Olivier Ntcham strike gives Celtic derby victory
Scottish Premiership, Celtic Park - Celtic 1 (Ntcham 62') Rangers 0
Steven Gerrard suffered his first loss as Rangers manager as his side fell to a one-goal defeat to Celtic in the first Old Firm derby of the season.
Olivier Ntcham finished off a fine Celtic counter mid-way through the second-half to give Brendan Rodgers' side victory over their greatest rivals, though the narrow margin didn't reflect the home side's dominance.
The scores were still level at the half-time break as Celtic failed to breach Rangers' resilient defence - James Forrest went closest with a speculative effort which deflected onto the crossbar, while Odsonne Edouard spurned a glorious chance, the Frenchman heading straight at Allan McGregor from a few yards out.
Celtic Park, Glasgow, Britain - September 2, 2018 Celtic's Scott Brown is shown a yellow card by referee William CollumReuters
The second-half followed a similar pattern to the first-period with Celtic carving out the better opportunities and they finally opened the scoring in the 62nd minute when Ntcham put the finishing touches to a nice move after a mazy run from Tom Rogic.
Rangers' response was positive as they threw players forward in search of an equaliser without any joy, Alfredo Morelos mustering up the best chance but his effort from distance was comfortably saved by Craig Gordon, as Celtic held on for their third victory of the season.
The win moves them up to third in the Scottish Premiership, while Rangers remain seventh with five points from their first four games. It was Gerrard's first defeat in 13 matches.
A sign of improvement from Rangers: Last season Celtic hammered their rivals 4-0 and 5-0 in two contests completely dominated by Rodgers' side. The Scottish champions played in a similar manner here, controlling possession and creating numerous chances, but the difference is that this Rangers team now believe in themselves - they can be resilient and they can defend successfully as a unit.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers shakes the hand of Rangers manager Steven Gerrard before the matchReuters
The quality between the two teams is, clearly, still evident - Rangers still have an awful long way to go to return to their glory days, but today we saw that Gerrard has at least closed the gap, even slightly.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Allan McGregor (Rangers): Was well protected by his defence but the Rangers shot-stopper was alert when called upon, making a number of fine saves to keep his side in the game.
Celtic Park, Glasgow, Britain - September 2, 2018 Celtic's Callum McGregor fouls Rangers' Allan McGregorReuters
Rangers: McGregor 8, Tavernier 6, Goldson 7, Katic 7, Barisic 7, Jack 6, Ejaria 6, Arfield 6, Kent 6, Lafferty 6, Morelos 6. Subs: Middleton 5, Candeias 5.
33' - OFF THE CROSSBAR! Mightily close to the opener! Beautiful control from Forrest who then whacks a half-volley with the outside of his boot from 30 yards and is only denied by the woodwork. Replays show Rangers' Jack got the slightest of touches with his head which may have proved crucial.
39' - CHANCE! Tierney feeds McGregor who swings in an inch-perfect cross to the unmarked Eduoard at the back post. The Celtic forward simply must score but he heads straight at McGregor from point-blank range.
49' - WHAT A SAVE! Dear me, McGregor! The Rangers' shot-stopper gets down low to deflect Ntcham's awkward shot onto the crossbar and then reacts quickest to gather the loose ball. Excellent goalkeeping.
62' - GOAL! Celtic 1-0 Rangers: It has been coming, Celtic lead Rangers in the first Old Firm derby of the season! It's a classic goal on the counter-attack, finished off by Ntcham. The credit must go to Rogic who carried the ball half the length of the pitch before feeding Forrest who unselfishly squares it to Ntcham for a tap-in. But was there a foul in the build-up? Gerrard feels Jack was fouled by Rogic to start the attack.
Olivier Ntcham of Celtic celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park Stadium on September 2, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland.Getty Images
69' - RANGERS CHANCE! A rare opportunity for the visitors as they look to peg their rivals back immediately. It's good work from Morelos who out-muscles Boyata on the flank before leathering a powerful effort at goal, forcing Gordon into his first meaningful save of the day.
- Celtic are currently on their longest unbeaten streak over Rangers in the Scottish Premiership, going 10 games without a loss (W8 D2).
- Rangers have not beaten Celtic since their return to the Scottish Premiership in 2016 (D2 L7). They last beat the Hoops in the competition at Ibrox in March 2012 (3-2).