Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst insists the title race isn’t over despite his side’s defeat to Celtic – but admits their task is much more difficult.
Aaron Ramsey had given the home side the lead within three minutes at Ibrox but Celtic bounced back with goals from Tom Rogic and Cameron Carter-Vickers to win 2-1.
That leaves the champions trailing Celtic by six points with just six games to go in the Premiership and the Dutchman conceded that defeat had been a significant blow to their hopes.
“Well, losing today against Celtic made it more difficult for us,” Van Bronckhorst said.
“That is obvious. It is not over yet but of course, the loss we had today makes it more difficult to be champions.
“If you play against your direct opponent for the race and you lose, you always make it more difficult.”
Rangers have to pick themselves up for the Europa League quarter-final first leg against Braga on Thursday and will also face Celtic in the last four of the Scottish Cup in addition to the remaining league challenges. The manager says the team have to put their disappointment behind them and push for success again.
“We have to keep on going,” he said. “The emotions in football are highs and lows.
“Any football player will feel that, the days when you are very disappointed in the result.
“But there is still a lot to play for. Take this loss and disappointment, recover and be ready again on Thursday for Braga. It’s another big game and we have to prepare well.
“It’s almost the end of the season with a lot of games to be played in a lot of competitions. So we have to prepare and that’s all we will do.”
Asked about the 12-point swing at the top of the table since January, he said that it was apparent that his side hadn’t taken their chances and that it was inevitable that would prove costly over time.
“We all watched the games,” he said.
“What happened in those games? We didn’t take the chances we had. We had some decisions not in our favour.
“And then in the end, when you draw and lose points, you know, you just didn’t take the chances you got.
“And that’s why we lost a lot of points, unnecessarily, I think. But, you know, if you keep losing points like that, then you are trailing now six points against Celtic. Those are the facts and we cannot change that.”
Reflecting on Sunday’s defeat though, he felt it was defending that had been his side’s undoing.
The start couldn’t have been any better. We started on the front foot, played really well
“It’s like gifts what we gave away today, the two goals,” he said. “That can’t happen in any match, not only an Old Firm game.
“In any match if you give the first goal away like that, it’s unthinkable. But it happened and the second goal as well, I think we didn’t defend as we can.”