Celtic v Rangers: Second-half frustration & losing Scottish Premiership leads

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Michael Stewart and Steven Thompson debate Celtic's title chances
Scottish Premiership: Celtic v Rangers
Venue: Celtic Park Date: Sunday, 31 March Kick-off: 12:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland, live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Rangers moved level on points with Celtic after winning the last Old Firm game in late December. Nine matches on, they are 10 points adrift.

Granted, the Parkhead side have played an extra match in that time, but how has the gap been cleaved open?

BBC Scotland Sport has examined the numbers and it has emerged that a key factor may be the leaders' ability to turn draws into wins and to hold on to leads far more regularly than the Ibrox side.

Struggling in the second half

Of the seven games they have been drawing at the break, Rangers have won just 14% of them. Conversely, their city rivals have won 69% of the nine matches in which they were level at the interval. As a further point of comparison, third-placed Aberdeen's conversion rate is 30%.

Overall, then, Rangers have dropped a potential 14 points when in such a situation - continuing to draw four and losing two - compared to Celtic's nine and Aberdeen's 17 respectively.

Failing to close out games

As well as that, Steven Gerrard's side have an unfortunate habit of letting a lead slip. So far this season, Rangers have lost six of their 23 leads in the Premiership, with five draws and one defeat. That equates to 13 points dropped or 19% of the available points.

Celtic have led the exact same number of matches this term, but have only spurned that advantage twice, with one draw and one defeat. That equates to five points dropped or just seven percent of those up for grabs. Aberdeen, meanwhile, have only failed to win two of the 17 games in which they have lead, dropping four points in the process.

So from identical positions - leading in 23 Premiership matches - Rangers have dropped eight more points and now trail their rivals by 10.

Crucial goals or late goals?

The perceived wisdom seems to be that Celtic grind teams down and almost always manage to find a winner. But that doesn't really bear out when we look at the numbers.

So far this term, Celtic have scored 17 goals from the 75th minute of matches onwards. Rangers have netted 15 times, while Livingston have 12 and Hibernian 10. But Aberdeen and Kilmarnock - who are third and fourth in the table - only have seven and five respectively. So while late goals can dictate the results of matches, it seems they do not necessarily directly change outcomes.

It appears the real difference between Rangers and Celtic has been the league leaders have been able to score when they need to and hold on to a lead.

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