Rangers reaction: Philippe Clement's Celtic 'moral victory', gripe with law and Scottish assistant's word for first-half display

The Ibrox boss was delighted with the way his team fought back against Celtic

Rangers manager Philippe Clement declared his team to be “moral winners” after a gripping Old Firm derby at Ibrox against Celtic finished 3-3.

Rangers recovered from trailing 2-0 at the interval following Daizen Maeda’s 21-second opener for Celtic and then a penalty from Matt O’Riley. The hosts’ James Tavernier netted his own spot-kick at the start of the second period before Abdallah Sima levelled on 86 minutes. Celtic had looked to have secured the win just minutes later when Adam Idah netted but, at the start of stoppage time, Rabbi Matondo fired home an exquisite equaliser to ensure a share of the spoils.

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As a result, Celtic remain top of the Premiership by a point, but should Rangers win their game in hand at Dundee on Wednesday, then they will go into the final six matches of the season top of the pile. Clement believes the manner of his team’s comeback will be important for his players as title race enters the home straight.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement hailed his team's comeback against Celtic.Rangers manager Philippe Clement hailed his team's comeback against Celtic.
Rangers manager Philippe Clement hailed his team's comeback against Celtic.

“I was not so happy about the beginning, clearly,” said Clement. “My Scottish assistant has a word for that, that I better not use in a press conference! It is the worst start you can have in an Old Firm game, to go behind after one minute. Also in the way we went behind. That is a big blow in that moment for the team, for the fans. Afterwards, we didn’t go down but we were not good enough on the ball.

“Then second half we showed our real face. We showed the real things that I want to see, this never stopping team that has a lot of resilience, a lot of hunger, desire, to change the result. To do the right thing, to create chances not give away chances. Then became a crazy scenario, for the scenario that I wanted. Not with the 2-2 and then the 3-2 of course, but deserve and clearly deserve at least a point today with what we have shown.

“I think at the end we are moral winners of this afternoon because a few months ago, for sure not this team could have reacted after 2-0 in an Old Firm. I don’t know if many teams in the past could have done it. It is a hard thing in a very important game to go 2-0 behind to also feel the disappointment of your fans when you go into the dressing room to turn that around. Because of that I am really proud of my boys.”

Clement was disappointed to concede a penalty for a handball against Connor Goldson, although he laid the blame at the doors of lawmakers rather than the officials. “I think every manager in the world, every player in the world wants this rule to be changed,” he claimed. “I know with the rule it is a penalty now but if a ball is brought in at that speed in front of goal and it is touched by the head and is deflected and you jump up at that moment and you want to take your arm away but it touches your arm, with the rules now it is a penalty. So nothing to say about the decision of the referee or the VAR but everyone who is playing football says too many penalties are given in that way.”

Matondo, who has been at times a maligned figure at Rangers, was the hero with his stunning strike after coming off the bench and Clement was delighted that coaching work with the Welshman is paying off. “For me it was on of the things which Rabbi missed before from his game,” added the Belgian. “He had chances to shoot and show his qualities and missed too many opportunities like that. It is really difficult to defend with his speed and agility, but there needs to be an end product and that’s crucial.

“So I am really happy that it’s not the first time because in the last game he scored another goal like that against Hibs. He is now understanding this part of the game and the game is about so many details. It’s our task as a coaching staff to teach them details they never thought about before. So I am really happy for him and for the team.”



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