Steven Gerrard revealed how fate played a role in the interval decision that helped Rangers on Saturday to win their narrow 1-0 victory over Celtic.
At Ibrox, the visitors dominated the first half and would have taken the lead but for seasoned goalkeeper Allan McGregor’s heroics.
At the break, the Gers boss considered a shift in his attack and was pushed into it by a Kemar Roofe injury.
In the second half, Ianis Hagi took his place and things changed, but the decisive moment came in the 62nd minute when Parkhead defender Nir Bitton was sent off for pulling down Alfredo Morelos, the Gers striker.
Seven minutes later, Celtic captain Callum McGregor conceded an own goal, leaving Rangers 19 points away from their Old Firm rivals at the top of the table despite having played three more games.
“Me and the coaching staff thought about making a change because we weren’t happy with the back three in the first 45 minutes,” Gerrard told Rangers TV.
It really was a stroke of luck – not in terms of injury, because in his quad, Kemar has a tweak that we will have to test and hope he’s fit again.
But to get Ianis on the pitch, it played into my hands and I thought he was fantastic in the second half.
Ianis is very good at picking up details, and I thought he was very brave to get the ball in large places.
“In the second 45 minutes, Ianis put in the performance that we needed from our 10s throughout the game. For that, you have to give him credit, but Kemar’s loss is quite a blow.
Gerrard is worried about why his side, particularly in the first half, were outplayed by Celtic, but insists his side can have a bad day and still win.
He said, ‘I’m going to evaluate our results and go into depth about why in the first 45 minutes we weren’t ourselves and why we stepped up.
We’re certainly going to debrief the situation, of course, but I’d rather win in soccer and not be ourselves or win ugly and be a winner than in the League Cup final where everybody said how beautiful we were and our style and how much we dominated the game.
“But we won nothing. I think the players have had more than enough praise during the season because they have looked so good.
“But we’re at a point now where it’s all about results in the new year.