An emotional Steven Gerrard hailed Rangers’ first victory at Celtic Park in nine years as the best result of his managerial career so far.
Goals from Ryan Kent and Nikola Katic secured a 2-1 win for the Ibrox club who are now just two points behind Celtic at the top of the Premiership table and with a game in hand.
Gerrard has made significant improvements and progress since taking charge of Rangers 18 months ago, including two consecutive Europa League group stage appearances and a place in the last 32 of that competition this season.
But the former Liverpool and England captain admits overseeing Rangers’ first triumph at the home of their greatest rivals since October 2010 tops the lot.
“It feels the best right now,” said Gerrard. “I don’t want to take anything away from the fact we have just come out of a Champions League-level group to qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League.
“But Celtic are a fantastic team. You only have to look at what they have achieved in recent years. They have serial winners in their team. This is a big challenge for me and the players but we are doing everything we can to take the challenge to them. That’s what we need to keep doing.
“It’s emotional today. You can see that by my reaction after the game. It’s a big moment for the team and the club. It’s been through too much pain here, too many defeats and setbacks and knocks, so it’s a big win, a huge win.
“We’ve come here and dominated against a very good team, a successful team, a team that we’ve got respect for because of what they’ve achieved. But I’m so proud and pleased with the performance the players have put in.
“Celtic took a trophy away from us three weeks ago in a League Cup Final that we dominated. But we came away with huge belief from that game. It felt different. We weren’t too down over losing at Hampden because we were so pleased with the performance and that’s why we’ve come here and taken the game to Celtic. We got a lot of joy from it today.”
Rangers were in a similarly promising position 12 months ago when they beat Celtic 1-0 at Ibrox in the final league game before the winter break but were unable to carry that momentum into the second half of the campaign, finishing nine points behind the eight-in-a-row Scottish champions.
Gerrard will now challenge his squad, who head to Dubai for warm weather training, to avoid a repeat.
“We can enjoy tonight and enjoy the big victory but there’s still loads of work to do,” added the Rangers manager. “We know we’re competing against good teams. We won’t look at the table too much.
“A defeat here would have been damaging, a draw would have been ‘ on you go’ and a win is big momentum for us and it’s important that we rest, enjoy the little break and come back with a better mentality after the break than we came back with last year."