Celtic 1-0 Rangers: Lee hits later winner to blow open SWPL title race

Celtic inflicted a second Old Firm defeat of the campaign on Malky Thomson’s Rangers to close the gap on their rivals.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 21: Sarah Teegarden (front) competes for the ball in the air during a SWPL match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park, on April 21, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

An 80th-minute strike from American striker Mariah Lee was enough to snatch all three points for Fran Alonso’s side, as the Scottish Women’s Premier League title race was blown wide open.

Celtic are the only team to take points off Rangers this season, and, although they rode their luck at times, the home side put in a solid defensive display.

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Defender Caitlin Hayes, the player of the match, said: “It’s just hard work and determination. We had a bit of a chip on our shoulders because we know people had written us off already. Hopefully, we’ve set the record straight and show that we’re ready to compete for that top spot.”

Gers head coach Thomson kept faith with the side that beat Hibs Women 1-0 on Sunday, while Ghirls boss Fran Alonso made only one change to the side that thrashed Spartans 5-1 at the weekend, as Irish international Keeva Keenan replaced Jacynta Galabadaarachchi.

In an opening 10 minutes that was dominated by Rangers’ possession, Thomson’s side suffered a huge blow when an innocuous- looking challenge on the 15-minute mark led to free-scoring forward Kirsty Howat being stretchered off injured.

Rangers responded well, however, and should have been ahead on 26 minutes when Kirsten Reilly’s superb diagonal ball released Rachael McLauchlan to cross, only to see Emma Brownlie fire agonisingly over the bar from just four yards out.

The Blue Belles went close again just ten minutes later when the electric pace of Brogan Hay presented Sam Kerr with a great opportunity, but her drive sailed harmlessly over the Hoops bar.

In a rare forage forward, from Celtic’s Rachel Donaldson tested Jenna Fife in the Gers goal just before half time, as they attempted to catch Rangers cold on the counter.

The away side were unhappy early in the second period when Brownlie appeared to be tugged back after latching onto McLachlan’s pinpoint pass and there was further anguish for the away side moments later when Bala Devi latched onto Kerr’s knockdown, only to see her close-range shot ping back off the underside of the Celtic bar. Reilly was next to go close, her 25-yard drive rattling the Hoops crossbar again on 61 minutes, with the away side fully in the ascendancy.

Just as it looked like the game was heading for a 0-0 draw, Chloe Warrington stole the ball in her own half before releasing substitute Lee. Scotland international goalkeeper Jenna Fife managed to halt the onrushing forward temporarily, but Lee recovered well to place home her first goal in green and white. The goal was a bitter blow to Rangers and their quest to end Glasgow City’s 13-year reigning as champions. As for Celtic, their second Old Firm win in a row has dragged themselves back into the mix.

Celtic: Logan, Keenan (Atkinson), Bartle, Craig, Robertson, Ewens, Donaldson (Lee), Teegarden (Clark), Hayes, Filbey, Warrington.

Rangers: Fife, Docherty, Brownlie (Cornet), Westrup, McLauchlan, Hay, Reilly (O’Neill), Kerr, Swaby, Arnot, Howat (Devi).


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