Ally McCoist praises Rangers players for second-half display

Manager Ally McCoist was effusive in his praise for his Rangers players after their 4-2 win over Celtic  in the first Old Firm match of the season.

"I thought in the second half Rangers were terrific. On that second-half display we merited the three points," he told BBC Scotland at Ibrox.

"We had six or seven contenders for man of the match and that was a massive plus for us.

"It was a terrific advert again for the Old Firm and Scottish football."

Rangers found themselves 2-1 down at half-time after Gary Hooper's calm finish from a tight angle had cancelled out Rangers forward Steven Naismith's sweetly struck volleyed opener.

And Celtic were handed their advantage before the break when keeper Allan McGregor allowed a Badr El Kaddouri drive to squirm between his legs and cross the goalline.

However, after the break Rangers attacked the visitors with renewed energy and drew level when striker Nikica Jelavic rose to power Steven Davis's corner into the net.

Thereafter, Rangers looked the hungrier team and restricted Celtic to a Glenn Loovens header which struck the post.

A key player for the home side in the second period was Gregg Wylde, whose improvement after the break was characterised by bursts down the left that kept Celtic occupied with defensive duties.

"Gregg Wylde is a young man and hopefully he has a long and wonderful career in front of him," said McCoist.

"Sometimes we forget that with youth comes one or two problems, as well as pluses.

"One of the things is you don't have the education, the game knowledge, which is natural. Sometimes we expect a little too much of our youngsters, but that is our job.

"We just had a wee chat with him [at half-time]. We sat down with him and I wanted him to help Sasa Papac in the left-back position, and the difference in the second half was evident."

That assessment was echoed by Naismith: "His second half was tremendous. He was direct and put great balls in the box. He and Mo Edu were stand-outs."

Kyle Lafferty kept his cool to slam a left-foot shot into the net to give Rangers a 3-2 lead after 67 minutes, and when Charlie Mulgrew was shown a second yellow card by ref Craig Thomson things looked ominous for Neil Lennon's team.

With Edu winning tackles in midfield and Stevens Naismith and Davis skilfully supporting Lafferty and Jelavic in their advanced positions, the Rangers manager had several players performing at their peak.

"There will be Rangers fans sitting enjoying their pint of lager and they will all have their different opinion [on who was man of the match]," added McCoist.

"The great thing is it is up for debate."

Wylde and Davis combined to provide Naismith with the decisive fourth goal in injury time, sealing the points for Rangers, who now sit four points clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

Rangers may soon have veteran defender David Weir available now that he has almost fully recovered from a hamstring injury.

McCoist said of Weir's comeback: "I've been watching him running and he is looking a lot better and hopefully he is not too far away."