Rangers midfielder Ian Black was angry with referee Craig Thomson for not sending off Scott Brown – and claimed that if the roles had been reversed in their clash near the end of the game then he’d have walked.
“Scott’s challenge was naughty but I’ll take it,” he said of the incident, which sparked a rammy in the centre of the pitch involving all but the goalkeepers and resulted in the Celtic captain being yellow-carded.
“I went to the referee and I think if he was a bit of a man and it had happened earlier in the game then Scott would have been up the tunnel,” added Black. “But it was the end of the match and I felt he bottled it. It was a cop-out. And I know 100 per cent that if it had been me then I’d have walked and everyone would have lapped it up.” Black stressed there were no hard feelings with Brown over the clash. “I shook his hand at the end and congratulated him,” said Black. “I know him off the park and he’s a good lad. I enjoyed going up against him, he’s a good player, an international player, and I thought we both competed well. I look forward to maybe more of these battles. You want to compete at the top level and this is where we’re trying to get to. As soon as we get there we can enjoy more games like this and it can be great.”
But there was glumness within the Rangers camp over their first-half performance and the goals they conceded in that period. “We were very disappointed with the way we lost the goals and in the end they cost us,” said Black. “We gifted them two crap goals and if we hadn’t conceded them in the manner we did then it could have been a different story.
“I don’t think the gulf between the sides was as big as many people said. You’ve got to give Celtic credit for the win and we’ve got to respect them but we don’t fear anyone and we certainly competed. It was down to mistakes – free headers and slack defending.”
Rangers goalkeeper Steve Simonsen, who’s been charged by the SFA with betting on football matches, insisted the accusations had not affected his preparations for the game. “I’ve been fine,” he said. “I’ve had issues but I can’t and won’t discuss them right now. I’ve had plenty to concentrate on to keep my mind off things and I’ll continue to do that until I’m hauled up in front of the boys here in a couple of weeks.
“It hasn’t been hard to prepare; these are the type of games every player wants to be involved in. It’s been good having this on the horizon – you can get away from anything else that’s going on. I’m delighted to have been involved in my first Old Firm game, the atmosphere was fantastic from start to finish, but obviously I’m disappointed with the result.”
Simonsen got a hand to Kris Commons’ shot for the second goal but couldn’t keep it out. “You can never be ready for anything like that,” he said. “I know all about Kris, he’s got two fantastic feet, he can hit the ball from anywhere. It fell nicely for him and he hit a good strike, so fair play to him.
“We were under a lot of pressure first-half. We said beforehand we’d need to keep it tight for as long as we could. We knew Celtic would come out of the traps really quick having watched many DVDs of them over the last week and they certainly didn’t disappoint in that respect. They closed us down quickly and we found it hard to get out.
“The worst part of it was we found ourselves a couple of goals down after half an hour. You’ve got a mountain to climb in any game if you give the opposition two goals. We were still in the game if we’d got a goal but we were disappointed we couldn’t really create anything and couldn’t really trouble them much. We had our moments but overall it was a disappointing afternoon.”