Celtic confirmed on Monday that manager Neil Lennon and 13 senior players are self-isolating, but the club are still defending the decision to hold a training camp in Dubai.

Defender Christopher Jullien tested positive for COVID-19 after the team returned to Scotland ahead of Monday's Premiership clash with Hibernian.

Although all other squad and staff members returned negative tests, Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players are self-isolating after being deemed close contacts.

The reigning champions remain insistent they followed "rigorous" COVID-secure protocols and that the threat of contracting the virus would have been similarly high had they stayed in Scotland.

In a statement, Celtic said: "Clearly we are hugely disappointed, as we know our supporters will be. The contacts were identified during the period from Wednesday last week, primarily around flight and team coach travel, during which time Celtic applied the same rigorous protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and for all domestic match arrangements in Scotland.    

"These protocols have served us well in the past, as the club has not had one positive case in our own 'bubble' until now. As we have already stated, Celtic's decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was for performance reasons. Whilst we were in Dubai, the announcements made on January 4 significantly changed the COVID landscape.  

"The reality is that a case could well have occurred had the team remained in Scotland, as other cases have done in Scottish football and across UK sport in the past week.
 
"Celtic has done everything it can to ensure we have in place the very best procedures and protocols. From the outset of the pandemic, Celtic has worked closely with the Scottish Government and Scottish football and we will continue to do so."

Steven Gerrard felt Rangers had made a statement with their 1-0 win over rivals Celtic, but insisted they were not looking at their 19-point lead atop the Scottish Premiership. 

Rangers took a huge step towards winning the league, an achievement which would deny Celtic 10 in a row, with a narrow triumph at Ibrox on Saturday. 

Callum McGregor's second-half own goal, shortly after Nir Bitton had been sent off for a foul on Alfredo Morelos, meant Gerrard's men triumphed despite not registering a shot on target. 

They also won 2-0 at Celtic Park in October and have won three straight derbies dating back to last season, their best run since 2008 when Walter Smith was in charge. 

While 19 points is a formidable advantage, Gerrard is not taking anything for granted, with Celtic holding three games in hand. 

"We don't look at the 19-point lead, we look at our next game against Aberdeen," Gerrard said to Sky Sports. 

"There are three points available there and 48 still to play for, so still a lot of challenges, a lot of obstacles to get over. We don't look at leads and our season starts now. 

"But today was big in terms of making a statement and proving we can win our second derby out of two."

Celtic were on top until Bitton saw red, with Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor making three important first-half saves, most notably tipping a 25-yard Leigh Griffiths strike onto the post. 

Asked about McGregor's performance, Gerrard said: "Wow - outstanding. He is a world-class goalkeeper. 

"Good decision [making him man of the match]. The couple of saves he made kept us in the match. He is outstanding, reliable and trustworthy.  

"I knew already but I now know even more why he has been so successful at this club because he has bailed us out again." 

Former Liverpool captain Gerrard was not overly worried by Rangers' performance, adding: "First half we were not good enough, we were not ourselves and second best in a lot of areas. 

"There was a massive improvement in the second half, then obviously the sending off is a big, major incident in the game and it looked like only one team would win it from there. 

"Credit to Celtic - they played really well in the first half, but we were outstanding in the cup final for 90 minutes not too long ago and got nothing for it. It is about the end result. 

"You are not always going to be pretty on the eye and able to show your style. It is about the outcome. It was all about the three points, especially at this stage of the season. 

"It is another big three points and another clean sheet, so really proud of the team in terms of their efforts. We stretch our lead, remain humble and move on to Aberdeen."

Rangers took a huge step towards winning the Scottish Premiership title as Callum McGregor's own goal gave them a 1-0 Old Firm derby win over Celtic.

Steven Gerrard's unbeaten team now lead their fierce rivals by a formidable 19 points at the top of the table.

Celtic still have three games in hand but their hopes of clinching a historic 10th straight title look increasingly slim, with this result piling the pressure on manager Neil Lennon.

Champions Celtic had the better of Saturday's match at Ibrox, but the tables were turned when Nir Bitton was sent off after 62 minutes.

Callum McGregor then inadvertently gave Rangers, who did not register a shot on target in the contest, a priceless winning goal.

Celtic made an excellent start and it took two pivotal saves from goalkeeper Allan McGregor to stop the visitors from going into an early lead.

He impressively got down low to deny Odsonne Edouard, who had not played in the last meeting between the sides, which Rangers won 2-0 in October.

The Rangers keeper then produced an even better fingertip stop to tip a 25-yard shot from Leigh Griffiths that was destined to find the top corner onto the post.

Gerrard brought on Ianis Hagi – who had been dropped from the starting XI in place of Ryan Kent – at half-time, with Kemar Roofe coming off and his side gradually began to improve.

Rangers got a big boost when Bitton was dismissed after wrestling Alfredo Morelos to the ground as the striker attempted to race on to a James Tavernier pass and looked like he had a clear path to goal.

They moved in front after 70 minutes, Joe Aribo flicking a Tavernier onto Callum McGregor, whose arm deflected the ball beyond Vasilios Barkas.

Celtic substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi shot just over but there was no way back for the 10 men, who have now lost three straight league derbies for the first time since 2008.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been left "hurt" by fan protests, even though he would have understood if the club decided to sack him after a dismal run of form.

The Hoops, who are chasing a 10th straight league title, have managed just two wins from their past 10 matches in all competitions, with a 35-game unbeaten cup run coming to an end with a defeat to Ross County on Sunday.

Lennon's side sit second in the Scottish Premiership, 11 points adrift of Steven Gerrard's Rangers, and the loss to County sparked angry demonstrations from fans outside Celtic Park.

While understanding of the fans' frustrations, Lennon – who has the support of Celtic's board – admitted he has been hit hard by the protests against him and the club.

"On the scenes on Sunday, we're hurt and disappointed," Lennon said in a news conference ahead of Thursday's Europa League clash with Serie A leaders Milan.

"I understand the frustrations of the supporters because we are not in a great run at the minute. But it serves no purpose, particularly for the players.

"I'm old enough and big enough to take criticism and abuse. Some of it is justified and some of it is over the top. That is the role of a manager and that is the responsibility you have to bear.

"They [the players] felt the wrath of the supporters. It surprised some of them, it shook a few of them up. But they want to put things right for them and obviously the club and myself as well."

Lennon was asked if he believed the County defeat would have brought the curtain down on his second spell in charge of the club.

"Not in my heart of hearts, but I could understand if that had been the case," he replied.

"I am very grateful. They are not a board that sack managers for the sake of it. We have had great success. We are going through a tough time, but they don't leave you out on the lurch.

"For 20 years, I have done everything in my power to bring success to the club and the fans. That is not going to change on the run of a bad month or people being upset by my style of management."

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso said Sean Connery did not want him to leave Scottish giants Rangers as he remembered the legendary actor.

Connery – best known for his role as fictional British secret agent James Bond in the iconic film series between 1962 and 1983 – died aged 90 on Saturday.

The Scotsman was also a Rangers supporter, while previously serving as a member of the board at Ibrox.

Gattuso – a Champions League and Serie A winner with Milan and World Cup champion with Italy – spent a year playing for Rangers before returning to his homeland via Salernitana in 1998.

Asked about Connery following Napoli's 2-0 loss to Sassuolo on Sunday, Gattuso told reporters: "I only met him once, the president back then was David Murray, he was a member of the board.

"It's true, we spoke on an evening and he absolutely didn't want [me to leave]. What can I say?

"A very big hug to his entire family, the people who represent him, surely I've got beautiful memories of him, very fascinating, great man, he made history in cinema."

Napoli were upstaged by high-flying Sassuolo, who stayed second and within two points of unbeaten leaders Milan.

Manuel Locatelli and Maxime Lopez scored in the second half to leave Gattuso's Napoli fifth and five points off the pace.

Locatelli converted a 59th-minute penalty to become the youngest Italian with two or more goals in Serie A this season, and the youngest player with a penalty goal in the competition this term.

Sassuolo have collected 14 points from their first six games in Serie A – a record for the club after their first six matchdays in a single top-flight season.

"We mustn't listen to people talking about the Scudetto," said Gattuso, whose Napoli edged Real Sociedad in Europa League action on Thursday. "We'll try to get into the top four. It's a very strong league this season, every team is smart, they change their shape, and it is really difficult to find a way through.

"I see my Napoli team. We're not as sharp as we were before, but with a game every two, three days, that's only to be expected."

Steven Gerrard challenged his Rangers players to follow up their success against Celtic with a meaningful title challenge after winning a second straight Old Firm derby.

Rangers triumphed 2-0 on Saturday thanks to an unlikely double from centre-back Connor Goldson, who scored in each half as a depleted Celtic failed to register a single shot on target.

Having also won the last meeting in December, Gerrard has become the first Rangers manager to win back-to-back away league games over Celtic since March 1997.

As his team bid to prevent their rivals from winning a 10th straight Scottish Premiership, he urged his players to build on their victory.

Asked if the 23-year first proves the gap has closed between the two teams, Gerrard told Sky Sports: "The players are showing more maturity, with time and games we are getting more experienced together.

"It was a really mature performance, but we need more of that from now until the end of the season. We have still got an awful lot of hard work to do and we have respect for the team we are chasing.

"That is going to be our challenge now: can we go the distance?

"It is a big win, of course it is. Always a tough game, big challenge when you come here with a lot of pressure, a lot of anxiety.

"We did not have to play at our maximum and I don't think we were at our fluent best, but we've come here and controlled the game with and without the ball.

"Allan McGregor has not really been tested, so we are really pleased with the performance the players have given.

"We were certainly worthy winners – Celtic threw everything at us. They have started with and brought on really good players that are worth a lot of money but we managed the game.

"We will enjoy the win but there will be no getting carried away. We need to remain humble and on we go."

Last year's win had been Rangers' first over Celtic in the league since 2010 and, after his two goals sealed a second straight triumph, match-winner Goldson also earned the praise of Gerrard.

"I'm shocked but he's certainly capable," Gerrard said of Goldson, who added to his double with seven clearances and two blocks, both tied for game highs.

"His all-round performance was outstanding; he deserves the headlines he is going to get. He led us from the back."

Celtic are now four points behind Rangers but do have a game in hand.

Manager Neil Lennon acknowledged they had struggled without star striker Odsonne Edouard, one of four players missing due to coronavirus-related issues from the international break.

"We have given away two poor goals from our point of view and missed a great chance to equalise [through Mohamed Elyounoussi]," said Lennon, who is also contending with several injuries.

"[Albian] Ajeti and [Leigh] Griffiths are not fully fit, Edouard is out – so three main strikers missing to start with.

"We created good chances in the first half to score but I have to say Rangers defended their box pretty well and that was the difference. We will look at the performance and build for better."

Rangers won a second straight Old Firm derby and moved four points ahead of Celtic in the Scottish Premiership as an unlikely double from Connor Goldson secured a 2-0 victory.

Defender Goldson struck in the ninth minute and added another after the break on Saturday as Steven Gerrard's men made it two straight away league wins over Celtic for the first time in 23 years.

Celtic were without key players like striker Odsonne Edouard but few would have expected Neil Lennon's team not to register a shot on target or have a second-half attempt of any nature until the 85th minute in a miserable outing.

Rangers now hold a decent lead over their fierce rivals at the summit and, while Celtic still have a game in hand, Garrard can reflect on a positive first quarter of the 2020-21 season.

It was a dream start for Rangers when James Tavernier curled in a free-kick from the right and Goldson glanced a header into the far corner from six yards, with goalkeeper Vasilios Barkas unable to keep it out.

Celtic struggled to create many chances of note in the first half but they should have been level soon after the Rangers opener.

Mohamed Elyounoussi capitalised on mistake by Goldson under a long ball, only to send his attempt over the bar from a great opening as he attempted to lob Allan McGregor.

Having made a superb start to the first half, Rangers also struck nine minutes into the second.

Scott Arfield's deflected cross found its way to Goldson, and while the centre-back's initial effort was blocked by Shane Duffy, he composed himself to stab in a shot at the second attempt.

Celtic threw on Albian Ajeti, Leigh Griffiths and Tom Rogic from the bench but barely troubled a Rangers backline that has only conceded three goals in 11 games.

Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli has joined Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir just weeks after he faced stiff criticism for breaching coronavirus quarantine rules.

Left-back Bolingoli has left the Scottish champions on loan initially, but the Super Lig switch could lead to a permanent deal.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon confirmed this week that the club had imposed the maximum fine allowed on Bolingoli after he left the Hoops embarrassed in early August.

The 25-year-old Belgian travelled to Spain without Celtic's knowledge and did not follow coronavirus quarantine rules when returning to Scotland, going on to play in an August 9 match against Kilmarnock.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed dismay over the episode, and Celtic at the time said: "It is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible action in current circumstances and we find it beyond explanation."

Two Celtic matches had to be postponed because of Bolingoli's actions, and immediately his future at Parkhead looked bleak, despite him issuing an apology.

Confirmation of his departure on Sunday came as no surprise.

Istanbul Basaksehir announced on their website: "Our club has loaned Belgian football player Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo for a year with the option to buy."

Shane Duffy said he has fulfilled a childhood dream after completing a season-long loan move to Celtic from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The centre-back will link up with the Scottish champions for the 2020-21 campaign after international duty, where he is preparing for Nations League fixtures against Bulgaria and Finland with the Republic of Ireland.

"I'm delighted, it's something that I've always dreamed of doing and I'm just excited to get up there now and get going. Hopefully I can do my best for the club. I'm over the moon, it's been a long time coming!" Duffy told Celtic's official website.

"People will know the connection with Derry in Ireland and Celtic, and it's all we knew, really. 

"Growing up, I was lucky enough to get over to a few games and experience the atmosphere. It's my boyhood club and it's literally a dream when you're a kid. 

"Now I get the chance to go to Celtic Park and to play for the club is a huge honour and hopefully I can do them proud."

Duffy joined Brighton from Blackburn Rovers in August 2016 and helped the club achieve promotion to the Premier League.

He was a mainstay in the Seagulls' first two campaigns in the top flight but made just 12 Premier League starts under Graham Potter last term following the arrival of Adam Webster from Bristol City.

With Ben White also having returned from a season-long loan at Leeds United, Duffy's opportunities appeared limited at the Amex Stadium this term.

Bayern Munich have signed 16-year-old winger Barry Hepburn from Celtic.

Hepburn is a Scotland Under-17 international and will play in the same age group at Bayern, where he will be coached by Danny Schwarz.

His move from Celtic to the Bundesliga champions comes one year after Liam Morrison, who is training with Martin Demichelis' U19 team, trod the same path to Bavaria.

"We are very happy with the transfer of Barry," said Bayern academy director Jochen Sauer.

"He is an attacking player with a lot of potential that we want to help his further development steps."

Rangers have "strongly rejected" a bid from Leeds United for winger Ryan Kent, with the Premier League newcomers "way, way off" with their opening offer.

Leeds are looking to strengthen their squad ahead of their return to the top flight, with Kent seen as an ideal recruit to increase the attacking options available to head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

However, Rangers are understandably loathed to lose a player they only signed permanently from Liverpool less than a year ago.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's game against Kilmarnock, Gers boss Steven Gerrard confirmed Leeds' approach but made clear the Scottish club are determined to keep hold of the 23-year-old.

"Ryan's a player we admire very much here," Gerrard told the media.

"He's a player that we've seen develop at Liverpool for a long time. We bought him here on loan and he did ever so well, then we went and bought him and he's done ever so well and is progressing very, very quickly here. 

"He's in a good place and he's in good form. He's a player we want to keep hold of. 

"Yes, we have had contact from Leeds, and an opening bid has been really strongly rejected."

Kent managed seven league goals in the 2019-20 campaign for Rangers and has already scored twice at the start of the new campaign in Scotland.

When asked if Leeds would be given the same answer if they came back with an improved offer, Gerrard replied: "It depends on what that bid is, but they were way, way off with that opening bid.

"He's a player who is not for sale, we don't want to lose Ryan, he's a big part of what we've been trying to do here. 

"We want him to stay here for many, many years. But we know Premiership teams hold a lot of power - that's the reality, that's the way it is. We have to accept that. 

"But the message to Leeds is the opening bid is nowhere near the valuation of the player, and we obviously don't want to sell."

Celtic have confirmed the signing of striker Albian Ajeti from West Ham on a four-year contract.

The 23-year-old signed for West Ham from Basel in 2019 but managed just nine Premier League appearances last term – none of which were starts.

Ajeti has now left London Stadium without a goal to his name in any competition, with the Switzerland international joining Scottish champions Celtic.

Although the fee is undisclosed, media reports suggest it is £4.5million, almost half what West Ham paid for him a year ago.

He links up with his former Basel team-mate Mohamed Elyounoussi, who is spending a second season loan at Celtic from Southampton.

"We are delighted to bring Albian to Celtic. He is a tremendous player, an international with real quality and I know he is really determined to do all he can to bring more success to our supporters," Neil Lennon said.

"I have admired him for long time as he is a really intelligent footballer, well balanced and a really good finisher. We are so pleased to make him a Celtic player and we hope he has a long and prosperous career with us."

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon warned the entire SPFL season was at risk after two Celtic fixtures were postponed following a breach of coronavirus restrictions. 

Boli Bolingoli travelled to Spain without Celtic's knowledge and did not follow quarantine rules upon his return, going on to play in the 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock on Sunday. 

Celtic condemned the Belgian's "stupidity", apologising to the league for his "irresponsible action" in a strongly worded statement. 

Neil Lennon's team had been due to play St Mirren on Wednesday and Aberdeen on Saturday, but those games – along with Aberdeen's midweek clash with Hamilton Academical – will not now take place. 

Before the SPFL confirmed the cancellations, Sturgeon said: "I don't want the season to be in jeopardy. But we have to be very clear this situation is not acceptable. 

"You should not be expecting to see Aberdeen or Celtic play over the course of the coming week. Consider today the yellow card. The next time it will be the red card because you will leave us with absolutely no choice." 

Bolingoli's blunder came after two Aberdeen players tested positive for coronavirus, with eight players from the Pittodrie club issuing an apology for breaking guidelines after visiting a bar following their opening-weekend defeat to Rangers.  

Sturgeon has been left furious by the footballers' conduct and said in her daily briefing on Tuesday: "What I regret is that some football players seem incapable of living up to their responsibilities." 

She added: "This is just not acceptable. Every day I'm asking members of the public to make huge sacrifices in how they live their lives and the vast majority of members of public are doing that and it's not easy. 

"We can't have privileged football players deciding they're not going to bother. This can't go on." 

Celtic did not hold back in their condemnation of Bolingoli, who has tested negative for COVID-19.  

A club statement read: "It is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible action in current circumstances and we find it beyond explanation. The club will take immediate action through our own disciplinary procedures. 

"All of our playing and backroom staff have been tested twice for COVID-19 since this incident and all, including the player in question, have tested negative. While this comes as a relief to all concerned, it in no way diminishes the seriousness or stupidity of the player's actions." 

Bolingoli said: "I am guilty of a major error of judgement. I know what I did was wrong and I know that I must now deal with the consequences."

Celtic have blasted Boli Bolingoli's "stupidity" and apologised to the SPFL for his "irresponsible action" after the player breached quarantine restrictions. 

Bolingoli travelled to Spain without the club's knowledge and did not follow quarantine rules when returning from the country. 

He then featured in Celtic's 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock on Sunday, with his indiscretion coming after two Aberdeen players had tested positive for coronavirus. 

Eight Aberdeen players issued an apology having broken guidelines by visiting a bar in the aftermath of their opening-weekend defeat to Rangers. 

The Scottish government threatened to pause the Scottish Premiership season and Celtic did not hold back in their condemnation of Bolingoli, who the club said has tested negative for COVID-19. 

"Celtic Football Club unreservedly condemns and apologises for the behaviour of the player Boli Bolingoli in travelling to Spain without informing the club and in failing to observe quarantine restrictions," a statement from the club read. 

"It is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible action in current circumstances and we find it beyond explanation. The club will take immediate action through our own disciplinary procedures. 

"Celtic are in touch with every SPFL club, and with all relevant authorities, to apologise for the fact that one of our employees has created so much additional difficulty through his actions. 

"All of our playing and backroom staff have been tested twice for COVID-19 since this incident and all, including the player in question, have tested negative. While this comes as a relief to all concerned, it in no way diminishes the seriousness or stupidity of the player's actions. 

"Since the COVID -19 crisis began, we have had a safe and healthy squad of players, recording not one positive test. As a club, we have worked tirelessly to ensure a sustained, safe environment for all.    

"We have led the way in working with the football authorities and Scottish Government to establish the most rigorous, effective protocols and working practices, which ultimately led to the resumption of football. We could have done no more in this area. 

"It is a matter of the deepest regret to us that the behaviour of one individual has jeopardised that reputation and reflected discredit on football more generally." 

Bolingoli apologised for his error, saying: "I have made a huge mistake. I want to apologise to my manager, my team-mates, the supporters, everyone at Celtic and so many others for letting them down so badly. 

"I am guilty of a major error of judgement. I know what I did was wrong and I know that I must now deal with the consequences." 

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard believes star forward Alfredo Morelos has "had his head turned" by speculation over his future.

Morelos played 77 minutes against Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday but was unable to add to his 14 goals in this season's tournament as Rangers' lengthy Europa League run came to a close.

Moussa Diaby scored the only goal at the BayArena to conclude a 4-1 aggregate passage into the quarter-finals for the hosts.

Morelos has been heavily linked with a move to Ligue 1 side Lille, with Rangers' moves to sign attackers Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten on Tuesday widely interpreted as them preparing for life without the 24-year-old Colombian.

Asked by BT Sport whether he expected Morales to be at the club next week, Gerrard replied: "I don't know, I can't control what goes on outside.

"Everyone knows he's had his head turned, for sure. There's no denying that.

"But we just move forward. My focus is on the team and the players that want to be here and my focus is certainly on [Rangers' next game against] St Mirren.

"If a bid comes that the board like and are interested in, and the player tells me face to face he wants to go then we'll see what happens."

Gerrard refuted the suggestion that Morales' performance against Leverkusen had been compromised by the prevailing uncertainty.

"I don't think so. I think Alfredo's professional enough to block the noise out and focus," he said.

"He hasn't had the best of games tonight but we haven't as a team either.

"There are no fingers pointed at anyone. We've given it our best shot and unfortunately we fell short.

"We all have to improve, but Alfredo needs to remain focused."

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