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RANGERS 1 CELTIC 0 Ireland legend admits Neil Lennon may have to go after Celtic lose Old Firm clash at Rangers

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA Photo.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA Photo.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA Photo.

CELTIC legend Packie Bonner suggested Neil Lennon may have to be replaced as the club’s manager after hopes of leading the club to a tenth successive Scottish Premiership title went up in smoke at Ibrox.

Rangers took another huge step towards their first league title in a decade after Steven Gerrard’s team claimed a precious 1-0 Ibrox win over 10-man Celtic.

A tale of two McGregors came together to extend the Light Blues’ lead at the top of the Premiership to 19 points – and place Neil Lennon’s future as Celtic boss in fresh doubt.

It might have been a different story had Gers keeper Allan McGregor not pulled off three world-class saves – including brilliant finger-tipping Leigh Griffiths’ strike onto the post.

But with Celtic unable to capitalise on a dominant first half, they left themselves vulnerable to a sucker punch and so it proved as Callum McGregor put the ball into his own net seven minutes after Nir Bitton had been sent off by referee Bobby Madden.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” declared Lennon, who is now certain to be under huge pressure to hang onto his job after a crushing defeat.

“We were the better team and I think the referee has made the wrong decision which has changed the course of the game.

“It’s not a sending off. It’s a foul. We’ve got Kristoffer Ajer coming across on the cover. Morelos is in a wide position. It’s not a clear and obvious scoring opportunity.

“He might get a shot off but he’s certainly not clean through on goal and I thought (Bobby) was too quick to get the red card out.

“I’m really proud of the performance. We were outstanding up until the red card, which changed the course of the game.

“Again we’ve been done by a pretty poor refereeing performance. I don’t think he was great all day.”

While Lennon continues to insist he is the man to lead the club forward despite their woes this season, former Celtic great Bonner is among those suggesting the moment has now come for the club to open up a fresh chapter, as he questioned Lennon’s position as manager.

“Celtic need to look to the future and they need to make a lot of changes,” declared the former Ireland keeper.

“They played well in this game, but they didn’t make the most of their chances in the first half and they came up short when they were asked to defend a set-piece, so the league is probably gone now.

“They may have to look very closely at the management and there are some players they have to move out quickly.

“Is Lennon the man to take them forward for the next two or three years? I’m not so sure and the decision is whether to make the big move now.”

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Rangers' Joe Aribo looks on as Celtic's Callum McGregor scores an own goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Rangers' Joe Aribo looks on as Celtic's Callum McGregor scores an own goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Rangers' Joe Aribo looks on as Celtic's Callum McGregor scores an own goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Lennon had every right to salute Celtic’s performance up to the point that saw Britton dismissed, but the reality is they blew their chance to snap back at a Rangers side that were not firing on all cylinders.

“At half time, I had to ask the players how much they wanted to win a derby,” revealed Rangers boss Steven Gerrard. “You can’t be passive and you’ve got to let Celtic know they are in a game.

“Credit to Celtic I thought they played really well for 45 minutes, but we’ve won the game, we’ve stretched our lead.”

Ireland defender Shane Duffy looked well off the pace as he made an appearance late in the game, with Celtic’s vulnerability defending set-pieces costing them dearly once again.

An Old Firm game played before empty stands at Ibrox was a strange experience for all who witnessed it, yet the significance of the outcome cannot be under-estimated on so many levels.

The end of Celtic’s nine-year dominance of the Scottish game now looks certain to be confirmed, with Liverpool legend Gerrard starting to prove his worth as a manager who could be ready to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Anfield when his contract expires in the summer of 2024.

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