Kyogo Furuhashi’s stunning strike earned Celtic a 2-1 victory over Rangers and open up an eight-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.
A 16-game unbeaten start to Philippe Clement’s reign as Rangers manager came to an end in his first taste of the Old Firm derby, but the visitors gave Brendan Rodgers’ men a scare late on.
Rangers still have two games in hand on their Glasgow rivals to cut the gap at the top of the table.
However, Clement now has to deal with the first major setback since he replaced Michael Beale in October.
Paulo Bernardo’s sweet hit separated the sides before half-time.
Furuhashi then lashed in his eighth goal against Rangers in the past year.
And victory seemed assured for the Hoops when Leon Balogun was shown a straight red card for hauling down Daizen Maeda as he broke clear on goal.
But James Tavernier’s stunning free-kick halved the arrears on 88 minutes and Celtic’s nerves showed during 10 minutes of added time.
Back-to-back shock defeats to Kilmarnock and Hearts for Celtic earlier this month has opened the door for Rangers to haul themselves right back into the title race.
Celtic, though, have since steadied the ship with three consecutive wins to pull clear once more.
Bernardo scored his first Celtic goal in a 3-0 win at Dundee on Boxing Day and opened the scoring in style midway through the first half.
A corner was only half cleared to the Portuguese midfielder at the edge of the box and he rifled a fierce effort into the far corner.
Celtic’s talisman Furuhashi has endured a poor spell in front of goal of late, but the Japanese international showed he is the man for the big occasion.
Furuhashi turned on the edge of the area before firing on his weaker left foot into the top corner from outside the box just two minutes into the second half.
Tavernier responded with a similar moment of magic as he whipped a free-kick into Joe Hart’s near post from a narrow angle for his 16th goal of the season.
But Rangers could not find a dramatic late leveller to leave them with plenty of work to do in 2023 to deny Celtic a 12th title in 13 seasons.
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