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Matondo scores late stunner as Rangers fight back in Old Firm classic |



Rangers fought back from a two-goal half-time deficit to draw 3-3 with Celtic as the cinch Premiership title race exploded at Ibrox.

Hoops attacker Daizen Maeda gave the visitors a stunning lead after just 21 seconds which rocked the home side.

The nervy Light Blues fell further behind in the 34th minute when midfielder Matt O’Riley coolly converted a penalty after a VAR intervention.

Rangers improved after the break and skipper James Tavernier scored from the spot in the 55th minute before striker Cyriel Dessers had the ball in the net two minutes later only for an earlier infringement to rule out a goal.

Substitute Abdallah Sima levelled in the 86th minute but a minute later Hoops substitute Adam Idah drove in for what looked like a dramatic winner only for Rangers replacement Rabbi Matondo to level in added time for a share of the spoils which left Celtic one point ahead at the top.

Rangers have a game in hand against Dundee on Wednesday but have still to go to Celtic Park after the split with more twists likely.

Rangers left-back Ridvan Yilmaz could not prove his fitness and Philippe Clement preferred utility player Dujon Sterling to Borna Barisic, while Tom Lawrence replaced Todd Cantwell.

Celtic captain Callum McGregor was only fit enough for the bench after recovering from an Achilles problem and he would have been as stunned as anyone when the Hoops took an instant lead.

Joe Hart’s long clearance went past hesitant Tavernier who tried to clear under pressure from Maeda but the ball rebounded off the Japan attacker and sped low past keeper Jack Butland.

The Ibrox support was taken aback as were the players who were all over the place in the ensuing minutes.

In the 24th minute a Mohamed Diomande corner was headed over by Connor Goldson before Butland made a great save from a Maeda drive and then Reo Hatate fired just wide from the edge of the box, bringing more jeers down from the stands.

Butland made an even better save from an O’Riley header on the half-hour mark and there was a VAR check for a possible Celtic penalty for a Goldson handball in the next attack.

When referee John Beaton checked his pitchside monitor at the behest of VAR Nick Walsh, he decided the ball had struck the centre-back’s elbow and pointed to the spot.

O’Riley dinked the ball down the middle and Butland dived the wrong way.

Just before the break Rangers forward Fabio Silva, who was having a frustrating afternoon, had two attempts from close range blocked but the boos rang out at the sound of Beaton’s half-time whistle.

Clement replaced winger Scott Wright with Sima for the start of the second half, where Silva was soon booked for diving inside the Celtic box after a challenge by Alistair Johnston.

Beaton, however, was again sent by the VAR check to the screen and again he pointed to the spot – it looked a soft award – cancelling out Silva’s yellow card and Tavernier blasted the ball high past Hart.

Then Dessers slammed in from close range following a goalmouth scramble but Beaton checked his monitor again and ruled Lawrence had fouled midfield counterpart Tomoki Iwata in the build-up.

The mood inside Ibrox had changed as Rangers went in search of an equaliser and it came with four minutes of normal time remaining when Sima picked up a clearance inside the Celtic box and fired high into the net via a deflection.

However, a moment later, Idah, on for Kyogo Furuhashi, took a pass from fellow substitute Paulo Bernardo and fired low past Butland.

But in the third of eight added minutes, Matondo turned inside in the Celtic box and curled the ball high past Hart and Ibrox bounced for the last few minutes, while the final whistle had players from both sides at loggerheads as passions boiled over.

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