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Celtic 1 Motherwell 0 match report: Gary Hooper"s 18th of the season extends Bhoys" lead

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0: Hooper's 18th of the season extends Bhoys' lead at the summit

PUBLISHED:

17:05 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 2 January 2013

Gary Hooper's late strike gave Celtic victory over Motherwell in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League encounter at Parkhead.

Hoops keeper Fraser Forster made a brilliant save from Tom Hateley's penalty, awarded for Kelvin Wilson's challenge on Jamie Murphy, just before the Englishman converted a Georgios Samaras cross from close range with 11 minutes remaining.

Not for the first time this season at home, though, the champions ended up struggling to get three points from a match that should have been over by the interval.

Well keeper Darren Randolph kept Celtic at bay with a series of saves although there were some glaring misses too before Hooper pounced to take Neil Lennon's side into the winter break nine points clear of Inverness at the top of the table.

It's that man again: Gary Hooper slots past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph

It's that man again: Gary Hooper slots past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose (Rogne 84), Wilson, Izaguirre, Commons (McGeouch 82), Kayal (Watt 72), Wanyama, Mulgrew, Samaras, Hooper. Subs not used: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, Chalmers.

Booked: Mulgrew, Kayal, Wanyama, Forster.

Goal: Hooper 79.

Motherwell: Randolph, Hateley, Kerr, Ramsden, Hammell, Humphrey, Law, Lasley, Francis-Angol (Daley 86), Ojamaa (McHugh 86), Murphy. Subs not used: Hollis, Higdon, Carswell, Hetherington, Cummins.

Booked: Ojamaa, Lasley.

Referee: Steven McLean.

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However, Motherwell manager Stuart
McCall, set to lose forward Murphy to Sheffield United this week, will
wonder how different it might have been had Hateley scored from the
spot.

Lennon made four changes and returned
to a back four after admitting three at the back did not work in the
1-0 defeat by Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday.

In came Adam Matthews, Beram Kayal,
Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew with skipper Scott Brown, Mikael
Lustig, Lassad Nouioui and Thomas Rogne dropping out, the latter two on
the bench.

Motherwell showed two changes with
Fraser Kerr and Zaine Francis-Angol in for Shaun Hutchinson and Michael
Higdon, the big striker consigned to the bench where he watched the home
side's whirlwind start suggest a demolition job.

Samaras had the ball in the net from Commons' cross in the second minute but was flagged offside.
Commons then flashed a shot from the edge of the box just wide after
being set up by Hooper, who then turned and drove wide after taking a
Kayal pass with his back to goal.

In the seventh minute Randolph made a
fine save from Hooper's stab from close range after more good work on
the left from Samaras, before tipping stand-in skipper Mulgrew's curling
free-kick over the bar for a corner.

Hands on: Fraser Forster saves Tom Hateley's penalty

Hands on: Fraser Forster saves Tom Hateley's penalty

There was no let-up in the pressure
on the Motherwell goal and moments later Randolph flew to his left to
pluck a goal-bound Commons shot out of the air.

The Hoops support groaned once more
when Victor Wanyama then missed Mulgrew's corner altogether from eight
yards, allowing Well to clear their lines.

Murphy, skipper for the day, should
have put the visitors ahead following a break in the 20th minute when he
was played in by Keith Lasley but he lashed the ball over the bar.

Defender Efe Ambrose guided Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick past the near post from six yards out.
Motherwell slowly grew in confidence as the first half wore on.

Mixed emotions: Neil Lennon applauds Hooper's winner

Mixed emotions: Neil Lennon applauds Hooper's winner

In the 37th minute Murphy tested
Forster with a drive from the edge of the box and moments later curled a
shot from 14 yards past the far post after working his way past Kayal
and into a good shooting position.

Samaras had a low drive from 20 yards saved by Randolph.

With seconds remaining Ambrose missed
the chance of the half when Randolph dropped Wanyama's header from a
Mulgrew corner, the Parkhead defender hooking the ball over the bar from
barely two yards.

Celtic had an unconvincing start to
the second period but with six minutes gone Randolph tipped a deflected
shot from Wanyama over the bar.

Celtic dropped the tempo which
allowed Well to breath slightly easier but Randolph was still seeing
plenty of the ball, making another decent save from Commons'
right-footed drive from 25 yards in the 67th minute.

Watching brief: Norwich boss Chris Hughton was running the rule over potential targets at Parkhead

Watching brief: Norwich boss Chris Hughton was running the rule over potential targets at Parkhead

Both sides were taking turns to
attack but Motherwell were handed a great chance to take the lead when
referee Steven McLean adjudged Wilson to have tripped Murphy in the box.

There was some concern as to whether
Hateley had the ball on the spot or not – and Forster was booked for
pointing this out – but when the Motherwell player blasted his shot to
his left the Celtic flew across to make a great save.

The incident seemed to energise
Celtic and they were soon in the lead when Hooper played the ball to
Samaras and ran into the box to collect the return pass and slip the
ball under Randolph from six yards.

There were some nervy moments before the final whistle as Motherwell went for broke but in the end Celtic deserved their win.

Rangers 2 Motherwell 0: Match report

Rangers 2 Motherwell 0: McCulloch and Shiels show Gers can still mix it with the big boys

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UPDATED:

20:54 GMT, 26 September 2012

Rangers showed they can still compete with the top sides in the country by dumping in-form Motherwell out of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

The Light Blues faced top-flight opposition for the first time since being consigned to liquidation and voted into the Irn-Bru Third Division in the summer when the Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders came calling in the third round tie.

Motherwell were branded favourites by their hosts ahead of this game but any hopes of claiming a first win at Ibrox since 1997 were dashed by goals from Lee McCulloch and Dean Shiels as Rangers booked their place in the quarter-finals.

Flying high: Rangers' Lee McCulloch celebrates scoring against Motherwell

Flying high: Rangers' Lee McCulloch celebrates scoring against Motherwell

Match facts:

Rangers: Alexander, Faure, Perry, Emilson Cribari, Wallace, Argyriou, McCulloch, Macleod, Aird (McKay 81), Sandaza (Hutton 24), Shiels (Crawford 75).

Subs Not Used: Gallacher, Stella.

Booked: McCulloch.

Goals: McCulloch 50, Shiels 56.

Motherwell: Randolph, Kerr, Hutchinson, Cummins, Hammell (Francis-Angol 65), Humphrey (Daley 72), Hateley (Murphy 64), Lasley, Law, Ojamaa, Higdon.

Subs Not Used: Hollis, Ramsden.

Booked: Hammell, Daley.

Attendance: 29,413

Referee: Calum Murray

Ally McCoist made two changes to his side from the weekend after Ian Black failed to recover from a hamstring injury and Barrie McKay was dropped to the bench.

Francisco Sandaza was drafted into the starting line-up and Fraser Aird made his first start after an impressive debut from the bench against Montrose.

Motherwell named an unchanged side after being held to a 3-3 draw by Aberdeen in their last outing.
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Rangers this season was starting games too slowly but they were out of the traps quickly, as the stadium rocked.

Clearly, both players and fans were relishing the return of top-flight opposition to Govan and it was Rangers who almost drew first blood.

Aird looked dangerous down the left flank and delivered a teasing ball into the box for Sandaza but he failed to connect properly and produce a clean shot.

The first effort on target fell to Motherwell when Tom Hateley had a go from the edge of the area but goalkeeper Neil Alexander was able to claim comfortably.

Hateley then turned provider for Henrik Ojamaa but he was forced too wide before unleashing and Alexander was again up to the task and gathered with ease.

Showing they can still do it: Rangers Anestis Argyriou and Motherwell's Zan Francis-Angol battle for the ball

Showing they can still do it: Rangers Anestis Argyriou and Motherwell's Zan Francis-Angol battle for the ball

There was concern for both sides when Sandaza and Shaun Hutchison both required treatment following a sickening clash of heads.

Hutchison left the pitch with blood pouring from a head wound and returned several minutes later after receiving stitches but the match was over for a groggy-looking Sandaza who was taken down the tunnel on a stretcher.

Kyle Hutton was thrown into the action for the striker with 24 minutes gone, making his first appearance since the League Cup win over East Fife in early August.

Showing what it means: Rangers team captain and goalscorer Lee McCulloch celebrates as the final whistle

Showing what it means: Rangers team captain and goalscorer Lee McCulloch celebrates as the final whistle

Pain game: Motherwell's Nicky Law cuts a dejected figure at full-time

Pain game: Motherwell's Nicky Law cuts a dejected figure at full-time

Both sides looked capable of finding the back of the net and Rangers came close when Shiels' cut-back found McCulloch and he drove just over the crossbar from 10 yards.

At the other end, Nicky Law found himself one on one with Alexander but the Rangers goalkeeper raced off his line to clear the danger before the midfielder could unleash the shot.

The second half was just four minutes old when Rangers opened the scoring.

Aird's short corner was punted into the box by Shiels where McCulloch was waiting to take advantage of poor marking by Motherwell and nod home from six yards.

Rangers doubled their lead after 56 minutes when Anestis Argyriou squared into the path of Shiels in plenty of space to volley past the helpless Darren Randolph.

Bundle: Rangers' players celebrate as they jump on team mate Dean Shiels after he scored

Bundle: Rangers' players celebrate as they jump on team mate Dean Shiels after he scored

The Steelmen could have pulled a goal back with a free-kick just outside the box but a swerving effort from Hateley was tipped wide by a full-stretch Alexander.

The tie could have been all but over for Motherwell when Aird forced his way past two defenders into the box only for his low shot to be blocked by the legs of Randolph.

The visitors tried to haul themselves back into the match and Ojamaa went to ground under pressure from Ross Perry but there was no penalty from referee Calum Murray.

Goalscorer Shiels appeared to take a knock and was replaced by youngster Robbie Crawford, before fellow substitute McKay was denied late on by Randolph, as Rangers held on for the morale-boosting victory.

Motherwell 0 Panathinaikos 2: Champions League dream in tatters

Motherwell 0 Panathinaikos 2: Harsh lesson for Champions League rookies

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UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 31 July 2012

Even Hercules might baulk at the task now facing Motherwell in the home of ancient mythology.

Their very presence in the Champions
League has carried a sense of wonder, but god-like status in the eyes of
supporters beckoned for Stuart McCall and his players if they could
find a way beyond Panathinaikos. Last night, though, they bumped back to
earth as mere mortals.

Of course, the tie still has another
90 minutes to run. But for Motherwell to sustain their interest in the
elite European competition, they will have to produce a performance in
Athens’ Olympic stadium to outstrip any by Team GB at London 2012.

Well-beaten: Keith Lasley reacts as Motherwell's Champions League hopes slip away

Well-beaten: Keith Lasley reacts as Motherwell's Champions League hopes slip away

The first leg of this third qualifying round tie was decided by a 13th-minute goal from Greek playmaker Lazaros Christodoulopoulos — whose free-kick bounced into the net without another touch — and a second-half breakaway finished by substitute Charis Mavrias.

Panathinaikos possessed an extra touch of attacking class against the side who finished third in last season’s SPL and benefited from Rangers’ financial meltdown.

Christodoulopoulos and Ivorian midfielder Ibrahim Sissoko were outstanding for the visitors, who were able to pick holes in a home defence lacking both match fitness and experience together as a unit.

Somehow forcing an early goal in next Wednesday’s second leg would allow belief to linger for Motherwell and there were times last night when posed a threat. Again, though, they lacked the required composure of their expensively salaried opponents.

Opener: Former Rangers star Boumsong celebrates after Randolph's error

Opener: Former Rangers star Boumsong celebrates after Randolph's error

Defeat against one of the powerhouses of
Greek football would be far from a disgrace for McCall’s men, nor would
it mark the end of their European journey as they would enter the
play-off round for the Europa League. Yet Motherwell’s players would
still have returned home last night nursing a sense of frustration that,
despite all the effort and passion they exhibited, it wasn’t enough to
force a breakthrough.

Of the previous 11 European ties the club had played, spread over 21
years, Fir Park had witnessed a victory on only five occasions. That was
a record boss McCall sought to improve through the selection of an
extremely positive line-up that contained a potent attack-minded quartet
of Chris Humphrey, Jamie Murphy, Henrik Ojamaa and Michael Higdon.
Sadly, fortune did not favour the brave.

Perhaps only the famous encounter with Borussia Dortmund in the
mid-1990s had presented a more formidable obstacle for Motherwell than
this Greek institution steeped in history on the continental stage.

But Panathinaikos have not been immune from the financial chaos that has
gripped their nation and they need to bank Champions League income
after problems in paying their players. Yet they could still afford to
field talent in the mould of former Rangers centre-half Jean-Alain
Boumsong.

All bar around 200 of the 9,035 crowd were Motherwell fans, but their
backing was not enough to guide McCall’s men through a nervy start.
There had been warning signs from the off about the danger posed by Sissoko as he menaced Motherwell on the left flank.

Greek odyssey: the visitors travel home firm favourites

Greek odyssey: the visitors travel home firm favourites

An early foul on him by Keith Lasley allowed Christodoulopoulos the
opportunity to curl a sighter just wide before Sissoko scampered past
Tom Hateley to deliver a cross that Toche headed over. A smashed shot
that soared fractionally off target from Humphrey was the sole home
response.

This was the first time Motherwell had fielded a central defence of new
signing Simon Ramsden and fit-again Shaun Hutchinson and that was
beginning to show as Panathinaikos pressed for an opening. When
Hutchinson then needlessly fouled Sissoko, McCall bolted from his
technical area to urge caution. He knew the risk from conceding
set-pieces and, depressingly, his fears were promptly realised.

Christodoulopoulos delivered an inswinger into the area aimed for
Boumsong. The Frenchman just failed to connect, but his presence
deceived Darren Randolph as the ball sped straight into the net.
It took time for Motherwell to regain their composure, but they managed
to begin posing questions of the Greeks thanks to Murphy’s promptings.

He whipped a tremendous cross to the far post that Humphrey just could
not reach, before a slipped pass allowed Lasley a decent opportunity
that he sent too high. Murphy was again the supplier from the left when
he picked out Higdon for a downward header that was clutched by Orestis
Karnezis.

Panathinaikos were, though, to close the opening period on the front
foot. Christodoulopoulos rattled another effort inches wide, but
midfielder Zeca went even closer with a 30-yard thump thwarted by the
keeper’s fingertips.

Double trouble: Mavrias extends Panathinaikos' lead

Double trouble: Mavrias extends Panathinaikos' lead

The goalscorer reprised his role as tormentor-in-chief shortly after the
restart when he combined with Toche before arcing a beautiful attempt
narrowly past. Motherwell’s fans turned up the volume in an attempt to
inspire a fightback and there were flickers of hope when a Hateley
free-kick was pushed out by Karnezis, with the goalkeeper unconvincing
when dealing with a long-range Steven Hammell strike.

The sheer persistence of Ojamaa was beginning to make inroads against a
previously sound visitors’ defence and he burrowed for possession inside
the area before finding the onrushing Nicky Law. He would surely have
delivered an equaliser but for an outstanding block by Boumsong.

Ultimately, Motherwell’s attacking intent cost them a second goal. With
home players committed forward, Panathinaikos pinched possession and
Sissoko advanced before sliding a perfect ball for Mavrias. He was
unerring with a low finish under Randolph.

Plenty to ponder: Well boss Stuart McCall

Plenty to ponder: Well boss Stuart McCall

Rangers 0 Motherwell 0: McCoist wraps up sorry season Ibrox with Steelmen draw

Rangers 0 Motherwell 0: Sorry Gers wrap up final home game with Steelmen draw

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UPDATED:

14:12 GMT, 5 May 2012

Rangers' final game at Ibrox this season ended in stalemate as they were held to a goalless draw by Motherwell in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The club had dedicated the match to the fans – with the number 12 jersey to be retired from next season in honour of the support – but the Light Blues faithful left without the win they craved.

As well as taking a point from this clash, third-placed Motherwell also claim the Champions League spot which has been denied administration-hit Rangers next term.

Stalemate: Neither side could find a way through to seal the three points

Stalemate: Neither side could find a way through to seal the three points

MATCH FACTS

Rangers: McGregor, Bartley, Goian (Perry 30), Bocanegra, Whittaker, Edu, McCabe (Bedoya 66), Ness (Little 66), Wallace, Aluko, McCulloch.

Subs not used: Alexander, Broadfoot, Healy, Mitchell.

Booked: Ness

Motherwell: Randolph, Hateley, Hutchinson, Clancy, Hammell, Humphrey, Jennings, Lasley, Law, Ojamaa (McHugh 84), Murphy.

Subs not used: Hollis, Saunders, Craigan, Daley, Forbes, Carswell.

Booked: Hutchinson

Referee: William Collum (Scotland)

Rangers made one change from the side who thrashed Dundee United 5-0 midweek for the visit of Well.

Salim Kerkar missed out with an ankle
problem and was replaced by Lee McCulloch, who recovered from the knock
that restricted him to a late substitute appearance against United.

Motherwell also made a single change after beating Hearts, with Henrik Ojamaa replacing the injured Michael Higdon.

Rangers had the best of the chances
early on and Sone Aluko set up McCulloch for the shot inside the box in
the opening minutes but his effort was blocked by Tom Hateley.

Kyle Bartley then had a go from the
edge of the area but goalkeeper Darren Randolph was untroubled as the
shot dipped just over the crossbar.

The home side continued to push
forward in search of the opener and McCulloch's cutback was collected by
Aluko but his tame shot was gathered by Randolph.

Rangers were forced to make a change
after just half an hour when Dorin Goian limped off, with what looked
like a knee problem, and was replaced by Ross Perry.

Motherwell then carved out a couple of
half-chances and Ojamaa did well to round goalkeeper Allan McGregor but
opted to play the pass rather than have a shot at goal himself.

Heads up: rangers season is ending with a whimper on the field

Heads up: rangers season is ending with a whimper on the field

Heads up: rangers season is ending with a whimper on the field

With five goals to enjoy on Wednesday
night, Rangers fans grew restless as the home side failed to convert
their superior possession into a goal before the break.

Both teams looked livelier after the
restart and Steven Whittaker tested Randolph, before McGregor was called
into action to block a low shot from Keith Lasley.

Whittaker then attempted to turn provider with a cross for McCulloch but the big utility man nodded wide of target.

Motherwell had a decent chance when
Chris Humphrey burst into the box and tried to set up the shot for Jamie
Murphy in front of goal but Perry managed to clear the danger.

Credit due: McCoist salutes the Rangers fans as McCall encourages his players at Ibrox

Credit due: McCoist salutes the Rangers fans as McCall encourages his players at Ibrox

Credit due: McCoist salutes the Rangers fans as McCall encourages his players at Ibrox

At the other end, Randolph stood tall to block one on one from Lee Wallace.

Rangers made a double change when Andy
Little and Alejandro Bedoya were thrown into the action in place of
Jamie Ness and Rhys McCabe.

The Glasgow giants should have opened
the scoring when Aluko's corner was met by Carlos Bocanegra but Little
inadvertently blocked the header from finding the back of the net.

Maurice Edu pounced on the rebound but Randolph was up to the task again with another fine save.

Rangers claimed for a penalty when
Little went to ground in the box but the pleas were ignored by referee
Willie Collum as the match ended goalless.

Tribute: the Ibrox faithful say thanks to manager Ally McCoist

Tribute: the Ibrox faithful say thanks to manager Ally McCoist

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0: Hooper makes it 14 in a row as Hoops go 23 points clear

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0: Hooper makes it 14 in a row as Hoops go 23 points clear

By
Sportsmail Reporter

Last updated at 6:44 PM on 25th February 2012

Gary Hooper's second-half strike was enough to beat Motherwell and take Celtic 23 points clear of administration-hit Rangers at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

After a lacklustre first half, the former Scunthorpe striker latched on to a Georgios Samaras knock-down in the 59th minute and fired in from close range for his 20th goal of the season.

Celtic were not at their best, but it was a game they never looked like losing and Darren Randolph was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers.

On target: Gary Hooper fires Celtic ahead

On target: Gary Hooper fires Celtic ahead

MATCH FACTS

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Rogne, Kelvin Wilson, Mulgrew, Forrest (Commons 88), Wanyama (Stokes 58), Ki, Ledley, Samaras, Hooper (Cha 76). Subs not used: Zaluska, Majstorovic, Brozek, Izaguirre.

Booked: Kelvin Wilson.

Scorer: Hooper 59.

Motherwell: Randolph, Clancy, Law, Hutchinson, Hammell, Hateley, Jennings, Lasley, Murphy (Humphrey 64), Ojamaa (Daley 79), Higdon. Subs not used: Bradley, Craigan, Forbes, Page, Carswell.

Booked: Hutchinson, Hateley, Hammell, Ojamaa.

Referee: Allan Crawford.

Attendance: 53,486.

The Hoops fans left after watching their side record their 14th straight win as they continue their quest for the treble, but with so little competition in the league there may be a few more days like this before the title is clinched.

But Celtic manager Neil Lennon could surely not care less about the manner in which his team wrest the championship back from Ibrox.

In trying to keep a big squad involved in the run-in to what he hopes will be a domestic treble, Lennon made five changes to the side which beat Dunfermline 2-0 in midweek.

In came defenders Adam Matthews and Thomas Rogne, midfielders Victor Wanyama, James Forrest and striker Samaras for Cha Du-ri, Emilio Izaguirre, Kris Commons and Anthony Stokes, who all dropped to the bench, with captain Scott Brown missing with a groin injury.

Motherwell were looking for a win that would have taken them level on points with Rangers.
Well skipper Keith Lasley returned from suspension at the expense of Omar Daley and they started confidently enough, showing little of the fear displayed by bottom side Dunfermline on their visit.

In the ninth minute Forrest played in Hooper, who turned into the box and drove a dangerous ball across goal which no one got on the end of, seconds before Well keeper Randolph had to rush from his line to thwart Samaras.

Denied: Samaras is thwarted

Denied: Samaras is thwarted

In the 15th minute, after the Well defence struggled to clear their lines, Celtic's stand-in skipper Charlie Mulgrew turned and fired the ball just wide of the post from 12 yards.

As the pressure on the Motherwell goal intensified momentarily, Randolph had to make a good save from Samaras, after the Greece striker had volleyed in a shot from the edge of the box.

Celtic had control of the game with the Lanarkshire side living dangerously if not defending desperately.

Forrest laid the ball off to Matthews on the right and from the Welshman's deep cross to the back post Samaras headed off the back of Tom Hateley, the Well defender appearing to know little about his saving block.

Three minutes from the break Celtic defender Kelvin Wilson headed a Ki Sung-yueng free-kick weakly at Randolph from eight yards and in the final seconds, as the home side finished with a flurry, Randolph made a good save from Ki's driven free-kick from wide on the left.

Hooper turned and fired wide with a 25-yard snap-shot in the first couple of minutes of the second-half, followed shortly by Samaras who missed the target from close range but the home side still looked off the pace.

Nice one, son: Lennon congratulates Hooper

Nice one, son: Lennon congratulates Hooper

Lennon did not wait too long until he made a change, bringing on Stokes for Wanyama in the 58th minute and seconds later Celtic were ahead.

Matthews' long throw-in from the right was chested down by Samaras to Hooper, who rifled the ball low past Randolph from close range with his predator's instinct.

The atmosphere changed with the goal and Celtic pressed the Motherwell defence for the next few minutes looking to tie up the points, with the Fir Park players forced in to some desperate defending at times.

With nothing to lose Motherwell began to throw bodies forward, although in the 70th minute striker Henrik Ojamaa was rightly booked for diving in the Celtic box.

By pushing forward the visitors left themselves open at the back and, after a swift Celtic break, Randolph had to dive to his right to save from Forrest's drive with the corner coming to nothing.

The final stages came to life as play swung from end to end and there were scares at both ends, but nothing more as Celtic rolled onward to their all but inevitable title win.

Rangers in administration: Insolvency expert sees no outcome but liquidation

The end is nigh: Insolvency expert sees no outcome at Ibrox but liquidation

In the dark, depressing world of football insolvency, miracles can happen.

Back in the summer of 1999, administrator Donald McGruther was resigned to Clydebank becoming the first senior Scottish club to die since Third Lanark in 1968 – until last-gasp salvation arrived through the post from Bermuda, in the form of an unexpected cheque for 200,000 from absentee owner John Hall.

While Clydebank were to perish three years later, it was not on the watch of McGruther, who has a 100-per-cent track record of saving clubs – including hauling Falkirk back from provisional liquidation against the odds in 1997 and saving Livingston, who were 24 hours from folding in 2009.

Shock turns to anger: Rangers fans erected an inflatable message for Whyte

Shock turns to anger: Rangers fans
erected an inflatable message for
Whyte

But even a man with such heartening first-hand knowledge of great escapes by financially-ruined Scottish clubs was unable to offer even the merest shred of hope for Rangers.

For the 'showstopping' revelation at the Court of Session on Tuesday that discredited Ibrox owner Craig Whyte has cheated the taxman of 9million since taking over nine months ago has left McGruther and his peers convinced there is no way back now for once-proud Rangers.

'Everyone in the Scottish insolvency profession with any experience of the sporting industry is of the mind that Rangers will end up in liquidation,' McGruther told Sportsmail.

WHAT THEY SAID

I’m not surprised what happened at Rangers. That was on the cards for a quite a while from since that lad took over. It is a tragedy because it is a great football club. I don’t know what will happen there.

SIR ALEX FERGUSON

You wouldn’t think something like this would happen to a club like Rangers. They are of such a size you tend to assume they will find some way out of their troubles. It’s hard to imagine this league without Rangers.

MOTHERWELL'S KEITH LASLEY

No one should take any pleasure from Glasgow
Rangers being in this situation but maybe it’s a
warning to all clubs that football is a business and you have to run a business right.

ST JOHNSTONE BOSS STEVE LOMAS

Down south and across Europe they must be shaking their heads in disbelief to see Rangers, a great institution, in such trouble.

ABERDEEN MANAGER CRAIG BROWN

I hope they find a solution as Scottish football needs a strong Rangers.

HEARTS MANAGER PAULO SERGIO

The club is too big and has too many people behind it to see it die. I’m sure they will do what’s right for it now. It’s a difficult situation for my pal Ally McCoist now, all the focus is on
the off-field stuff.

BRISTOL CITY BOSS DEREK MCINNES

If you think of the actual turnover at Rangers — a club that can turn over so much money, have a worldwide fanbase and the amount of revenue that comes in — for them to be
suffering financially is peculiar.

HIBERNIAN MANAGER PAT FENLON

'Any idiot can go into administration but the real trick is to come out of it and be able to trade properly. The big problem now for Rangers is that HMRC won't compromise on the money they are owed. The news that came out about the new 9m new tax bill was a real showstopper.

'That was unknown until Tuesday and suddenly it becomes fully apparent why HMRC are spitting nails in the direction of Ibrox. To them, that unpaid tax represents hospitals, unemployment benefit, nurses, teachers.

'And if they let Rangers away with it to any extent, what message does that send out, if they are chasing clubs down south for similar offences

'If Rangers are to emerge from administration, and preserve 140 years of history, they must get 75 per cent of unsecured creditors to accept a CVA (Company Voluntary Agreement) deal giving them pence in the pound on what they are owed.

'And if Rangers owe HMRC 50m – and not even the 75m figure floated by Craig Whyte himself – then there must be 150m of other debt somewhere, which creditors are willing to waive. And that is simply not going to be the case.'

Given that Whyte has no money and that the best offer for Rangers Sir David Murray could secure in the five years the club was for sale was a mere 1, the idea of a mystery benefactor riding to the rescue seems ridiculous.

But even if that did happen, McGruther would expect Whyte to be as intransigent as controversial Roman lawyer Angelo Massone was at Livingston.

Hammer blow: Craig Whyte (left) owes HMRC 9m more then first thought

Hammer blow: Craig Whyte (left) owes HMRC 9m more then first thought

'If the man who owns a football club in administration won't sell his shares then the club is finished,' said McGruther, who is director of insolvency at Glasgow firm Mazars.

'What would happen then is that the people taking over Rangers would have to go cap in hand to the SPL to get them to go against their own rules and agree to what is called a “hive-down” – transferring the football licence from Whyte's major shareholding to another company.

'And that is exactly the same process that would need to happen if Rangers went into liquidation.

'Any new “phoenix” company would have no licence to play in the SPL, so Rangers would need to seek a licence from the other clubs.

'Whatever happens from here, it looks to me like Rangers will soon be needing an urgent meeting with the other clubs to get a licence to keep playing in the SPL.'

And that is where it gets extremely interesting for non-Old Firm clubs who, for years, have been frustrated in their attempts to secure a fairer distribution of SPL income.

Uncertain future: Rangers can take heart from other Scottish clubs' pasts

Uncertain future: Rangers can take heart from other Scottish clubs' past

Hearts are currently owed 800,000 by Rangers for the transfer of Lee Wallace last summer, while Dunfermline and Dundee United look like having to forego 80,000 and 100,000 they are owed respectively for ticket revenues from recent games.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle, whom Rangers visit on February 26, have already provided Rangers with tickets for their fans and are in discussions with the SPL over recouping the money.

Yet while sympathy for Rangers from fans of these clubs is in short supply, a strong Ibrox side is worth much to SPL clubs, from ticket sales to the share of the 80million television deal with Sky Sports and ESPN, which runs until 2016-17 and whose value is based on four Old Firm matches a season.

And instead of anger within the top-flight board rooms at monies owed in the short term, McGruther believes there will be a growing realisation of the chance to stage a long-awaited revolution.

With Rangers in administration being unable to form their usual voting power block with Celtic, together the other clubs can guarantee the Ibrox club's future participation in the SPL – but at a high price.

Troubling times: Gers manager Ally McCoist (left) is stuck in the middle

Troubling times: Gers manager Ally McCoist (left) is stuck in the middle

He said: 'After years of wanting better shares of television revenue and a fairer split of the gate, I suspect the clubs outwith the Old Firm will be viewing this chance with relish.

'Rangers in administration won't be able to vote and the other clubs may be able to exact a high price for their favour – by starting a Scottish football revolution from below.'

It is a situation which has not escaped Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston.

'It's vital to have a healthy Rangers in the SPL and whatever is to come in the future I hope there is a Rangers in the SPL at the end of it,' he told Sportsmail.

'Would smaller clubs seek to reclaim more powers It's a possibility. But then anything is a possibility right now until things become clearer. This is uncharted territory.

'What would happen without Rangers We would survive. And that would be the same if Celtic moved to another league as well.

'The First Division survives without the Old Firm. It would be just a different level of football. The game would not die without them but the SPL, of course, would be a stronger, more attractive proposition for television and sponsors with a strong Rangers and Celtic. And that is what we hope happens.'