SPL: Rangers and Celtic Battle for Title

Andrew McNairSenior Writer IApril 6, 2008

Last week’s Old Firm Derby victory for Rangers sent the blue half of Glasgow six points clear of Celtic, at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

Both sides had gone into the game with impressive recent records, Rangers with 12 league wins on the trot and Celtic undefeated in 12. Rangers' 1-0 win pushed that record out to 13 straight wins.

In fact Rangers have lost only one of their last 25 games, and that was 1-0 away to Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup. That defeat was still enough for Rangers to advance to the quarter finals and by no means dented the Rangers spirit. 

The Gers midweek draw in the first leg of the UEFA Cup quarter final did however start to show the greatest threat to Rangers season, fatigue!

The light blues were running on empty come the final minutes and were more than happy to settle for 0-0 against Sporting Lisbon. 

Rangers still have a potential 17 games over the next six weeks. If they progress to the finals of the UEFA and Scottish Cup’s in their aim for an unprecedented quadruple.  

Boss Walter Smith will have to take a leaf out of Sir Alex Ferguson or Rafa Benitez’ book and apply a bit of squad rotation to see Rangers at least complete the illustrious Scottish treble.

The Ibrox men already have the CIS Insurance Cup in the trophy room thanks to the Kris Boyd show last month.

So to this weekend, where Celtic were desperate to keep the pressure on Rangers ahead of the first of two Old Firm ties at Celtic Park next Wednesday. 

Motherwell travelled to Parkhead on Saturday to meet Celtic in the crucial encounter. Sadly for Celtic in what must be one of the worst results of the season they were humbled 1-0 by Motherwell. 

Simon Lappin’s first half goal was enough to see off the Bhoys despite Motherwell playing virtually the whole second half with ten men!

Former Ranger Bob Malcolm was sent off which must have at least brought some amusement to the home crowd. 

Motherwell are arguably the best footballing side in the league and are a real pleasure to watch. That win moves Motherwell up into a deserved third place and a UEFA Cup spot is once again theirs to lose.

The result has left Celtic a potential 12 points off the pace with Rangers having two games in hand. Gordon Strachan must now hope for some serious favours from other SPL sides, starting with Dundee United, as they welcomed Rangers to Tannadice on Sunday. 

Rangers made a few changes from Thursday night with Kris Boyd, Nacho Novo, Christian Dailly and Steven Whittaker being drafted into the side. 

Dundee United opened the scoring with Christian Kalvenes bundling home a goal mouth scramble in the 37th minute. Their lead lasted a matter of minutes as Rangers veteran David Weir headed home the equalizer just before half time. 

The Tangerines went in front again on 51 minutes thanks to a Sean Dillon goal. In an amazing repeat of the League Cup Final, Rangers drew level again with Nacho Novo scoring for the Gers seven minutes later. 

Carlos Cueller completed a dodgy afternoon for the Rangers defence by gifting United the lead once again, but the own goal was almost instantly cancelled out by Rangers goal scoring wonder Kris Boyd.

Dundee United were easily the better side over the 90 minutes but Rangers showed great resilience in fighting back three times to gain what could be a crucial point.

Rangers are now seven points clear of the green half of Glasgow. 

The game was a brilliant advertisement for Scottish football. A classic match! 

In other results, Inverness Caledonian Thistle have ended their seven game losing streak by beating troubled Gretna 2-1 away from home. 

Edinburgh outfit Hibernian (fourth in the league) beat lowly St Mirren 2-0 while their local rival’s Hearts drew 0-0 with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. 

Aberdeen face Falkirk in a Monday night fixture at Pittodrie with Falkirk aiming to secure their top half finish ahead of the Dons.

That brings us to the end of my SPL update. I’m hoping to spark some interest in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League here on Bleacher Report. 

Can Celtic stop the Rangers express train?