Old Firm winner 'best moment of my career' says Rangers goal hero Nikola Katic

Rangers matchwinner Nikola Katic was left in no doubt that Steven Gerrard’s men set the blueprint for the 2-1 win that brought a first Old Firm success at Celtic Park in nearly a decade for the club as they were laid out with a luckless Betfred Cup final loss to their rivals three weeks ago.

The inability to end eight years without a major honour despite dominating Celtic at Hampden had many believing Rangers would be scarred psychologically going into Sunday's fixture.

Instead, they were imbued with a sense of knowing what was required, Katic heading in a Borna Barisic corner early in the second period to secure a famous victory.

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“I think we showed in the cup final we can handle Celtic. We had our gameplan, we listened to the manager and did everything he wanted,” said the Croatian centre-back.

Nikola Katic called his Old Firm winner the best moment in his careerNikola Katic called his Old Firm winner the best moment in his career
Nikola Katic called his Old Firm winner the best moment in his career

“We showed no fear. It’s a tough place to go and play but we did it. Whoever watched the final saw a very good Rangers performance and could see we are a good team. We were a bit unlucky but we had to stick to the plan and play out game. We went out and showed it again today.”

Katic, only reintroduced to the Rangers starting line-up as the result of an injury sustained by Filip Helander at Hampden, has seized his opportunity.

And with Sunday's 56th minute winner, Katic agreed he had experienced a pinnacle in a stint that has had its highs and lows since his £2 million transfer to Rangers from Slaven Belupo in the summer of 2018.

“The goal was probably the best moment of my career until now,” the 23-year-old said. “It’s something we practise so much, we do it every single day and I was so happy to get the reward because we work so hard.”

The goal atoned for the tug on Christopher Jullien’s jersey that brought a penalty for Celtic that Ryan Christie had saved by Allan McGregor on the half-hour mark, Rangers making their repreive count with Ryan Kent firing them into the lead shortly afterwards, that a delfected Odsonne Edouard strike cancelled out just before the break.

Asked if he was worried as referee Kevin Clancy pointed to the spot, Katic said: “Almost. It was the referee’s decision and maybe yes, maybe no, but Allan McGregor saved me and he saved the team. It was done and I can’t complain about it. Well, I did, but it’s done and it doesn’t matter.”

Katic took a similiar view of the seventh red card of his Rangers career shown to Alfredo Morelo in added time, the Colombian earning a second booking for diving only minutes after he had picked up a first caution.

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“The red card was the referee’s decision so I can’t talk about that,” the defender said.

“But Alfredo is one of the best players in the league – maybe the best. He showed how important he is in the last game against Kilmarnock [with the winning goal]. It happened but he gives a lot to the team and I was really proud of him today.”