Celtic slipped 19 points behind their rivals thanks to Saturday’s defeat

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Chris Sutton has declared the title race over and pinpointed three reasons why Celtic walked away from Ibrox empty-handed.

Neil Lennon’s team dominated the first half against Rangers, but failed to make their possession count.

The league leaders weathered that storm and were more competitive in the first 15 minutes of the second period, before being handed an advantage with Nir Bitton’s dismissal.

Callum McGregor’s own goal gave them the lead 20 minutes from time, and Steven Gerrard’s men rarely looked like conceding as they saw the game out.

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Former Celtic forward Sutton believes Saturday’s match highlighted three key areas in which Celtic are lacking.

Writing in Record Sport, Sutton said: “Watching the game at the weekend was like watching Hampden in December 2019 in complete reverse.

“(Allan) McGregor took on the role of Fraser Forster and the best team lost courtesy of the opposition breaking through at a set piece.

“Not getting Forster was a hammer blow at the start of this season and that’s only confirmed when you look at what McGregor did on Saturday.

“The goalkeeping position remains a nightmare for Neil and we still don’t know if Vasilis Barkas can make a save because Rangers didn’t ask him to produce one through the entire 90 minutes in Govan.

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“Not getting that nailed down has been costly and so has the defending.

“Nir Bitton was so naive to let Alfredo Morelos do what he did. The Colombian offered little beforehand, but you know that run is a trait of his and to fall into the trap was inexcusable by the Israeli.

“Whether you think it’s a red or not, it was a dreadful error to get into that position in the first place.

“Neil had no luck as Christopher Jullien would have been there and not Bitton had the Frenchman not whacked his knee against a post four days earlier and been ruled out for four months.

“But you can’t hide from the fact that a defender was needed since the summer and, when Neil got to choose one, his pick was Shane Duffy and he couldn’t even trust him to start at Ibrox.

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“That’s on Neil Lennon.

“David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro have been shining lights in the past few weeks, but the striking positions have been a disappointment.

“Where is Albian Ajeti? Where was Leigh Griffiths after lockdown? And where has Odsonne Edouard been all season?”

Celtic aim to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat when they return to Premiership action against Hibs on Monday January 11.

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