde striker Magne Hoseth set off on a counter-attack. Fortunately for Rangers, Hoseth elected to shoot from 25 yards and his effort was blocked.

When Allan McGregor then had to be alert to hold a curling 20-yard shot from Molde captain Daniel Berg Hestad, it prompted Le Guen to stride anxiously to the edge of his technical area.

His concerns were lifted by Rangers' opening goal, which was a fine example of the kind of incisive, attacking football so conspicuous by its absence from his team's recent performances.

Prso surged towards the left edge of the Molde penalty area and released a perfectly weighted pass to overlapping left-back Steven Smith. The youngster's low cross picked out Buffel's well-timed run into the six-yard box and the Belgian internationalist gave Larsen no chance with his emphatic finish.

The pressure which lifted from the shoulders of the home side was almost tangible, and they might easily have doubled their lead quickly. Buffel saw a 20- yard shot held by Larsen, then Boyd contrived to send a close-range shot wide.

Molde, however, remained ambitious and in a position where one goal would swing the tie in their favour. Marel Baldvinsson, the Icelandic international striker who had missed the first leg, appeared the biggest threat to the Rangers defence and he came close with a couple of headed efforts as fresh uncertainty began to creep into the home team's play.

When McGregor then had to scramble to his right to turn a header from Hoseth behind for a corner, grumbles of discontent began to emanate from the Rangers supporters, but their mood was dramatically changed just on the stroke of half-time. It was another terrific goal from Rangers and a sweet moment for Ferguson as he battles to regain full fitness and form. Sionko's through ball was delightfully back-heeled by Boyd into his captain's path, Ferguson steadying himself and shooting past Larsen from around ten yards.

The opening minute of the second half delivered a reminder to Rangers that they still had work to do, McGregor maintaining his excellent recent form when he plunged low to hold a shot from Hoseth who had sprinted clear of Hemdani.

The Rangers supporters behind McGregor in the Broomloan Road Stand began chanting the young goalkeeper's name, the chorus of approval struck up again moments later when he made another terrific save.

Prso passed up an opportunity to erase all doubt about the outcome when he sent a free header from Charlie Adam's free-kick straight into the arms of Larsen.

Le Guen decided it was time to take out some insurance against a Molde comeback, replacing Boyd with Gavin Rae with 23 minutes remaining. Rangers struggled to replicate the kind of flowing football which brought them their goals, but they did raise the standard with a slick combination between Buffel and Ferguson which saw Prso drive a shot inches wide.

Prso then forced a diving save from Larsen with a shot from the edge of the box as it appeared Rangers had finally sucked all the conviction from their visitors.

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OLD FIRM UNITED CAN BEAT BIGOTS...

CELTIC and Rangers must join forces to beat bigotry, a football expert said yesterday.

Professor Bert Moorhouse also called for every professional footballer in Scotland to be given anti-sectarianism training.

His proposals were among 28 recommendations made yesterday in a report which found that religious bigotry remained a "major problem" in the eyes of Scottish footb all fans.

But Professor Moorhouse found radically different views on sectarianism among Celtic and Rangers supporters.

Hoops fans believed it was a massive problem - and said they were often victims of anti-Catholic discrimination. Gers fans were alone in believing sectarianism was not a major problem

Professor Moorhouse, director of the Football Studies research unit at Glasgow University, was commissioned by the Executive to report on fans' views on the issue.

He urged the Old Firm to merge their anti-sectarian campaigns - Pride Over Prejudice at Ibrox and Bhoys Against Bigotry at Parkhead.

In a joint statement last night, Rangers and Celtic said they were both "totally committed" to wiping out sectarianism.

The two clubs said their joint Old Firm Alliance, which encourages their youngest fans to play together, was an example of the work they were doing to combat sectarianism.


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Auxerre 2-2 Rangers
Dado Prso (right) could not find a way through for Rangers
Dado Prso (right) could not find a way through for Rangers
Rangers twice came from behind to grab the draw they needed to qualify from Group A of the Uefa Cup thanks to goals from Nacho Novo and Kris Boyd.

Ireneusz Jelen slotted Auxerre into the lead after poor defending following a long ball out of defence.

Younes Kaboul struck Rangers' bar before Novo poked the ball home from 16 yards after a slick passing movement.

Substitute Daniel Niculae headed the French side back ahead, but Boyd shot home the equaliser from close range.

Rangers had been unchanged at the Abbe Deschamps Stadium following Saturday's victory over Hearts.

Auxerre - still searching for their first Group A win and labouring in 13th place in their domestic league - were without the suspended Stephane Grichting.

But the home side were first to threaten and, when Jelen held off Brahim Hemdani, the Polish striker forced an excellent, one-handed save from Allan McGregor.

A Charlie Adam free-kick from 35 yards and an Alan Hutton back header both slipped over the crossbar as Rangers replied.

The visitors started to take control and a superb through ball from Ferguson gave Novo the chance to advance into the box.

But goalkeeper Fabien Cool blocked the powerful drive from 16 yards.

Rangers suffered a blow when Stevie Smith had to go off injured after an awkward fall.

Julien Rodriguez, back in the squad following injury, slotting in at left-back, but the loss of Smith had knocked Rangers out of their stride.

Jelen forced another fine save from McGregor after turning inside Svensson and the goalkeeper was quickly back on his feet to block Pedretti's low effort from 15 yards on the rebound.

The Pole broke the deadlock after 31 minutes when a simple long ball out of defence from Younes Kaboul evaded Hemdani and Karl Svensson.

Julen controlled the ball beautifully before driving it low into the far corner of the net from 20 yards.

Kanga Akale was next to evade a couple of challenges before curling his effort over from just inside the box.

Luigi Pieroni was next to squander a chance, heading over from 12 yards after being left unmarked at a free-kick.

Rangers created the first chance of the second half when Novo pulled down a Rodriguez cross and his powerful effort from 14 yards was blocked clear off the hands of Cool.

A Kaboul header struck the crossbar after poor marking at a corner.

But Rangers levelled after a slick passing sequence on the edge of the box broke to Novo and he poked the ball under Cool.

Niculae headed home a Jelen cross seconds after coming on as a substitute as Auxerre looked set to claim their fourth straight victory over Rangers.

However, the Glasgow side grabbed a deserved equaliser when a Hutton cross broke off a defender and Boyd showed his renowned poacher's instinct.


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European progress pleases Lennon
Neil Lennon (right)  and Paul Telfer celebrate after the victory over Man Utd
Neil Lennon (right) said he was relieved Celtic have qualified
Celtic captain Neil Lennon says "anything can happen" when the side play in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

After the win against Manchester United guaranteed qualification, Lennon said: "We will just wait for the draw and see where it takes us.

"To say I'm delighted we have finally got through is an understatement."

The SPL side know victory over Copenhagen on 6 December would see them finish top of Group F.

Celtic, Real Madrid, Valencia, Liverpool, Chelsea and Bayern Munich have already qualified for the knockout stages ahead of next month's draw.

Lennon was concerned he would finish his Celtic career without helping the club to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition for the first time.

We will just enjoy this game then focus on the Copenhagen match when it comes around in a fortnight

Neil Lennon

"I didn't want it hanging over my head that we had failed again (in the group stages) and this might never happen again," he said.

"It has been a long time coming. We will just enjoy this game then focus on the Copenhagen match when it comes around in a fortnight."

The midfielder said he was frustrated with the way Celtic played in the first half when Manchester United failed to make their superiority count.

"I was angry with the way we were passing the ball in the first half," said Lennon.

"We were playing little square passes which put players in trouble and that is not like us at all.

"We knew they would have a lot of possession. The pleasing thing was the only time they got into the box in the first half was when Cristiano Ronaldo got through and that came from a mistake by us.

"But we made the changes and that made a big difference."


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