Steven Gerrard oversaw the most telling victory yet in his quest to tilt Scottish football’s balance of power back in Rangers’ favour as his players deservedly claimed their club’s first win at Celtic Park since 2010.
The last Old Firm showdown of the current decade saw goals from Ryan Kent and Nikola Katic, either side of Odsonne Edouard’s equaliser for Celtic, reduce the Scottish champions’ lead at the top of the Premiership to just two points.
Rangers, who also have a game in hand, will now go into the winter break fuelled with conviction that this is the season when they can break their great rivals’ unprecedented domestic dominance.
As ever, there was no shortage of controversy and flashpoints on an afternoon which saw Rangers top scorer Alfredo Morelos sent off in stoppage time.
Celtic were far from their best as they lost a home league fixture to anyone for the first time since May 2018 and could have few complaints as Rangers gained a measure of revenge for their defeat in the League Cup Final between the sides at the start of the month.
Rangers started the contest in the same manner they adopted at Hampden three weeks earlier, looking to play on the front foot and doing so with composure and cohesion.
Celtic were similarly as slow out of the blocks as they were in that cup final, making it an anxious beginning to the afternoon for the home support.
As the visitors dominated possession in the opening half hour, they probed intelligently for a breakthrough with their first opening coming in the ninth minute when Joe Aribo glided clear of Boli Bolingoli down the right. The Nigerian international was unable to pick out Kent’s run into the penalty area with his cross which was safely gathered by Fraser Forster.
A more direct approach from Rangers captain James Tavernier brought Morelos into the action but the striker couldn’t get the long through ball under control and was then penalised and warned for climbing over Scott Brown in his efforts to retrieve it.
Morelos did better with a neat turn and shot as he latched onto another Tavernier pass but it was a relatively comfortable save for Forster.
Celtic appeared hesitant at this stage and were struggling to find any rhythm. Ryan Christie mustered their first attempt at goal in the 19th minute but his 22 yard shot flew well over the target.
Rangers continued to look the likelier side and Forster made a sharp save with his feet to keep out a snapshot from Steven Davis after a Kent corner had caused confusion in the home defence.
Celtic’s best move yet saw them work the ball fluently to Mikey Johnston on the left in the 27th minute and from the winger’s cross, Christie attempted an elaborate flick which cleared Allan McGregor’s crossbar.
It sparked a much better spell for Lennon’s side and Connor Goldson - outstanding throughout at the heart of Gerrard’s defence - had to make a timely interception to prevent Christie getting a shot away after Ryan Jack had lost possession cheaply for Rangers.
Celtic were handed the opportunity to take the lead from the spot in the 33rd minute when Katic foolishly tugged Christopher Jullien’s shirt at a corner. Christie stepped forward to take the kick but saw his effort brilliantly saved by McGregor diving to his left.
Rangers remained under concerted pressure for the first time and Davis had to boot clear off the line after Jullien had risen to meet Christie’s corner with a firm header.
But just as Celtic appeared to be seizing the initiative, it was Rangers who struck first with a well worked and superbly taken goal. A fine move freed Borna Barisic down the left and the full-back’s precise low cross was swept home first time by Kent, his firm shot beating Forster via the inside of his right hand post.
Celtic responded with another sustained spell of possession in the Rangers half and were back on level terms five minutes later. There was more than an element of fortune to the goal, although Rangers’ complaints about it could not mask their slackness on the ball in the build-up to it.
It allowed Callum McGregor to break free and fire in the shot which struck the unwitting Edouard on his left hand, the deflection completely wrong-footing Allan McGregor as the ball nestled in the net.
Gerrard waited at the mouth of the tunnel to speak to referee Clancy at half-time, clearly feeling Celtic’s goal should have been disallowed.
As Rangers resumed on the offensive after the break, Morelos missed a snip of a chance to break his Old Firm scoring duck when he shot over from close range after being picked out by Keny’s cross.
But the visitors were rewarded for their continued progressiveness when they regained the lead in the 56th minute. It came from a disputed corner, Celtic claiming a Rangers player had got the final touch before the ball went out of play.
Regardless of its legitimacy, however, Celtic could only look at themselves for allowing Katic a free header from Barisic’s perfect delivery, leaving Forster helpless.
Celtic roused themselves again, Davis again clearing off the line from Jullien and McGregor making a good save to keep out a Bolingoli shot, but their pursuit of a second equaliser too often lacked fluency or imagination.
Lennon made a double substitution, introducing Nir Bitton and Leigh Griffiths and switching to a 3-5-2 formation in a bid to salvage the situation.
The closest they came to rescuing a point was in stoppage time, Jullien heading wide from a Griffiths corner.
When Morelos wrote the latest page in his impossibly dramatic Rangers story, picking up his second yellow card for simulation under a Jeremie Frimpong challenge just a few minutes after his first caution for a foul on Brown, it was too late for Celtic to take advantage of facing 10 men.
Tempers flared briefly in the technical area, with Rangers coach Michael Beale sent to the stand and confronting Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy before he went up the tunnel.
But the most significant argument of the day had been won by Rangers who now have a powerful voice in the outcome of a compelling title race.