A match with the potential to be pivotal in the title race as early as 2 January finished with nothing resolved and positives for both clubs – and that can only ever mean an Old Firm game ended in a draw.
Rangers manager Michael Beale took enormous encouragement from the progress his side have made since he took over, even if the gap in the table remains at nine points after the 2-2 draw.
While Beale believes “something can happen” in the title race, he accepts that it is still Celtic’s “to throw away”.
Celtic counterpart Ange Postecoglou was delighted with his ‘mentality monsters’ as they fought back for a point at Ibrox after six minutes of chaos at the start of the second half saw them trailing 2-1.
Five minutes into the second Old Firm game of the season the ‘as it stands’ table showed a surely decisive 12 points between the sides. Ten minutes into the second half it was down to a tantalising six. At full-time it was back to nine – but Beale isn’t ready to throw in the towel.
“There’s 18 games to play. There’s two more derbies, two more Old Firms to play,” he told BBC Scotland.
“But in between that there’s a lot of tricky ties. If we keep winning, something can happen. There’s a lot of football to play. But we have to keep winning and keep improving. At the moment, it will be theirs to throw away.”
Beale, who replaced Giovanni van Bronckhorst during the World Cup break, believes his side have made significant strides since the end of November.
“I thought second half we were fantastic. To come into the club five weeks ago and have all the injuries and all the doubt. I think we’ve taken away quite a lot of the doubt,” he added.
“We’re no further ahead than we were five weeks ago in the league but in our performance level and in our mind I think we’re maybe one or two steps ahead.
“I think from the 30th minute onwards we were the stronger team. I saw a lot of good things. We played against a very strong opponent, and we were more than a match in the game.”
Celtic’s ‘tremendous character’ pleases Postecoglou
Postecoglou put the errors his players made in the game down to the fact “they’re human beings, they’re not robots” and dismissed suggestions Josip Juranovic – who was tormented by Fashion Sakala – may have been distracted by transfer speculation.
Asked if he was proud of his side’s mentality in fighting back, he said: “Absolutely. And it’s a big part of this team. It’s not the first time we do it, we’ve done it and won’t be last.
“The lads have shown tremendous character all the way through. And when the moment was required, they stepped up.
“There’s still 18 games to go or so. All we can control is what we do and if we have a second half of the year like we had a first half the year we won’t have to worry about anybody else.”
The Australian was pleased with Canada right-back Alistair Johnston’s debut in the white-hot atmosphere of an Ibrox derby.
“I thought he handled himself really well up against a really good player in Ryan Kent. There’s more to come from him obviously.
“Defensively he worked really hard for us and I think as the weeks go on, and he gets more adjusted to our play, the attacking side of his game will come through too.”