- Old Firm derby on Hogmanay at packed Ibrox
- Miller puts Rangers ahead early on
- Dembele and Sinclair turn it around for Celtic
- Hoops maintain unbeaten domestic record
Celtic claimed the New Year honours in Glasgow, coming from behind to beat Rangers and record a 15th successive league win in the first Old Firm derby at Ibrox in almost five years.
Veteran striker Kenny Miller rewarded Rangers’ early enterprise by firing them into the lead from close range against his former club.
With their first shot on target, Moussa Dembele drew the Hoops level with a spectacular finish for his fifth goal against Rangers this season.
Celtic upped the ante in the second half and showed their powers of recovery, as Scott Sinclair scored the winner with 20 minutes remaining.
As 2017 approaches, Brendan Rodgers’ men open up a 19-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership, with a game in hand to come against St Johnstone next month, heading into the winter break – the biggest ever advantage at this stage of a top-flight season.
The champions, seeking a sixth successive league title and first under Rodgers, have a hat-trick of derby wins this term after September’s 5-1 demolition at Celtic Park and the League Cup semi-final success the following month.
Rangers can take plenty of positives, with Barrie McKay excellent as an attacking force, but Mark Warburton’s side, who are now only two points ahead of third-placed Aberdeen, face a battle to secure the runners-up spot after suffering a first home defeat in 34 games.
Lining up with a back three, the hosts hit the front by pressing Celtic in wide areas from the outset.
It paid dividends in the 12th minute when Josh Windass released James Tavernier to cross low for Miller – wearing the captain’s armband in the injured Lee Wallace‘s absence – who finished well inside the six yard box for his 10th Old Firm goal.
But in the aftermath, fellow forward Joe Garner had to be stretchered off and was replaced by Martyn Waghorn.
Rangers continued to look menacing and ask questions of the Celtic defence but, after Sinclair struck the post and Clint Hill put the rebound behind for a corner, the visitors responded.
Stuart Armstrong’s deep delivery picked out Dembele, who had escaped the attentions of Danny Wilson, and the Frenchman instantly brought the ball under control before unleashing a powerful left-foot volley into the roof of the net for goal number 19 this season.
Celtic came out stronger in the second period to take a firm grip of proceedings, with Wes Foderingham in the Rangers goal the much busier keeper.
Armstrong and James Forrest brought good saves from the ex-Swindon man before Dembele hit the frame of the goal with a mishit effort after good work from Calum McGregor – returning after a one-match ban.
Rangers continued to offer a threat as McKay’s long-range effort and a Wilson header tested Celtic stopper Craig Gordon – celebrating his 34th birthday.
But the visitors struck the decisive blow to complete the turnaround in front of their delighted supporters as substitute Patrick Roberts found Armstrong in space and his inviting cross was touched in by Sinclair for his ninth of the campaign.
Celtic could have gone further ahead in the closing stages as Armstrong, Sinclair and sub Nir Bitton produced more saves from Foderingham.
And Rangers might have snatched a late leveller through Miller, who hit the base of the post from a well-weighted centre by Andy Halliday.
However, as referee Steven McLean – excellent on his Old Firm derby debut – blew the final whistle, the hosts could only reflect on an encouraging display despite their best efforts.
Meanwhile, Celtic ensured they signed off for 2016 by maintaining their domestic bliss after proving once again why they are looking such an unstoppable force this season.
Substitutes: Waghorn (on for Garner 16′), Dodoo (on for Windass 65′) and Forrester (on for Holt 83′).
Not used: Gilks (GK), Hodson, Crooks, O’Halloran.
Booked: Hill, Tavernier, Windass
Goals: Miller (12′)
Substitutes: Roberts (on for Forrest 68′) and Bitton (on for McGregor 86′).
Not used: De Vries (GK), Toure, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven, Griffiths.
Booked: Simunovic, Lustig, Brown
Goals: Dembele (33′), Sinclair (70′)
Referee: Steven McLean – 9/10
Assistant referees: Douglas Ross and Frank Connor
Fourth official: John Beaton