Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink's stoppage-time winner rescued Celtic's Scottish Premier League title hopes from certain oblivion Wednesday night just as it seemed that 10-man Rangers would hold on for a point that would all but guarantee the title's return to Ibrox. Celtic's 2-1 win reduced the gap at the top to one point, but Rangers still has two games in hand. And while that certainly gives their Glasgow rivals the advantage, Celtic still has an opportunity to claw back three more points when it hosts Rangers again in 10 days.
The first Old Firm match to be played at
night in the SPL for eight years was a typically acrimonious affair. Shunsuke Nakamura put the hosts ahead in the 20th minute. The Japanese international collected a bouncing ball from about 30
yards and unleashed a fantastic dipping, swerving shot with his left foot that left Rangers keeper Alan McGregor McGregor with absolutely no chance. Then, 10 minutes into the second half,
substitute Nacho Novo brought the visitors level with a hard-struck, low diagonal shot from a tight angle.
With 20 minutes to go, Nakamura once again beat McGregor, only for defender
Carlos Cuellar to save the ball on the line with his hands, prompting an automatic red card and a penalty kick, which a visibly injured McGregor would save. Celtic kept pressing forward, and just
when the match looked to be over, Vennegoor of Hesselink latched onto a fantastic crossfield header from Scott McDonald to head home the game winner.