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2021-22 Scottish Premiership
  • Filip Helander (66')

Helander Rangers' hero as Gerrard misses win over Celtic after COVID outbreak

Champions Rangers beat Celtic 1-0 at a packed Ibrox on Sunday to win the first Old Firm derby of the season.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard was absent from the touchline amid a COVID-19 outbreak among his squad, with assistant Gary McAllister taking charge in his absence.

Gerrard would have been celebrating at home, though, as defender Filip Helander powered home a header in the second half to clinch the victory for last season's title winners, who moved up to third with the win.

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Both sides went into the match with cause for concern, with Rangers failing to make the Champions League after defeat in the playoffs, as well as seeing the club's unbeaten run in the league end against Dundee United. Celtic, meanwhile, have started slowly under new coach Ange Postecoglou, with the Old Firm looking up at pacesetters Hibernian and Hearts in the early stages of the season.

Rangers enjoyed dominance over their rivals last season -- the first time in 20 years Celtic failed to beat Rangers over the course of a league campaign -- with Gerrard's men ending Celtic's nine-year stranglehold on the title.

As fans returned for the first Old Firm clash in 20 months, it was typically frantic throughout and both sides were left wondering how they didn't open the scoring in the early stages. Alfredo Morelos smashed over after two minutes while at the other end, Edouard got his feet in a muddle when it looked easier to score than miss. Kent was next to threaten and he came agonisingly close to putting the home side in front on 32 minutes, but his 20-yard effort bounced off the post and Celtic escaped.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first, with the match bubbling along in an end-to-end encounter, but neither side had too many chances to open the scoring.

Finally, though, the champions had reason to cheer as they went ahead on 66 minutes. Borna Barisic's delivery from a corner was superb and Helander rose highest to plant a powerful header past Joe Hart, who got a hand to it but could not keep it out.

Postecoglou responded by making a double substitution as Ismaila Soro and Tom Rogic came on for David Turnbull and Edouard -- the Celtic striker has strongly been linked with an exit in the final days of the transfer window -- but Celtic could not find a way back.