Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Samaras Jumping through Hoops

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Samaras Jumping through Hoops

Article excerpt

Glasgow Rangers 0 Celtic 2 GEORGIOS Samaras grabbed a double as Celtic blew the title race wide open by claiming victory in the Old Firm derby at Ibrox.

The Hoops headed into the New Year showdown with a one-point advantage at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League but aware of Rangers' two games in hand.

However, two second-half goals from Samaras - the second from the penalty spot - allowed Celtic to extend that lead to four points.

Youngster Jamie Ness was handed a memorable first start for Rangers after Steven Naismith failed to recover from a hamstring injury in time.

Celtic's new signing Freddie Ljungberg failed to even make the squad after picking up a virus, while captain Scott Brown was suspended.

Beram Kayal, Charlie Mulgrew and Samaras were all drafted into the Hoops side.

Former captains John Greig and Billy McNeill led out the teams as both sets of fans perfectly observed a minute's silence ahead of kick-off to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Ibrox Disaster, when 66 Rangers fans lost their lives.

Rangers were also showing their respects to former player Avi Cohen, who died recently.

Celtic survived a scare when Lee Mc-Culloch connected well with a Vladimir Weiss corner and Emilio Izaguirre was forced into a headed clearance via the crossbar as Rangers applied pressure.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between in a scrappy opening spell, but Celtic threatened when Paddy McCourt slipped a lovely pass to James Forrest in front of goal - only for McCulloch to make a timely intervention before he could unleash a shot.

The first bookings of the game came after 27 minutes when referee Craig Thomson brandished a yellow card to Madjid Bougherra for a challenge on Mulgrew, and the Celtic player was also cautioned for retaliating.

Steven Whittaker had the chance to snatch the opener at the end of a disappointing first half when he collected a flighted cross from Weiss, but he miskicked under pressure from Mark Wilson and the opportunity was lost. …

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