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Rams snatch dramatic tie against Blues

Derby sub Krystian Bielik returns after a year to level late and give Wayne Rooney's Rams a draw with Birmingham. (Author: Gardener)

Krystian BielikWayne Rooney's Derby County, two goals down, drew 2-2 for the second time this month as Championship-bottomed Birmingham City stunned. But youngster Luke Plange gave Derby hope in the 87th minute as he showed remarkable coolness from the angle to beat two men and lure a beauty home with a right foot. Then, six minutes into stoppage time, substitute Krystian Bielik returned from a year out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury and scored the late equaliser. It could have been disallowed, either for Richard Stearman's header from offside or the Polish midfielder's dangerous finish with an overhead kick that almost hit Blues defender Teden Mengi's head. It was payback for Blues, who fought back even from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Peterborough in midweek. But regardless of the legitimacy of the equaliser, he potentially made up for a derby penalty before retiring a goal. Home team leader Tom Lawrence was denied by the unintentionally extended hand of loaned Manchester United defender Mengi. Blues, whose own fans protested their owners just 10 days ago, may feel some empathy for the current uncertain plight of the Derby for sale. But they should have completed this game. They went 1-0 up in the seventh minute as Onel Hernandez beat veteran blues boy Curtis Davies to find his new signing Taylor on the left side of the box. The former Nottingham Forest forward opened his body to finish a right lateral foot finish that dodged Nathan Byrne's feeble challenge and curled into Ryan Allsop's left post. Taylor was denied a second by Derby keeper Allsop at the far post but the Blues were worth their lead at half-time and although Hogan missed two more good chances they looked to have sealed the win with a second in the 56th minute. Ryan Woods floated in a beautiful ball from the right, Hogan made an unguarded run near the post and although he scraped his finish it was a good connection to get past Allsop and find the bottom corner. But for all their struggles this season and after the departure of five players so far in the January window, Rams boss Rooney has created an undeniable spirit at Pride Park with his back against the wall. Once again they showed it here to take a point. The only downside was Bielik, who has had an injury nightmare since coming to Derby with two ACLs, fell heavily on his shoulder on his goal and may have sustained further damage from putting his body on the line. "That's a character I inculcated in these players. They represent me, not just the club. We were lucky to take a point. Effort and determination got us a point. It could be a big point. But none Player." will go 100%. On Krystian Bielik's injury: "I'm not 100% sure of the extent. But we can get through with the players we have." "It's so frustrating. Of course it hurts, but the game should have been over "You shouldn't have been in the game. But Derby is fighting for their lives and when you concede like we did on Tuesday night it lifts the crowd." The song "We are Derby County, we'll fight to the end" has never been more apt. Four hours ago sung by fans fighting to save their club, it was done again after the final whistle as the Rams players made their memorable comeback.Nobody expected these numbersthe marched from downtown to the stadium.The line stretched along the Pride Parkway as far as the eye could see and took a full 10 minutes to get by.If a statement was needed about how much this football club means to its community,then it was.There was no anger, just determination and a desire to say something. In truth, these fans cannot decide what happens to their club now.

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Wayne Rooney's fighters are fueling Derby County's Extermination Rebellion with an exciting comeback

And they did so here amidst emotional scenes at Pride Park. Two-zero deficit, three minutes of regular time remaining (Author: Gardener)

Wayne Rooney'sThey are Derby County, they will fight to the end. Trailing 2-0 with three minutes to go, Wayne Rooney's side showed their resilience to take a valuable point with goals from Luke Plange and Krystian Bielik contributing an overhead the admins won't mind. "We kept pushing, we kept fighting," Rooney said. His name was sung loud and proud by Derby fans, whose admiration for their manager was met by his desire to stay and fight for them during the administration's stasis and threatened obliteration after chronic financial mismanagement and excesses during the Mel Morris era was deepened. Whatever fate befalls Derby, his reputation as a substance manager has been strengthened. During his playing days at Everton, Manchester United, DC United and Derby, Rooney occasionally sat down and spoke at length about the game. In these extremely challenging circumstances, Rooney is now turning those thoughts into tactical action and his late changes have turned the tide. Rooney said his team reflects how he used to play the game. With players leaving at short notice, Rooney's team plans are always in flux. It is not uncommon for him to have to change his line-up three or four times before a game. But the Merseysider, 36, is a strong character and his team reflects that. He questioned the quality of their performance here, particularly in the first half when Derby gave away the ball too often, but praised the spirited nature of their players. "That's a character that I taught these players, a mentality," Rooney said. “These players represent both me and the club, how I played, my character. It was difficult to instill that mentality in players who played U18 and U23 football. There are academy guys who stand up and fight for the club. I'm so proud of these players for what they do.” It wasn't just the will that Rooney kept instilling in his players, nor the changes he made and fighting for a point that confirmed that Derby lives and kicks. It was also the river of humanity flowing towards Pride Park at noon. Up to 4,000 Derby fans marched from the city center before kick-off against Birmingham and the march was as organized as it was defiant. Founding members of the Football League and two-time English champions, Derby are facing oblivion with their supporters howling at the prospect and marching in protest. Bielik completes Derby's comeback deep in injury time with his spectacular overhead kick. The sight of them putting up a fight against a street-wise Birmingham side will surely have impressed potential owners who will have seen the late rally and the 32,211 spectators. The river is full of Derby passion. Likewise sulphurous chants about the EFL, which Derby fans have found a hindrance, and Morris, the despised owner whose spending has left the club in such debt. They found little sympathy from the well-organized Birmingham players, who scored within seven minutes. Ryan Woods lobbed the ball forward, Curtis Davies misjudged his header, Onel Hernandez recycled the ball and Lyle Taylor found a low shot over Ryan Allsop. They found no sympathy from the arriving fans. "We'll all have a party when Derby County dies," chanted the crowd in the quadrant. Derby deserve their points deductions for the financial excesses that have also prompted legal action against Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers, but they don't deserve the threat of extinction. No club does. It is for this reason that Birmingham fans themselves railed against their owners, Birmingham Sports Holding Ltd, and carried a banner that read 'BSHL & CO - You are not fit for purpose. You're ruining our club. After a period when European Super League and Project Big Picture clubs threatened the pyramid and the pandemic continued to rock clubs, the game needs more united and concerted action, certainly from the EFL, to protect all clubs. Tracey Crouch's call for an independent regulator to scrutinize owners has been given even more legitimacy and urgency by events in Derby, Bury, Birmingham and elsewhere. All clubs are worth fighting for. "As there are no Premier League games today, our game is live on Sky and in other countries, it's almost a reminder that this club is huge, the fan base is huge and there is a future," Rooney said. “We give everything we can on the pitch. Rooney celebrates his side's point with Liam Rosenior, his assistant, at Pride Park Pride Park's DJ played I am the Resurrection by the Stone Roses during the break, followed by Bon Jovi's Keep the Faith. Derby fans did, even as Birmingham scored again after 56 minutes. "We'll fight to the end," chanted the derby fans. In keeping with Rooney's nature, Derby pulled one back with three minutes to go when 19-year-old Luke Plange turned and rolled an unstoppable shot past Neil Etheridge. Then, seconds from time, Bielik hit with a great overhead kick, sparking wild celebrations. Bielik played his first game in a year after suffering a cruciate ligament injury and unfortunately injured his shoulder after a goal. Derby fans chanted about Rooney and Bielik. “That the fans leave the stadium with optimism, hope and pride. we can do that," Rooney said. "I think we have the quality, the mix of experience and youth, to stay in this division." If Derby stays up after 21 points have been deducted, it will be the greatest escape. One thing is certain, as a team and club, Derby will fight to the end. Derby County (4-3-2-1): R Allsop 7 - N Byrne 7, R Stearman 6, C Davies 6, C Forsyth 4 (C Kazim-Richards 57, 6) - J Knight 7, M Bird 5, L Thompson 5 (K Bielik 69, 7) — K Jozwiak 6 (F Ebosele 41, 7), T Lawrence 8 — L Plange 6.

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on and off the pitch

Derby County fans – and players – were in a fighting mood on Sunday as they spoke out on and off the pitch. (Author: Gardener)

Derby CountyDerby County: Fans protest and team shows struggle in battle to save club and avoid relegationDerbyDerby have had 21 points deducted this season but Wayne Rooney's side are making a valiant attempt to stay in the championship at Pride Parkway. "We're Derby County, we'll fight to the end," they sang. Many drove their cars to the stadium and then walked back into the city center to meet in the meeting rooms for the 11:30 start last. A Football League extension means the club's administrators have another month to prove they have sufficient financial evidence to see them through to the end of the season, a home game against Cardiff City on Saturday 7 May . The expectation is somehow they will make it. There is no end in sight to the derby fans' turmoil since owner Mel Morris placed the club under management in September. He was no longer willing to fund the escalating debt which, even if 'compressed' and only a percentage offered, still leaves a potential owner considering a £70million investment for a club likely to be in next season fans have many aspirations for their club in the state it is in. There is Morris, whose ambition to lead the Rams to the Premier League has not faltered despite numerous breaches of football's financial rules. There's also the Football League to rule that Middlesbrough and Wycombe's £60million compensation claims, if proven, would be seen as a football debt and would have to be paid in full. And there's Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson, who believes Derby's accounting practices robbed his club of a play-off spot and potential promotion to the top flight in 2019. But as much as the march was an attack on those who they felt were doing their club down, this was really about supporting a football club. Thousands demonstrated in support of their association. Generations of fans peacefully asserted their point of view. Everyone walked behind a banner that read: "Founder Member of the Football League. 138 years of football heritage. Save Derby County.” Inside the floor revealed a capacity of 32,000. Almost everyone supported the team, although as it was football the Birmingham fans chanted 'we'll have a party when Derby County dies' after the 2-0 lead. It seemed a bit odd as there are many issues at St Andrew's that should have created some sort of kinship, even among Midlands rivals. Wayne Rooney was called in for an interview for the Everton manager's job but declined the opportunity given how the game was unfolding in Derby's season as a whole. It was quite unbelievable that Polish defender Krystian Bielik, whose £8million move from Arsenal in 2019 caused one of the "football debts" Derby must pay in full, scored the equalizer in added time and in the act of celebrating suffer a shoulder injury severe enough to be helped off the field. Rooney's roster included four teenagers. One of them, Luke Plange, scored the opening goal of Derby's comeback 2-0 with three minutes remaining, and another, Malcolm Ebiowei, who has never played a first-team game is not easy, the hero is straightforward. Wayne Rooney has handled the season so far with immense professionalism. His status was already high in the eyes of Derby fans even before he confirmed on Friday that he had turned down an opportunity to speak to youth club Everton about his manager's job. His name was chanted at regular intervals on the march and hundreds of fans waited until well after the final whistle to celebrate Manchester United and England's record goalscorer as Rooney conducted his post-match interview off the pitch. "Things happen for a reason," Rooney said. “There were no Premier League games this weekend and our game was on Sky. It was almost a reminder that this is a huge club with a huge fan base. I know the admins are working hard for this. The people above me, Middlesbrough, Wycombe and the EFL, they have to be sensible. People's livelihoods are at stake.” What happens now? will formally confirm their offers pending more clarity on Middlesbrough and Wycombe's claims. This is clearly a major stumbling block. However, there are others. HMRC are owed £28million and while there are hopes a deal can be struck to reduce that liability, it is yet to be agreed. And then there is the stadium. His sale of Derby to Morris has sparked much resentment around the club despite being ruled in line with EFL rules and other clubs have followed the same strategy to create greater spending flexibility. However, this means that the stadium is not part of the management process. But if he wanted to, Morris could strike a private deal with MSD and a third party for the stadium, which would significantly reduce the football club's value. The published minutes say Morris has given "assurances" regarding the sale, but BBC Sport has been told that Morris has had non-worker representatives at meetings between potential buyers and the administrators, as his status as stadium owner allows. And while there's no doubt Morris has lost more than £100million through his ownership of Derby, some are wondering if he should now offer to pay off some of MSD's liability to bring the club's overall price down, which, apart of the situations at Middlesbrough and Wycombe, is perceived as prohibitive. Sunday was a reminder that what will happen on and off the pitch in the coming months is far from certain. But for now, derby fans can take solace in knowing their team, having deducted 21 points, are just seven points from surviving the championship and battling all the way. Your supporters will continue to do so. What are the biggest rumors as the deadline approaches? Would you like to book a holiday this year? Here are some do's and don'ts for booking your overseas travel NFL Conference Championships: Bengals beat Chiefs in overtime to reach the Super Bowl; Building on Rams-49ers Elsewhere on the BBC'I was a millionaire and I wanted to kill myself'Paul Merson talks about his gambling addiction and explores why footballers are more prone to itHow to follow your Premier League team on the BBCEverything you need to know to make sure you don't miss a moment. The latest rumors and stories from around the world of football. Analysis and opinions from our chief football writer. How to Get into Football How to Get into Football - the world's most popular sport with clubs and facilities across the UK.

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on and off the pitch

Derby County fans – and players – were in a fighting mood on Sunday as they spoke out on and off the pitch. (Author: Gardener)

Derby CountyDerby County: Fans protest and team shows struggle in battle to save club and avoid relegationDerbyDerby have had 21 points deducted this season but Wayne Rooney's side are making a valiant attempt to stay in the championship at Pride Parkway. "We're Derby County, we'll fight to the end," they sang. Many drove their cars to the stadium and then walked back into the city center to meet in the meeting rooms for the 11:30 start last. A Football League extension means the club's administrators have another month to prove they have sufficient financial evidence to see them through to the end of the season, a home game against Cardiff City on Saturday 7 May . The expectation is somehow they will make it. There is no end in sight to the derby fans' turmoil since owner Mel Morris placed the club under management in September. He was no longer willing to fund the escalating debt which, even if 'compressed' and only a percentage offered, still leaves a potential owner considering a £70million investment for a club likely to be in next season fans have many aspirations for their club in the state it is in. There is Morris, whose ambition to lead the Rams to the Premier League has not faltered despite numerous breaches of football's financial rules. There's also the Football League to rule that Middlesbrough and Wycombe's £60million compensation claims, if proven, would be seen as a football debt and would have to be paid in full. And there's Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson, who believes Derby's accounting practices robbed his club of a play-off spot and potential promotion to the top flight in 2019. But as much as the march was an attack on those who they felt were doing their club down, this was really about supporting a football club. Thousands demonstrated in support of their association. Generations of fans peacefully asserted their point of view. Everyone walked behind a banner that read: "Founder Member of the Football League. 138 years of football heritage. Save Derby County.” Inside the floor revealed a capacity of 32,000. Almost everyone supported the team, although as it was football the Birmingham fans chanted 'we'll have a party when Derby County dies' after the 2-0 lead. It seemed a bit odd as there are many issues at St Andrew's that should have created some sort of kinship, even among Midlands rivals. Wayne Rooney was called in for an interview for the Everton manager's job but declined the opportunity given how the game was unfolding in Derby's season as a whole. It was quite unbelievable that Polish defender Krystian Bielik, whose £8million move from Arsenal in 2019 caused one of the "football debts" Derby must pay in full, scored the equalizer in added time and in the act of celebrating suffer a shoulder injury severe enough to be helped off the field. Rooney's roster included four teenagers. One of them, Luke Plange, scored the opening goal of Derby's comeback 2-0 with three minutes remaining, and another, Malcolm Ebiowei, who has never played a first-team game is not easy, the hero is straightforward. Wayne Rooney has handled the season so far with immense professionalism. His status was already high in the eyes of Derby fans even before he confirmed on Friday that he had turned down an opportunity to speak to youth club Everton about his manager's job. His name was chanted at regular intervals on the march and hundreds of fans waited until well after the final whistle to celebrate Manchester United and England's record goalscorer as Rooney conducted his post-match interview off the pitch. "Things happen for a reason," Rooney said. “There were no Premier League games this weekend and our game was on Sky. It was almost a reminder that this is a huge club with a huge fan base. I know the admins are working hard for this. The people above me, Middlesbrough, Wycombe and the EFL, they have to be sensible. People's livelihoods are at stake.” What happens now? will formally confirm their offers pending more clarity on Middlesbrough and Wycombe's claims. This is clearly a major stumbling block. However, there are others. HMRC are owed £28million and while there are hopes a deal can be struck to reduce that liability, it is yet to be agreed. And then there is the stadium. His sale of Derby to Morris has sparked much resentment around the club despite being ruled in line with EFL rules and other clubs have followed the same strategy to create greater spending flexibility. However, this means that the stadium is not part of the management process. But if he wanted to, Morris could strike a private deal with MSD and a third party for the stadium, which would significantly reduce the football club's value. The published minutes say Morris has given "assurances" regarding the sale, but BBC Sport has been told that Morris has had non-worker representatives at meetings between potential buyers and the administrators, as his status as stadium owner allows. And while there's no doubt Morris has lost more than £100million through his ownership of Derby, some are wondering if he should now offer to pay off some of MSD's liability to bring the club's overall price down, which, apart of the situations at Middlesbrough and Wycombe, is perceived as prohibitive. Sunday was a reminder that what will happen on and off the pitch in the coming months is far from certain. But for now, derby fans can take solace in knowing their team, having deducted 21 points, are just seven points from surviving the championship and battling all the way. Your supporters will continue to do so. What are the biggest rumors as the deadline approaches? Would you like to book a holiday this year? Here are some do's and don'ts for booking your trip abroad. Vince leads England as they try to chase 180 to win T20 series against West Indies his gambling addiction and explores why footballers are more prone to itHow to follow your Premier League team on the BBCEverything you need to know to make sure Don't miss a moment.The latest rumors and stories from around the world of football.Analysis and opinion from our head football writer.How to Get into FootballHow to Get into Football - the world's most popular sport with clubs and institutions across the UK .

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Stalker 'visited Emma Raducanu's house three times'

Married Amrit Magar, 35, has traveled three times to the south-east London suburb where Miss Raducanu lives with her parents. He once drew a map of the 23 miles he had walked from Edgware. (Author: Gardener)

Emma Raducanu'sEmma Raducanu has said she no longer feels safe in her own home after a stalker visited it three times and stole her father's shoe as a "souvenir", a court heard yesterday. The 19-year-old US Open winner told police she was "constantly looking over her shoulder" after an obsessed former Amazon delivery man tracked down her address and left notes, flowers and even Christmas decorations. After seeing her unemployed on TV, married Amrit Magar, 35, traveled to the London suburb where Miss Raducanu lives with her parents and asked strangers for directions to her house. After finding the address, on one occasion he left a note saying the teenager "deserved love" and on another he drew a map depicting the 23 miles he had traveled from Edgware in north London walked in hopes of meeting her. On the most recent occasion on December 4, Magar decorated a tree in Miss Raducanu's front yard with Christmas lights and then stole a sneaker from the porch, thinking it belonged to the sports star. But it belonged to her father Ian, who recognized Magar from doorbell camera footage as someone who had previously visited the property and followed him in his car while he informed police. When arrested, Magar was found with the shoe in his pocket and told officers he "wanted a souvenir." Magar was found guilty of stalking in Bromley Magistrates' Court yesterday. In a statement read in court yesterday, Miss Raducanu said she was worried about going out alone. Speaking over the phone with officials while preparing for the Australian Open in Melbourne last month, the Grand Slam winner said: "Since all of this has happened I've felt like I've been snuck up. "Because of that, I feel like my freedom has been taken away from me. I feel nervous and worried that this might happen again. Miss Raducanu, who said she was worried "about the stress of the public knowing I had a stalker," added, "I want to move to a new house with better security because I'm worried that he could come back since he knows where my home is.' The court heard Magar first visited the Raducanu family home in south-east London on November 23. Arriving at the door with a bouquet of flowers and a note, he was confronted by Miss Raducanu's parents but said he was a delivery driver passing gifts from someone else. The note read, "Nothing to say but you deserve love" and was signed by Magar, who also added the names of his wife Bina and their dog Logan. The second time, on December 2, he dropped a red envelope into the mailbox containing a hand-drawn "map" showing the distance he had traveled from his home in Edgware to Miss Raducanu's address. One note read, "23 miles walked for you." Two days later, Magar revisited the property armed with strings of lights. After decorating a tree in the front yard, he sent the remaining lights and spare batteries through the mailbox before realizing the patio door was open. In a statement, Mr Raducanu said: "I received a notification on my phone from the Nest doorbell. Mr Raducanu then followed Magar to a nearby bus stop, where he called the police. Testifying yesterday, Magar said he was ashamed now that he knew he had upset her. Magar was released on bail for not contacting Miss Raducanu and her parents and visiting the street where they live. Miss Raducanu has been contacted for comment.

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Liel Abada's last minute punch sets up the Old Firm classic

Liel Abada fires 10-man Celtic to a crucial win over Dundee United while Rangers' lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership is cut to two points ahead of Wednesday's Old Firm clash; Watch free game highlights on Sky Sports digital platforms from 9pm on Saturday (Author: Gardener)

Liel Abada'sCeltic can rise to the top of the Cinch Premiership with a win over Rangers on Wednesday night after Liel Abada's last goal gave them a 1-0 win over Dundee United at Parkhead. The champions had blundered earlier in the day in a 3-3 draw with Ross County at Dingwall to take a five-point lead, but Ange Postecoglou's side spent most of the afternoon frustrated by the disciplined visitors . The triumph moved Celtic to two points ahead of Rangers ahead of the Old Firm game and a game that has traditionally been tense and hard fought has added an extra layer of intrigue. Anthony Ralston, Liam Scales and Abada returned to the starting line-up, while United boss Tam Courts announced the changes with Adrian Sporle, Nicky Clark, 19-year-old Archie Meekison, Ilmari Niskanen and 18-year-old Lewis Neilson starting. Before kick-off, Postecoglou and McGregor laid a wreath on the pitch in honor of the recently deceased Celtic manager Wim Jansen, before a minute's applause. United caused some concerns early on and in the seventh minute Sporle got close with a shot from inside the area which Hoops keeper Joe Hart was delighted to see sizzling past his far post. Moments later, United's Giorgos Giakoumakis' Calum Butcher thwarted as the 27-year-old Greek striker, who had scored in each of the last two games, was too slow to parry his shot. The well-organized defense was soon deep in their own half and in the 27th minute Abada worked his way into the United box but his close-range shot from an angle was blocked by Ben Siegrist. The keeper was then injured, preventing Giakoumakis from getting a clean shot on goal from Abada's low cross to the near post, but was reinstated after treatment. Siegrist then parried a decent long-range shot from Matt O'Riley and made his home debut after moving from MK Dons before the midfielder missed a huge chance, failing to find a James Forrest cross. The Scottish winger and Scales stayed inside at the break, replaced by loanee Portuguese winger Jota and left-back Josip Juranovic, and within moments Siegrist had saved O'Riley's header from a Jota cross. United replaced injured defender Scott McMann with Ross Graham and the visitors stuck to their defensive duties under mounting pressure, while Siegrist somehow managed to foot off a Giakoumakis shot from six yards out. In the 67th minute, Postecoglou opted for another double substitute, with Ralston and Reo Hatate making way for defender Greg Taylor and 16-year-old debutant Ben Doak. Parkhead was shaking with tension and nervousness as Celtic kept up the pace but with nine minutes left Bitton, who had earlier been cautioned for a foul on Tony Watt, was called home for a foul on United substitute Declan Glass just outside the Celtic box sent. There was one more twist and on death, Abada pulled Jota's cross out of the air and shot the ball up into the net. Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou: “It was probably just a continuation of the players' spirit and willingness to find a way. It wasn't a great day for us, especially in the first half when we didn't have the intensity and pace of our football to keep them under constant pressure." Dundee United boss Tam Courts: "I think we were probably ( worth a point) really well in terms of effort, player engagement and execution of a game plan. My only frustration is that we didn't maintain enough attacking power and caused a lot of problems for Celtic. "But in terms of effort and what we've done I think we deserved a point more than that, but Celtic will think that with their possession and the number of times they attacked our goal, they got the goal on deserve the end." Dundee United travel to Scottish Premier League rivals Dundee on Tuesday at 7.45pm before meeting Celtic host champions and league leaders Rangers in the Old Firm on Wednesday at 7.45pm – live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm.

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Celtic tipped to beat Rangers as Ange Postecoglou recruitment is celebrated

KENNY DALGLISH believes making bold predictions about the forthcoming Glasgow derby is risky but reckons his old side must be seen as slight favorites ahead of Wednesday night. (Author: Gardener)

GlasgowKENNY DALGLISH believes making bold predictions about the forthcoming Glasgow derby is risky but reckons his old side must be seen as slight favorites ahead of Wednesday night. Ange Postecoglou's men closed the gap on their rivals at the top of the table to two points after a day of dramatic Premiership action on Saturday. Matthew Wright's last-minute equalizer saw Rangers leave Dingwall with a single point, while Liel Abada's injury-time winner was enough for Celtic to defeat Dundee United at home. A win for the home side at Parkhead midweek would be enough to put Celtic ahead in the title race and Dalglish is hoping his old side will do just that. With so much at stake en route to the derby, the former Celtic striker expects a close game but after watching Wednesday's 2-1 win at Tynecastle he reckons they are ahead. "I would see Celtic as slight favorites to win this game," he wrote in his Sunday Post column. "I saw them against Hearts last midweek and they were impressive. It's never wise to pick a winner but I think home field advantage gives Celtic the edge when we go into the game." Postecoglou had a difficult start as Celtic manager, losing three of his first six league games and losing first place in the title race. Dalglish is certain it was Postecolglou's coaching skills that turned the tide, as the Liverpool man praised the Greek-Australian's eye for a player Ange for his coaching and managerial abilities," he continued. “Another of his signings, Reo Hatate, scored an outstanding goal, the kind of goal that knocks spectators out of their seats. "New signing Matt O'Riley seems like a real player and I was also impressed by Giorgos Giakoumakis. "Giakoumakis has had his time at Celtic constantly interrupted by injuries but he looks really good. “He had a great finish against Alloa in the Scottish Cup last weekend and followed that up with another brilliant execution on Wednesday and made a real name for himself in the Old Firm game. "If Ange hands him the role of centre-forward then the Greek striker seems to have him in his closet as a potential match-winner."

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4 Celtic vs Rangers head-to-heads that will decide a momentous derby including James McCarthy v Joe Aribo

Record Sport picks four of the best battles to watch out for on Wednesday night. (Author: Gardener)

James McCarthyIt's almost time for Glasgow's day of days and Wednesday's big derby between Celtic and Rangers will feature a series of ongoing clashes. There's plenty of subplots and feuds in a 22-strong cast, and this week will be no different. Both teams will miss some key players with injuries, suspensions and even international call-ups but that won't affect the quality of Wednesday night with so much at stake. These two sides are still immensely strong, which is evident at the top of the Premier League by the minute. Gio van Bronckhorst has a slight advantage but those two points will be lost with a defeat at Parkhead as Ange Postecoglou wants a win to top the table. On the other hand, an away win would mend damage done in January and restore Rangers' lead in the final months of the season. Could August's clash at Ibrox with Jota on the left and Kyogo Furuhashi in the middle have been a different story? It raises an important question, but of course the Rangers lacked their skipper, the heartbeat of the team. Tavernier has suffered a bit of a decline compared to last season but is still performing very well and has been helped by the managerial change. Teams learned how to exploit a gung-ho approach under Steven Gerrard, and his runs up front are chosen more carefully. But has he met an opponent of Jota's quality yet? If Tavernier is to remain calm, Jota will also need to do the dirty work, backtracking and helping Liam Scales or Greg Taylor at left-back. In the green corner: an aging defensive midfielder who was struggling with the intensity of Postecoglou's training and, given the circumstances, was obviously just a starting option for such a hectic game. In the blue corner: Rangers Player of the Year. Nir Bitton's red card at the weekend really puts a new spin on the midfield struggle and while Reo Hatate and Matt O'Riley have both looked good since their debuts, it's not entirely clear they would be fit for the holding role. We reckon Postecoglou would opt for the Irishman in that scenario - he sent for the veteran as soon as Bitton was sent off on Saturday - and if that's the case he has a job to do to keep Aribo in check to keep. It's a tough question for anyone, let alone someone who hasn't played much this season, but if he's got what it takes then this could be the moment he finally shows that Premier League class. Aribo's quick feet can create something out of thin air, and Van Bronckhorst loves getting him to run past the front line to cause some disruption. The season has yet to really take off for Kent after his incredible campaign last season. But those are two consecutive games in which he has set up big goals for Rangers, even if the result against Aberdeen or Ross County didn't go his way. He meets solid opponents in Croatia right-back Juranovic, who has been moved to left-back for the first derby of the season. Anthony Ralston kept his place at right-back as Greg Taylor suffered a shoulder injury and Liam Scales was signed at left-back just days before Juranovic. This time he should be on his preferred flank and while reliable on the left he can show his class on the right. The likelihood of Derby veteran McGregor being sacked after a couple of shots at Dingwall seems slim, especially given the incredible stops he made in that game last season. But in a 60,000-strong Parkhead cauldron, he needs to keep his head, and so does Hart on the other end. He's also capable of some world champions and loved by fans, but there have been some hairy moments where the former England international has had the ball at his feet. In any outfield encounter, it could be the performance of either of these two highly decorated goalies that decides the game – and gives a team the title in the running.

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The 5 Rangers dilemmas Giovanni van Bronckhorst faces ahead of Celtic clash

It was far from ideal preparation for an upcoming Old Firm encounter as Rangers held Ross County to a 3-3 draw at Dingwall on Saturday. (Author: Gardener)

Giovanni van BronckhorstIt was far from ideal preparation for an upcoming Old Firm encounter as Rangers held Ross County to a 3-3 draw at Dingwall on Saturday. Next up is a trip to Celtic for the much anticipated and belated New Year Old Firm Showdown. It's going to be a smash but manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has some deep creases to iron out in his squad ahead of the game that will play a huge role in the Scottish Premiership title race. Allan McGregor had a Howler in the Highlands and was at fault for two of Ross County's three goals. McGregor was also to blame for County's 95th-minute equalizer when he failed to order his box and retrieve the ball after falling onto the six-yard line from a corner. No one can forget McGregor's stunning form last season that took Rangers to the title, but this season he's been far from that level. The Ibrox club had been linked with St Johnstone's Zander Clark and Dundee United's Benjamin Siegrist in early January but those moves appear to have gone quiet with just a day left of the transfer window. Jon McLaughlin yesterday signed a new contract that will keep him at the club until 2024 and it will be interesting to see if he is thrown into the action at Celtic Park on Wednesday. Joe Aribo returned to Rangers and started in the starting XI at Dingwall after being on international duty with Nigeria. There was talk of Aribo leaving Ibrox this January, but as mentioned, it looks like Gers fans will be able to enjoy him a little longer if there's a day outside the window. The left-hander, 25, delivered a killer assist and looked forward every time he got his foot on the ball. Aribo is a born winner and his presence and creativity in the final third will be key to some key games in the title race. Connor Goldson scored Rangers' third goal, which appeared to be the winner, before Ross County's Matthew Wright annulled it in stoppage time. The England defender slapped the Rangers badge as he made his way to away support and after the game Kris Boyd speculated it could be a sign he was staying with Van Bronckhorst's side. Goldson has been locked in talks with Rangers over a new contract for some time and has also been linked with numerous clubs in the South. Goldson's level of performance has suffered slightly due to his transfer uncertainty and Rangers need to strike a new deal as soon as possible if he has decided Ibrox is his future. Cedric Itten led the line for Rangers before being replaced by Kemar Roofe on the hour mark. At the other end, Ross County's Jordan White was fielded in a similar role, and his performance beat Itten's by a mile despite an apparent drop in serve from those around him, with Rangers enjoying more possession. Itten was recalled earlier this window from his loan spell at German club Greuther Furth while Alfredo Morelos was on international duty. The Colombian is expected to miss three games for his club, including Wednesday's crucial competition in Parkhead. Morelos will be a big miss and Itten will need to up his level if he gets the nod. Manchester United star Amad Diallo must have thought Scottish football was going to be easy as he scored the first goal of his Rangers loanee against Ross County in under five minutes. Instead, his team found themselves at the bottom of a sucker punch leveler that resulted in two crucial points being lost in the race for the Premiership trophy. Diallo looked menacing throughout and his precise control and skillful tricks will surely add another dimension to the Gers attack. The 19-year-old linked well in attack with Joe Aribo and Ryan Kent and also formed a decent partnership with James Tavernier on the right. The Rangers skipper hasn't bombed down the right flank as much as last season but Diallo's movement and coverage meant he was in the opposition box on numerous occasions, including for his 50th-minute goal. The extent of his knock is currently unknown but Rangers fans are hoping it's nothing serious as he could act as a surprise package on Wednesday night.

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Rangers and Celtic back to their old routine but Giovanni van Bronckhorst could be in for a draw

Old Firm fans have been starved by truly season-defining clashes with their fiercest rival. (Author: Gardener)

CelticOld Firm fans have been starved by truly season-defining clashes with their fiercest rival. Old Firm fans have been starved by truly season-defining clashes with their fiercest rival. Shifts in momentum in Scottish Premiership seasons have often translated into games between the two greats, but it's been a while since results have been of crucial importance. Shifts in momentum in Scottish Premiership seasons have often translated into games between the two greats, but it's been a while since results have been of crucial importance. In the past 10 seasons, the gap between champions and runners-up has averaged 18.3 points. Last season, Rangers finished Celtics 10-in-a-row hopes by a 25-point margin. But Wednesday's game at Celtic Park, originally the traditional New Year's derby but postponed due to the forced early winter break, has a different atmosphere. The form guide would suggest you couldn't split them up and even a supercomputer has given mixed news - forecasting a 55th Rangers title but Celtic will win narrowly on Wednesday. Rangers are in the lead but Celtic have their own momentum for their first midweek Old Firm game since 2011. One intriguing factor is that the two managers have a combined Old Firm game under their belt. Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou, who was linked with the Rangers job five years ago, brought 12 new faces into a rebuilding job in the summer but lost his first taste of the old firm's rivalry at Ibrox in August. In a city where managers are as much defined by their Old Firm record as silverware, the Aussie will be desperate to fix that in front of home fans. However, there is no doubt that Celtic are a different matter, unbeaten in the league since September and winning the League Cup on the side. With Steven Gerrard gone, Giovanni van Bronckhorst faces his toughest job yet as Rangers manager after 12 games unbeaten - including draws at Lyon and Aberdeen and conceding just three goals. The Dutchman has plenty of experience of Old Firm games as a Gers player, having won two league titles in his three seasons there, but he still bears the scars of some heavy defeats against Celtic during that period. There's no doubt that Rangers are harder to beat under him, breaking the bad habit of conceding the first goal. Under Gerrard, Rangers went to Celtic Park to win, but with playmaker Ianis Hagi out for the rest of the season and Alfredo Morelos on international duty, there's a hunch Van Bronckhorst would go for a draw - just like he did in Pittodrie last week.

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