Rob Maclean: Rangers have hope but need cash, Craig Gordon, Warren and Hibs

Rob Maclean continues his series assessing the main talking points from the weekend's Scottish football action.

Caixinha needs cash

Rangers' much improved Old Firm performance might be of little long-term relevance but it does boost their belief that they can end Celtic's treble dream.

Under the watchful eye of incoming manager Pedro Caixinha, the Ibrox team went back to basics, played within their limitations and became only the second Scottish side this season to deprive the Premiership leaders of maximum points.

That gives them hope that they can repeat the exercise in next month's Scottish Cup semi-final meeting, maybe even go a step further and give themselves a chance of ending the season with silverware.

What their resolute Celtic Park showing doesn't disguise is the player-to-player quality they lack when compared to the champions-in-waiting.

Rangers showed up well at Celtic Park but still need to add quality to their ranks
Rangers showed up well at Celtic Park but still need to add quality to their ranks

Rangers need to start bridging that gap and that's more about cash than Caixinha.

Gordon the stand out

The biggest tribute to how Rangers played was the performance of Craig Gordon - one of his best in a Celtic goalkeeper's jersey.

His use of the ball is vastly improved but it was his reading of the game and shot-stopping which gave his team every chance of extending their 22-match winning run in the Premiership.

Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon made two fantastic saves to deny Martyn Waghorn
Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon made two fantastic saves to deny Martyn Waghorn

Twice, Rangers striker Martyn Waghorn must have thought he was scoring, only to be denied by the quick thinking and razor-sharp reactions of Gordon.

And the Scotland goalie deserved better back-up than he got at the Rangers equaliser when his flying save from Emerson Hyndman was rendered redundant when Clint Hill pounced on the rebound quicker than the Celtic defence.

Gordon's comeback from what seemed a career-ending injury was already a remarkable story.

There are a few chapters still to be written.

Just what Caley Jags need

Never-say-die skipper Gary Warren epitomises the fighting qualities of Inverness Caley Thistle which might yet be enough to keep them in the Premiership.

So it was appropriate that it was the 32-year-old defender's stoppage-time header against Partick Thistle at Firhill on Saturday, immediately followed by the full time whistle, which rescued a precious point.

Warren is your classic 100% who's played a big part over the last five years in the continuing success story at Inverness.

This season's been difficult for him in a Caley Thistle defence that's been constantly changing in both personnel and formation but you won't find him making excuses.

Next up for Warren and his team is the Highland derby and the chance to climb out of bottom spot and, at the same time, drag local rivals Ross County deeper into the relegation battle.

So tame at Tannadice

Dundee United blew their big chance to keep alive the prospect of automatic promotion from the Championship.

Losing at home to Hibs on Friday night was bad enough but what they have to be really hurting about is the manner of the defeat.

United couldn't have had a bigger incentive. A win would have taken them to within four points of the leaders with a game in hand.

Hibernian keeper Ofir Marciano enjoyed an easy night at Tannadice on Friday
Hibernian keeper Ofir Marciano enjoyed an easy night at Tannadice on Friday

But Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano didn't have a direct shot to save all night long. A weekend to forget ended with United slipping to fourth place.

They did have two avenues back to the big league. Now winning the play-offs is their only hope.

Touch of class from Ambrose

Efe Ambrose has been a figure of fun for much of his time in Scottish football and the on-loan Celtic defender certainly made the Hibs supporters smile at Tannadice.

Noticeable by their absence were his trademark lapses of concentration which have led in recent seasons to a series of high-profile howlers.

Efe Ambrose has been in excellent form for Hibernian since joining them on loan
Efe Ambrose has been in excellent form for Hibernian since joining them on loan

What he delivered instead against Dundee United was an almost cigar-smoking performance in central defence which rightly won him the man of the match award.

You would have to factor in the number of serious questions he was asked by United's punchless attack but it was still an Efe impressive showing.

In the absence of the likes of Liam Fontaine and Paul Hanlon, Ambrose is lending a helpful hand to get title favourites Hibs over the finishing line.

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