Substitute Leon Bailey scored late on as Bayer Leverkusen beat Rangers 3-1 at Ibrox in Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg to take control of the tie.

Bundesliga side Leverkusen entered the match in fine form and made that count as they opened up a two-goal lead thanks to Kai Havertz and Charles Aranguiz.

Highly rated midfielder Havertz opened the scoring from a penalty that was contentiously awarded by referee Szymon Marciniak and Aranguiz fired in a second after 67 minutes.

But Rangers pulled one back through George Edmundson and were pushing for an equaliser when dealt a sucker punch by Bailey's fine finish two minutes from time.

Bayern Leverkusen star Leon Bailey has admitted it is a different feeling for players to compete in an empty stadium but agrees it is a necessary evil in light of the threat posed by COVID19.

The 22-year-old Jamaica international is expected to play a key role when the in-form German outfit takes on Scottish club Rangers, at Leverkusen's Bay Arena.  The match will, however, be missing a key element as it will be played behind closed doors, becoming a part of Europe's struggles to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

With over 1000 people having tested positive for the coronavirus in the country, the German Football League (DFL) decided to close games on a case by case basis.  The trend has already strongly taken root across Europe with many leagues opting for fan free matches.  It has already been confirmed that the second leg of the tie, in Scotland, will also be played behind closed doors.

“It affects us because football is for the fans.  Playing behind closed doors is always a different type of feeling,” Bailey told BBC Sports Scotland.

“But I mean we also have to think about the safety of others, and we have to do what we have to do,” he added.

“Our health come first.  Without health, there is no life.”

 

 

Wednesday has seen the coronavirus outbreak take further toll on sport across the world.

Further matches have been postponed while others appear unable to go ahead due to increased travel restrictions between affected countries.

Governing bodies are also taking steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by cancelling planned meetings, while others are calling for further changes to the calendar.

Here are some of the latest events to be impacted.

Football's governing body has decided to cancel the next FIFA Congress in Addis Ababa on June 5. It has also pushed back the coming FIFA Council meeting in Zurich, due to be on March 20, until June or July. Attendees may be required to join via a video link.

In France, the Coupe de la Ligue final on April 4 between Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon has been postponed. The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) said a new date would be announced in due course. It means the PSG-Metz and Lyon-Nimes Ligue 1 matches will be moved to the weekend of April 4-5 but be held behind closed doors. PSG will have Kylian Mbappe available against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, though: the striker is in the squad after overcoming illness, with L'Equipe among those to report he had tested negative for coronavirus.

Germany has seen the first confirmed instance of a footballer contracting coronavirus. Hannover defender Timo Hubers has tested positive but been praised by the club for his "absolutely exemplary" behaviour, as he immediately self-isolated before coming into contact with the rest of the squad.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will face Union Berlin on Saturday behind closed doors, and the latter's derby with Hertha Berlin on March 21 will take place under the same circumstances. Borussia Monchengladbach have urged fans not to gather outside the stadium ahead of Wednesday's match with Cologne.

FIFPro, the footballers' union, has urged governing bodies across the world "to respect the wishes of players to take short-term precautionary measures including suspending training or competitions". Steps are certainly being taken in Spain, where the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has recommended football at all levels beneath the top two professional leagues to be called off for two weeks. The RFEF will reportedly meet with league officials to discuss similar proposals for LaLiga and the Segunda Division.

Meanwhile, Roma's match with Sevilla in the Europa League last 16 on Thursday is off after the Italian club confirmed they had not been given permission by the government to fly to Andalusia. Getafe had already refused to travel for their game with Inter in Italy.

The big news in England was that Manchester City versus Arsenal was called off as a precaution after the Gunners came into contact with Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis, who announced on Tuesday that he had caught the disease. In general, though, the UK has not been following the same stringent protocols as some other European nations and that is continuing for now. Arsenal's match with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday has not been called off, while England's planned friendlies at Wembley this month against Italy and Denmark are, at present, going ahead. Forest have also confirmed all players and staff have tested negative for coronavirus.

In Scotland, Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says the domestic season must be completed, even if behind closed doors, "because people have earned the opportunity to get to the stage where everyone is at". League chief executive Neil Doncaster claimed last week that completing the Premiership season could become "very difficult".

The England and Wales Cricket Board has told supporters "to maintain good levels of hygiene" during England's tour of Sri Lanka. As a precaution, players and staff have been told to avoid casual interaction with fans, such as selfies and autographs.

In Bangladesh, the World XI v Asia XI matches that would have marked the birthday celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have been postponed, while the Indian Open has been called off following a consultation between the Indian Golf Union, the European Tour, the Asian Tour and tournament sponsors.

MotoGP has also announced that the Argentina Grand Prix has been moved to November. The opening race of the season in Qatar and the Grand Prix of the Americas have already been rescheduled.

A 12-year-old boy has been charged and reported in relation to the alleged racist abuse of a Rangers player during the Old Firm derby in December.

The incident allegedly took place during Rangers' 2-1 victory over Premiership champions Celtic on December 29.

The boy cannot be named for legal reasons, Police Scotland confirmed on Monday.

Superintendent Mark Sutherland of Greater Glasgow Division said: "Abuse of any form is completely unacceptable and Police Scotland will continue to rigorously investigate any reports of abuse we receive and bring those responsible before the relevant authorities.

"We'd remind the public that, as the person charged is below the age of 18, he cannot be named or identified for legal reasons as per the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995."

Rangers claimed their first league win at Celtic Park since 2010 thanks to goals from Ryan Kent and Nikola Katic either side of an Odsonne Edouard equaliser.

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos was sent off in second-half injury time after receiving a second yellow card for simulation.

Barcelona signed Brazilian midfielder Matheus Fernandes and Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao on transfer deadline day, but both players must wait for their chance to shine at Camp Nou.

Fernandes will join Quique Setien's squad from Palmeiras in July after a €10million package was agreed for the 21-year-old, who has played for the Brazil Under-20 team.

Braga accepted a €31m offer from Barca for 20-year-old forward Trincao, and he will also formally join the Catalan club's ranks at the end of the season.

Both players have agreed five-year contracts, the Blaugrana announced, with Fernandes' contract including a €300m buy-out clause and Trincao's deal showing a €500m clause.

Braga will take Barca's 18-year-old striker Abel Ruiz on loan until the end of the season and then make the deal permanent for €8m, with the LaLiga club having a buy-back option.

Barca were not the only Spanish club busy in the market though, with Celta Vigo signing striker Fyodor Smolov on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow until the end of the season.

Atletico Madrid re-signed Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco, almost two years after he left to join Chinese side Dalian Yifang. The 26-year-old joined until the end of the season on loan.
 

STAYING PUT

Deadline day was as notable for the deals that looked to have fallen through as those that were completed.

Paris Saint-Germain ruled out allowing Edinson Cavani to leave, as a host of clubs fancied taking the Uruguayan off their hands, while Chelsea refused to let France striker Olivier Giroud depart Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham were among the clubs keen on Giroud, but Jose Mourinho looked like missing out on the striker he wanted to strengthen a front-line depleted by the loss of injured England captain Harry Kane.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said Gareth Bale would not be leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

Manchester United remained linked with Bournemouth forward Joshua King, but time was running out for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to add new faces to his Old Trafford squad.

United made one signing, but it was a low-profile deal as England Under-20 goalkeeper Nathan Bishop arrived from third-tier Southend United.

Arsenal brought in defender Cedric Soares on loan from Southampton.

In Scotland, champions Celtic shipped out Scotland international Lewis Morgan to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, who are part-owned by David Beckham.

Belgian side Genk allowed attacking midfielder Ianis Hagi, son of Romanian great Gheorghe Hagi, to join Scottish giants Rangers on loan.
 

KOUAME, DUNCAN IN

Serie A transfer activity was dominated by Fiorentina, who signed Ivorian forward Christian Kouame from Genoa, initially on loan. The deal will be made permanent at the end of the season.

They also brought in Ghanaian midfielder Alfred Duncan from Sassuolo in a similar deal, a loan with an obligation to buy.

Reports in Italy said Kevin-Prince Boateng was set to leave Fiorentina among the incomings, with Besiktas his destination. Turkish giants Besiktas also snapped up 18-year-old Croatian midfielder Ajdin Hasic from Dinamo Zagreb on permanent terms.

Atalanta agreed a loan deal with Nice, acquiring defender Adrien Tameze from the Ligue 1 outfit with a purchase option.

World Cup winner Steven Nzonzi cut short a season-long loan from Roma to Galatasaray, returning to his French homeland with Rennes on a six-month loan with an option for a further year.
 

HERTHA BUSY

In the Bundesliga, Emre Can left Juventus for Borussia Dortmund on Friday evening, initially on loan until the end of the campaign but with a €25m fee agreed for a potential permanent transfer.

Elsewhere, Hertha Berlin followed up Thursday's signing of Krzysztof Piatek by prising 20-year-old Brazilian winger Matheus Cunha from table-toppers RB Leipzig, for whom he scored nine goals in 52 games.

Hertha managing director Michael Preetz said on the club's website: "We wanted to increase the quantity and improve the quality up front, which we have been able to do with the Piatek and Cunha transfers."

Leipzig also offloaded Austrian midfielder Stefan Ilsanker to Eintracht Frankfurt. He spent four-and-a-half years at Leipzig, joining them in the second tier.

Werder Bremen signed striker Davie Selke on an 18-month loan from Hertha, the 25-year-old returning to the club where he began his professional career.

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson has reiterated the club's support of VAR in a statement which claims striker Alfredo Morelos is "singled out for special attention" in Scottish football.

Steven Gerrard's side claimed an away Old Firm victory in the Scottish Premiership for the first time in 10 attempts on Sunday as Nikola Katic's winner saw them beat Celtic 2-1.

Yet Rangers, who moved to within two points of their rivals at the top of the table, with a game in hand, ended the match unhappy with the officials.

Odsonne Edouard's initial equaliser for Celtic appeared to strike his arm, while Morelos was sent off late on - his seventh Rangers dismissal - receiving his second booking for diving as his miserable goalless Old Firm record continued.

The absence of VAR - the system much-maligned in England's Premier League on the same day - in Scottish football is of frustration to Rangers, as Robertson explained on Monday.

"This is not a criticism of referees because they often have to perform under very difficult conditions and in a highly emotive environment, as do our players and coaches," Robertson said.

"The speed at which the modern game is played also means it is extremely difficult to make split-second calls with the degree of certainty required.

"We believe the introduction of VAR would help referees enormously and reduce the number of wrong decisions which sometimes have a dramatic effect on the outcome of matches.

"In recent weeks, Rangers has suffered from errors of judgement but it is our strong view that VAR would be to the benefit of everyone and in particular the referees themselves."

Rangers' statement highlighted three "glaring errors", referring to Edouard's goal, the non-award of a penalty for Morelos against Aberdeen, along with Celtic's offside winner in the Scottish League Cup final.

The release went on to defend Morelos, who has been criticised for an apparent throat-cutting gesture following his red card at Celtic Park.

The club said: "There can be little doubt Alfredo is singled out for special attention, on and off the field of play.

"Indeed, some of the things said and written about him leave a lot to be desired and do nothing to suggest Scottish football is the most welcoming of environments.

"Even Alfredo's gesture as he left the pitch is now being portrayed in some quarters as something sinister when, in fact, it is a gesture used commonly throughout South America to indicate quite simply that something – in this case, the match – is finished."

Rangers cut the gap to leaders Celtic down to two points in the Scottish Premiership thanks to a 2-1 victory at their Old Firm rivals on Sunday, despite another red card for Alfredo Morelos.

Nikola Katic's 56th-minute header secured Rangers their first league triumph at Celtic Park in 10 attempts, raising hopes for Steven Gerrard's squad they may finally be able to end Celtic's long run of dominance in the top flight.

While the reigning champions remain at the summit, their Glasgow neighbours have a game in hand as they bid to lift the title for the first time since 2010-11.

The only setback for Gerrard was the late dismissal of Morelos, who was sent off for the seventh time in his Rangers career after picking up a second booking for diving during added time.

Both teams had scored during a crazy nine-minute spell in the first half that saw a missed penalty, a Rangers opener and a fortuitous equaliser from a familiar scorer in these fixtures.

The visitors were on top before Katic presented Celtic the chance to take the lead by holding on to Christopher Jullien's shirt at a corner, the infringement spotted by referee Kevin Clancy.

However, Allan McGregor helped out his team-mate by turning away Ryan Christie's spot kick - and Rangers went ahead soon after when Ryan Kent swept in Borna Barisic's square pass with his left foot.

Celtic had struggled in attack but benefited from a fortunate break to draw level, Callum McGregor's shot going in off Odsonne Edouard, with the deflection - seemingly off an arm - wrongfooting goalkeeper McGregor.

Yet Rangers recovered from the unfortunate setback to retake the lead early in the second half, Barisic again the provider as his corner picked out the run of fellow Croatian Katic.

Steven Davis preserved the visitors' narrow advantage when he headed off the line from Jullien for a second time in the contest, while Morelos - still yet to score against Celtic - received his marching orders too late for the hosts to capitalise on the man advantage.

Mino Raiola holds all the cards when it comes to Manchester United's transfer plans.

United are interested in Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland, while Paul Pogba wants to reportedly leave Old Trafford.

With that in mind, the Red Devils may be forced to pick between the two.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND IN, POGBA OUT?

Manchester United are worried signing Salzburg striker Erling Haaland may force Paul Pogba out of the club, according to the Daily Star. 

United are interest in-demand sensation Haaland, who has also been linked to Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig

Haaland is represented by Mino Raiola, who is also the agent of United star Pogba – previously linked to former club Juve and LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

United fear Raiola could throw a spanner in the works as doubts remain over Pogba's future in Manchester.

 

ROUND-UP

- Premier League champions Manchester City have identified Villarreal's Pau Torres and Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias as possible defensive reinforcements in January, reports The Telegraph.

- Express Sport says Chelsea are unwilling to meet Dortmund's £100million (€117m) valuation of star Jadon Sancho, who has also been linked to United, Liverpool and Madrid. Chelsea are believed to be keeping tabs on Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

Arsenal pair Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi could leave Arsenal in January, reports Football London. Turkish giants Fenerbahce have emerged as a possible destination for Ozil.

Rangers have made contact with out-of-favour Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud over a possible move to Glasgow, according to L'Equipe.  Coming off contract at the end of the season, Giroud has also been linked to Inter.

Manchester United and Arsenal were handed tricky Europa League last-32 ties against Club Brugge and Olympiacos respectively, while Inter take on Ludogorets.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United side face Belgian outfit Brugge, who finished third in a Champions League group including Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

The Red Devils, winners of the competition in 2016-17, topped their Europa League pool, losing just once with a youthful side at Astana.

Struggling Arsenal will have been eyeing a more favourable draw than Olympiacos, who are familiar with north London having faced Tottenham in the Champions League.

Inter were unfortunate not to make the last 16 of the Champions League, losing out to Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, but Antonio Conte's side will fancy their chances against Bulgarian side Ludogorets.

Sevilla, who are the competition's most successful club, with five wins across the UEFA Cup and Europa League, will have to overcome Cluj to make the last 16.

Old Firm duo Celtic and Rangers take on Copenhagen and Braga, while Premier League side Wolves lock horns with LaLiga strugglers Espanyol.

Ajax, Champions League semi-finalists last season, also face Spanish opposition in the form of Getafe, and Roma – who reached the last four of Europe's premier competition in 2017-18 – go up against Gent.

Bayer Leverkusen take on two-time winners Porto in one of the round's stand-out ties, as Shakhtar Donetsk and Benfica – two demoted Champions League outfits – face off.

Having impressed against Liverpool and Napoli, Salzburg play Eintracht Frankfurt.

First-leg games take place on February 20, with the return fixtures a week later.

Steven Gerrard has signed a two-year contract extension to keep him as Rangers manager until 2024, the club have confirmed.

Liverpool great Gerrard, 39, confirmed earlier this week talks over a new deal were at an advanced stage and confirmation of an agreement arrived on Friday.

The former midfielder took charge at Rangers ahead of the 2018-19 season and led them to a second-placed finish, but they look set to run Celtic much closer this term and Gerrard is thrilled to see the club building towards success once again.

"I'm delighted to be extending my stay at this fantastic football club," Gerrard told the club's website.

"When Dave King [chairman] approached me about the possibility of extending my contract with Rangers, it was a very easy decision to make because I'm very happy and feel that we are building something special together at the club.

"I'd like to thank the board for the backing they have given me already in my time at the club and also most importantly, the Rangers fans who have given me and the team such tremendous backing both this season and last."

Although Rangers ended nine points adrift of Scottish Premiership champions Celtic last season, they improved on their third-place finish from the campaign before and are on track for a real title tussle in 2020.

After 15 matches, Rangers are just two points adrift of Celtic, with the pair running away from the rest of the pack, as Motherwell in third are seven points further behind despite playing two matches more.

Gerrard's contract extension comes as a major show of faith less than a week after losing 1-0 to Celtic in Sunday's thrilling League Cup final.

Rangers were the better side for much of the contest but failed to make the most of Celtic being down to 10 men for the final 27 minutes following Jeremie Frimpong's dismissal.

They followed that up with a 1-1 draw with Young Boys in the Europa League on Thursday, securing their progress to the knockout phase from a tricky pool that also included Porto and Feyenoord.

Steven Gerrard has revealed he is on the brink of signing a contract extension with Rangers.

Rangers appointed Gerrard on a four-year deal in May 2018 and the former Liverpool midfielder led them to second in the Scottish Premiership in his first season in charge.

The 39-year-old missed out on a first piece of silverware in senior management after a controversial 1-0 loss to rivals Celtic in the Scottish League Cup final on Sunday.

However, Gerrard remains committed to guiding the club back to their previous heights after they were relegated to the Third Division for the 2012-13 season.

"The club approached me probably a week, 10 days ago about a new deal and it's a pretty simple decision as far as I'm concerned," said the Liverpool legend.

"I'm happy here and I'm as hungry and determined to get the good days back here as I ever was, so talks have been pretty straightforward and positive.

"When it's signed and announced you'll have to wait and see."

Gerrard stated official confirmation of renewals for Allan McGregor and Steven Davis could arrive after Rangers take on Young Boys on Thursday with a place in the last 32 of the Europa League on the line. He also hopes to tie down Bournemouth loanee Jermain Defoe beyond this season.

"[Extensions for] Allan McGregor and Steven Davis are imminent. That'll be very close and will probably be announced after Thursday's game. But that's all agreed," said Gerrard.

"They're two players I want around for a year's extension on top of this year.

"Jermain's is a bit different because he's a Bournemouth player until the end of the season but it's a similar situation in the fact that we want him to stay around.

"We'll obviously deal with that as and when we need to."

With Neymar's future far from certain, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly planning for life without the star forward.

Neymar appears to covet a Barcelona reunion, after leaving the LaLiga champions two years ago.

Should Neymar's wish be granted, an African sensation lighting up Anfield is said to be on the agenda.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR OUT, MANE IN

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want Liverpool star Sadio Mane to replace Neymar, report France Football and Mundo Deportivo.

PSG star Neymar wanted to leave Paris during the previous transfer window, but a proposed return to Barcelona did not materialise.

Doubts remain over Neymar – who left Barca for PSG in a €222million transfer in 2017 – and the French powerhouse are said to have identified Mane should the Brazilian depart the capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Napoli have agreed a deal for former Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso to replace head coach Carlo Ancelotti. It comes with Ancelotti on the brink amid a nine-match winless streak ahead of Tuesday's crucial Champions League clash against Genk.

Manchester City are set to rival Chelsea for Bournemouth's Nathan Ake, says Sky Sports. Chelsea want to bring Ake back to Stamford Bridge following his exit in 2017. However, Premier League champions City are reportedly interested amid their defensive woes.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been offered an 18-month contract by Napoli, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. The 38-year-old is a free agent after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy and he has been linked to Milan and Inter.

- Sport claims Inter want to sign either Ivan Rakitic or Arturo Vidal from Barcelona in January. Antonio Conte is determined to bolster his squad as Inter challenge for Scudetto honours and juggle Champions League commitments. Rakitic has also been linked to Serie A holders Juventus.

Everton hope to have Vitor Pereira installed as manager for Sunday's Premier League fixture at Manchester United, according to Sky Sports. After sacking Marco Silva, the Toffees are ready to offer the Shanghai SIPG coach a three-year deal. It comes as Sky Sports also reports former Arsenal boss Unai Emery was approached about the Everton job.

- The Mirror says Manchester United are ready to show their faith in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by backing him in moves for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez and Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland. The spotlight was on Solskjaer following a poor run of form and Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham exit. However, the Norwegian has overseen consecutive victories over Tottenham and Manchester City.

Bayern Munich and Manchester City are monitoring the progress of Rangers teenager Kai Kennedy, says the Daily Record.

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says his players and the assistant referee need to share responsibility for the 1-0 Scottish League Cup final defeat to Celtic on Sunday, but concedes officials need more help than they are getting.

Gerrard's side were comfortably the more dominant throughout, carving out a host of clear opportunities and then missing a penalty through Alfredo Morelos just moments after Christopher Jullien's goal for Celtic, who played much of the second half with 10 men.

Replays appeared to show Jullien in an offside position when he tucked home Ryan Christie's free-kick, leaving Gerrard frustrated the goal was not ruled out, with VAR not yet introduced to Scottish football.

"Finals are normally decided on big moments and the big moments haven't gone in our favour," he told a media conference.

"We conceded from a set-piece, which we shouldn't have given away. Once you concede it, you have to defend it better.

"There were three Celtic players standing in offside positions but unfortunately we play in a country where there is no VAR.

"I think it [VAR] has taken something away from the game, so I'd be a liar if I said I'm 100 per cent in favour of it.

"But one thing I do know is that the officials up here do need some support and help because there are too many things, not just for our club but across the board, that they maybe miss and need a bit of support on.

"I'm not the type of person who blames or look for excuses. The big moments have gone against us today; we are all responsible for that.

"But the reality is, at the top end of football, you expect the linesman to get one of them right from the three who were in an offside position."

Many were surprised to see Morelos take the crucial spot-kick ahead of regular taker James Tavernier, but Gerrard was quick to dismiss suggestions his captain passed up the opportunity to step forward.

"Alfredo was the nominated penalty taker," he explained. "It was nothing to do with James passing the buck or anything like that. I decided we needed to change that up.

"Unfortunately, we haven't taken our chance in that big moment. People will look back at that moment as the chance to swing the momentum of the whole game in our favour, although we were much the stronger team throughout the 90 minutes anyway."

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster says experiences like Sunday's Scottish League Cup triumph are the reason he returned to the club.

Forster enjoyed four years at Celtic between 2010 and 2014 before joining Premier League side Southampton.

He returned north of the border on loan in August, however, and put in an inspired display at Hampden Park as Celtic overcame bitter rivals Rangers 1-0 to register a 10th consecutive domestic trophy.

The 31-year-old produced a string of saves to frustrate Steven Gerrard's side – the pick of which was a penalty stop from Alfredo Morelos just minutes after Christopher Jullien had put Celtic ahead.

Forster told BBC Scotland: "As long as you win, that's all that matters. We really had to fight and grind it out.

"It was just one of them days; it went my way today. I'm buzzing. There's been days when it's not gone my way, today it has. I can't say how much it means to me.

"I didn't really think about the penalty to be honest. I picked the way it went. I'll take it. That's why I came back, to play in games like this, to win silverware, to play European football."

Celtic boss Neil Lennon hailed the contribution of his keeper and says he is in awe of his side's mentality.

"Fraser Forster was outstanding," he said. "He made some unbelievable saves, world-class saves.

"We didn't get going in the first half, but second half we were better. The mentality of the team is amazing. They've won 10 [domestic trophies] in a row – I don't know how they do it.

"This team just doesn't know when it's beaten. They still dig it out and dig it out. They're amazing.

"We are talking 10 major trophies now in a row. We don't want to give anything up. We weren't great today but we still won - and that's what cup football is all about."

Celtic survived the dismissal of Jeremie Frimpong to claim a 10th consecutive domestic trophy with a 1-0 win over bitter rivals Rangers in the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park.

Neil Lennon's side were second best for long periods but a combination of Christopher Jullien's 60th-minute goal and a string of fine saves from Fraser Forster ensured Steven Gerrard's wait for a first piece of silverware in his managerial career goes on.

Celtic looked like they had gift-wrapped Rangers a way back into the game just minutes after Jullien's strike, Frimpong dismissed for hauling down Alfredo Morelos inside the penalty area.

As had been the case throughout the match, however, Forster was equal to the Colombian's effort from 12 yards, making sure Celtic maintained their run of dominance in Scottish football.

Rangers had started with a spring in their step, Connor Goldson heading wide from a corner and Forster superbly pawing away Ryan Jack's swerving 25-yard drive inside the opening 15 minutes.

The Celtic goalkeeper then stood firm to repel Morelos' strike after he had raced away from Kristoffer Ajer, then denied Rangers' leading scorer again after he had been played in behind the Celtic defence.

Rangers continued to look threatening at the start of the second period, Morelos flashing agonisingly across the face of goal after being picked out at the back post.

Those misses came back to haunt Rangers on the hour mark, though, when an unmarked Jullien stole in at the back post to convert Ryan Christie's free-kick to give his side the lead.

Rangers were handed an immediate chance to restore parity with Frimpong’s foul following some slapstick defending from Celtic, but Morelos' weak spot-kick was turned away by Forster.

Substitute Michael Johnston inexplicably fired wide after being played clean through, whil there was still time for one final Morelos miss - the forward dragging narrowly wide deep into stoppage time, as Celtic held on for yet another win in a major final.

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