Celtic 1-0 Rangers: Mariah Lee late goal breathes life into Hoops title challenge
Celtic breathed life back into their SWPL 1 title challenge with a late win over Rangers at Celtic Park.
Mariah Lee’s goal 10 minutes from time ensured a second Old Firm win of the season for Fran Alonso’s side and put them to within two points of second-place Rangers.
Rangers were left to rue missed chances, with Emma Brownlie missing from three yards, while Bala Devi and Kirsten Reilly both hit the woodwork.
And there was a further blow for Rangers, who had Kirsty Howat stretchered off injured with what looked to be a serious knee injury.
Celtic remain five points behind leaders Glasgow City, who fought back from behind to beat Hibernian.
Celtic’s title hopes were hanging by a thread. Defeat would surely end their chances. And they started without Australian signing Jacynta Galabadaarachchi who was a noticeable absentee from the squad.
It was a cagey first half, though Celtic threatened when Rachel Donaldson’s cross bounced around the box before Anna Filbey’s shot was blocked.
And then Malky Thompson’s side, who were usurped from top spot at the weekend by champions City, suffered a blow with the loss of Howat.
But not long after they should have been ahead. Reilly sprayed a delightful pass to Brogan Hay, who skipped past her marker to send an inch perfect low cross for Emma Brownlie who somehow fired over from three yards when it looked easier to score.
Celtic looked the more likely of the two as the half-time whistle approached with Donaldson testing Jenna Fife, then Lisa Robertson curled a free-kick from 25 yards agonisingly wide.
As the floodlights came on for the second half it was the away side who went close. Sam Kerr’s pass released Lizzie Arnott on the right, her cross led to some confusion in the Celtic defence, and Bala Devi smashed a half volley off the bar.
Reilly was next to test the frame of the goal with her 30-yard looping effort bouncing off the bar with Chloe Logan in the Celtic goal beaten.
Chelsea Cornet and Nicola Docherty tested Logan again, but completely against the run of play it was substitute Lee who gave the home side the lead.
A long ball led to some confusion in the Rangers rear guard, goalkeeper Fife raced from her line but was pipped by the on-rushing Lee and rolled the ball into the empty net.
Arnott had a chance to equalize towards the end but saw her shot squirm wide of the post.