Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson has reiterated the club's support of VAR in a statement which claims striker Alfredo Morelos is "singled out for special attention" in Scottish football.

Steven Gerrard's side claimed an away Old Firm victory in the Scottish Premiership for the first time in 10 attempts on Sunday as Nikola Katic's winner saw them beat Celtic 2-1.

Yet Rangers, who moved to within two points of their rivals at the top of the table, with a game in hand, ended the match unhappy with the officials.

Odsonne Edouard's initial equaliser for Celtic appeared to strike his arm, while Morelos was sent off late on - his seventh Rangers dismissal - receiving his second booking for diving as his miserable goalless Old Firm record continued.

The absence of VAR - the system much-maligned in England's Premier League on the same day - in Scottish football is of frustration to Rangers, as Robertson explained on Monday.

"This is not a criticism of referees because they often have to perform under very difficult conditions and in a highly emotive environment, as do our players and coaches," Robertson said.

"The speed at which the modern game is played also means it is extremely difficult to make split-second calls with the degree of certainty required.

"We believe the introduction of VAR would help referees enormously and reduce the number of wrong decisions which sometimes have a dramatic effect on the outcome of matches.

"In recent weeks, Rangers has suffered from errors of judgement but it is our strong view that VAR would be to the benefit of everyone and in particular the referees themselves."

Rangers' statement highlighted three "glaring errors", referring to Edouard's goal, the non-award of a penalty for Morelos against Aberdeen, along with Celtic's offside winner in the Scottish League Cup final.

The release went on to defend Morelos, who has been criticised for an apparent throat-cutting gesture following his red card at Celtic Park.

The club said: "There can be little doubt Alfredo is singled out for special attention, on and off the field of play.

"Indeed, some of the things said and written about him leave a lot to be desired and do nothing to suggest Scottish football is the most welcoming of environments.

"Even Alfredo's gesture as he left the pitch is now being portrayed in some quarters as something sinister when, in fact, it is a gesture used commonly throughout South America to indicate quite simply that something – in this case, the match – is finished."

Hearts have opened an investigation into the alleged racist abuse of Rangers forward Alfredo Morelos during Sunday's Scottish Premiership meeting at Tynecastle.

Colombian Morelos was allegedly targeted with abuse after scoring the equaliser for Steven Gerrard's side in a 1-1 draw.

In response, Hearts have confirmed they have started an investigation and have pledged to ban any supporter found guilty.

"The club is aware of an incident of alleged racism and is currently investigating it," Hearts announced in a statement reported by BBC Sport.

"It goes without saying that Heart of Midlothian Football Club utterly condemns any form of racism and any individuals found guilty of such an offence will face an indefinite ban from Tynecastle."

The latest incident of alleged racist abuse comes in the wake of a troubling week across football.

On Monday, England's Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia had to be stopped twice as a section of home supporters made monkey chants and Nazi salutes.

Bulgaria's coach Krasimir Balakov, along with the president of the country's football association Borislav Mihaylov, subsequently resigned, while police have reportedly arrested several suspects.

On Saturday, an FA Cup qualifier between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town was abandoned after the Boro players walked off in the 64th minute.

Boro's goalkeeper Douglas Pajetat was allegedly a victim of abuse from some Yeovil fans, with Omnisport understanding the Cameroonian had bottles thrown at him and was also spat at.

Championship club Bristol City are investigating a claim of racist language being used in the away end during their match at Luton Town this weekend.

Luis Suarez and Karim Benzema are the wrong side of 30 and could soon be looking over their shoulders.

LaLiga heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid are planning for the future and have reportedly identified ideal long-term successors to their respective strikers.

Meanwhile, two Premier League rivals could be about to do battle for the signature of a highly rated defender.


TOP STORY – ENEMIES EYE REINFORCEMENTS

AS claim Spanish champions Barca have identified Donyell Malen as the man to replace star striker Suarez, now 32.

The PSV forward scored on his international debut for Netherlands in September and has netted 10 goals in nine Eredivisie games this term.

Inter's Lautaro Martinez and Rafael Leao of AC Milan are also in the Blaugrana's sights.

Madrid, meanwhile, are considering an approach for Salzburg teenager Erling Haaland, AS adds.

Luka Jovic is yet to make much of an impression in the Spanish capital and Haaland, the scorer of four goals in two Champions League games, could prove a more useful option behind Benzema.


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- Kai Havertz insists the decision on his next move will be his alone. Barca and Madrid have been linked with the in-demand Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, who told a news conference he is ready to take control of his future.

- Manchester City are preparing to hijack Manchester United's move for Ruben Dias. According to The Sun, the Premier League champions see the Benfica centre-back as the solution to their defensive crisis.

- In a second blow to the under-pressure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Daily Mail claims United medical staff fear the injured Paul Pogba will spend the rest of October on the sideline. Pogba is in Dubai for warm-weather training as he battles to overcome a foot problem, but is in doubt for the blockbuster clash with leaders Liverpool in just over a week.

- Chelsea are weighing up whether to recall Ethan Ampadu from his RB Leipzig loan spell when the transfer window reopens in January, the Daily Express reports. Wales international Ampadu has not registered a single appearance for the Bundesliga outfit.

- Steven Gerrard's success in turning Rangers into genuine Scottish Premiership title contenders has garnered unexpected interest in his services. The Sun says Turkish giants Besiktas see the former Liverpool and England midfielder as a good fit to replace Abdullah Avci, should the incumbent boss fail to improve their Super Lig fortunes.

Lionel Messi will get to decide his Barcelona future, regardless of when the star is contracted until.

Messi, 32, re-signed with the LaLiga champions two years ago, extending his contract until 2021.

But such extensions may not matter when it comes to arguably the world's best player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CAN LEAVE BARCELONA AT THE END OF ANY SEASON

Messi can choose to leave Barcelona at the conclusion of any campaign regardless of his contract, according to El Pais.

The Argentina superstar made his debut for the club in late 2004, and his future is seemingly in his own hands.

It remains to be seen when, or if, Messi decides to depart Camp Nou.

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- Philippe Coutinho eventually left Barcelona for Bayern Munich on loan, but it could have been different for the playmaker. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola rejected the chance to sign the 27-year-old, according to Marca.

- Left out of Juventus' Champions League squad, Mario Mandzukic is eyeing a January exit, according to Calciomercato.com. The striker was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United during the transfer window.

- Staying in Turin, Juventus could have signed Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng in the close season. Calciomercato.com reports Maurizio Sarri rejected a move for the centre-back.

- Ousmane Dembele was reportedly wanted by Paris Saint-Germain while they were in talks with Barcelona over a move for Neymar. But the attacker refused to leave because he is at his dream club at Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

- Former Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is reportedly in talks with Monaco, but the 55-time Italy international turned down a move to Scottish giants Rangers, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Left out of the England squad, Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is worried he has no international future under Gareth Southgate, the Daily Star reports.

Real Madrid look set to finally land a midfielder before the transfer window closes.

The LaLiga giants have been linked to numerous midfielders and, after a slow start to the season, they may make a signing ahead of the window shutting on Monday.

Madrid are reportedly close to strengthening their squad by completing a move for Sporting CP star Bruno Fernandes.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID CLOSE TO SEALING FERNANDES DEAL

Real Madrid have almost completed a deal for Fernandes, according to ESPN.

The Portugal international, 24, was linked to Manchester United and Tottenham earlier in the window.

Now, the Sporting captain looks set for Madrid, who have reportedly targeted United's Paul Pogba, Spurs' Christian Eriksen and Ajax's Donny van de Beek during the close season.

It comes just days after Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade said Fernandes was heading to Madrid for €70million.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Neymar saga will finally end – for now – with the Paris Saint-Germain star staying with the Ligue 1 champions. L'Equipe reports the Brazil international will remain with PSG, while Sport reports Barcelona will resume their pursuit of Neymar in 2020.

- That could mean a few more eyes on Mauro Icardi on Monday. PSG are in talks with Inter over a potential loan deal for the forward, according to RMC Sport and Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Pogba may still be hoping to eventually get his move to Real Madrid. The Mirror reports the France international will resist signing a new deal with Premier League giants Manchester United, with his current contract running until 2021, although the club have an option to extend that by a year.

- Javier Hernandez should get a deadline-day move from West Ham. The Premier League club have agreed to sell the forward to Sevilla for close to €8.9m (£8m), according to Sky Sports News.

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan came off the bench during Arsenal's draw against Tottenham on Sunday and he could be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium a day later. Roma are pressing hard to sign the midfielder on loan with an option to buy, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Phil Foden may have to wait for his chances at Manchester City, but the Premier League champions are keen to keep the teenage midfielder in their squad. The Sun reports City rejected loan bids from Rangers and Roma for the England youth international.

Neil Lennon took aim at sceptics who he believes had written off Celtic prior to Sunday's clinical 2-0 victory over Rangers at Ibrox.

The Scottish champions produced a faultless performance in the Old Firm derby to move three points clear of their Glasgow rivals in first place.

Odsonne Edouard punished Connor Goldson's cheap turnover to open the scoring in the first half before Jonny Hayes sealed the victory in stoppage time.

Lennon was unhappy with criticism levelled at his side following last month's Champions League loss to Cluj and felt hype surrounding Rangers was unwarranted.

"We were an afterthought coming into this fixture," the Hoops boss said.

"It was all about the opposition and what they were going to do to us.

"We didn't listen to any of it. We stayed strong and played brilliantly.

"We came here to win, we came here to be strong.

"Everyone wrote us off. We were very motivated, hungry and had great belief about us.

"You can't listen to the noise surrounding the game, you have to stick to what you believe in.

"I have a great backroom team and we set our stall out to be competitive.

"We've been dominant. We're not prepared to give up our titles and neither are these players or the board."

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard felt let down by the performances of all but Jon Flanagan and took particular issue with Jordan Jones, who was shown a straight red card following a wild challenge on Moritz Bauer in added time.

"I think Jordan was maybe trying to appease the fans - that's not how you appease fans," Gerrard told Sky Sports.

"You do it by creating and scoring goals if you're a wide man, not by kicking people when the ball is 10 yards away.

"He deserves his red card, he deserves his ban and he's got everything to do now to get back in my team."

Odsonne Edouard's fifth Old Firm goal helped Celtic to a 2-0 win over Rangers and a three-point lead atop the Scottish Premiership on Sunday.

The French forward beat the offside trap and guided a cool finish under Allan McGregor in the 32nd minute to set up his side's clinical victory at Ibrox.

Substitute Jonny Hayes added a second on the counter-attack in stoppage time before Jordan Jones compounded the home side's misery by wiping out Moritz Bauer and earning himself a straight red card.

Neil Lennon's Celtic men needed a boost after being dumped out of Champions League qualifying at the hands of CFR Cluj in August - a blow softened only slightly by successfully reaching the Europa League group stage.

The surgical manner of this triumph should inspire even greater confidence that a ninth successive league title is theirs to lose.

Hatem Abd Elhamed recovered from injury to replace Kristoffer Ajer on the right side of Celtic's defence and he was at the centre of an eventful first 15 minutes.

The Israel international made a crucial last-ditch challenge to prevent Rangers striker Jermain Defoe from pulling the trigger in the early stages and then required treatment following an aerial collision with Jon Flanagan.

Chances became scarce until James Tavernier gifted possession to Michael Johnston, who drove forward and threaded Edouard through on goal for the opener.

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard turned to Alfredo Morelos on the hour, removing the largely ineffective Defoe.

Another substitute, Sheyi Ojo, had finally tested Fraser Forster moments earlier, though there was precious little else for the on-loan Hoops goalkeeper to do.

McGregor kept Rangers in the contest with a trio of good stops but, after denying Hayes once, he could not keep the winger from bundling in the rebound, three minutes before Jones' rash challenge.

Celtic have signed Mohamed Elyounoussi on loan from Southampton for the rest of the season.

The 25-year-old forward joined Saints from Basel last year for a reported £16million fee, but he failed to score in 16 Premier League appearances.

The Norway international is now looking forward to the prospect of more regular football with the Scottish champions.

"I can't wait to get started and pull on the jersey for the first time," he told Celtic's website. "It's an iconic, historic club so it's a great move for me.

"I remember that it was a great atmosphere at Celtic Park when I played here [for Molde in 2015]. So I'm really happy to come here.

"Celtic has a great history of winning titles with a lot of fans behind them, so I'm proud to be a part of the club."

Elyounoussi joins Fraser Forster in moving to Celtic from St Mary's Stadium for the remainder of 2019-20.

"Everyone at Saints would like to wish Moi well for the rest of the season," Southampton said.

Celtic visit Rangers in the Old Firm Derby on Sunday.

Leicester City midfielder Andy King has joined Steven Gerrard's Rangers on loan, both clubs have announced.

King will spend the 2019-20 campaign with the Glasgow side having fallen out of favour with the Foxes.

The midfielder made 25 appearances as Leicester won the Premier League title in 2015-16 and he then helped Wales reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

King becomes Rangers' 10th signing of the transfer window, following players including Steven Davis, Brandon Barker and Sheyi Ojo to Ibrox.

The 30-year-old was present as Rangers beat Midtjylland on Thursday to reach the Europa League play-off round.

Gerrard's men will next take on Polish side Legia Warsaw for a place in the competition's group stage.

Manchester United have loaned goalkeeper Joel Pereira to Scottish Premiership side Hearts for the duration of the 2019-20 campaign.

The 23-year-old was part of United's squad for their pre-season tour of Australia and Asia, featuring as a half-time substitute in the wins against Perth Glory and Leeds United.

Pereira has made just three competitive appearances for United since emerging from their academy in 2015, however, and was behind David De Gea, Sergio Romero and Lee Grant in the goalkeeping pecking order.

He is embarking on his fifth spell away from Old Trafford, having previously spent time on loan with Rochdale, Belenenses, Vitoria Setubal and Kortrijk.

 

Arsenal have completed the signing of Celtic defender Kieran Tierney.

The left-back has agreed a long-term deal with the Gunners, bringing to an end their summer-long pursuit of the 22-year-old.

Arsenal saw two previous bids for the Scotland international rejected, however they have finally got their man ahead of Thursday's 1700 BST deadline for Premier League clubs.

The reported fee of £25million is the highest received by a Scottish club for a player, eclipsing the £19.7m Lyon paid the Hoops for Moussa Dembele a year ago.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery said: "We’re delighted Kieran is joining us. He’s a very talented player who will continue to improve.

"He increases our options defensively and I look forward to him joining our group."   

Tierney last featured for Celtic on May 4 and had double hernia surgery during the close season, however he came through a medical after the two clubs finally agreed on a fee.

His arrival is the first of two anticipated incomings at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday, with Chelsea defender David Luiz also expected to join the Gunners for a fee in the region of £8m.

 

 

Ryan Christie hit a hat-trick as Celtic commenced their quest for a ninth consecutive Scottish Premiership title with a 7-0 thrashing of St Johnstone.

Neil Lennon insisted ahead of the season his players had lost none of their hunger and the champions looked in the mood for more silverware as they made a flying start on Saturday.

Mikey Johnston grabbed the first goal in the ninth minute before Scotland international Christie took control of the contest, scoring twice before the break.

The attacking midfielder completed his treble after the interval with a second fine strike from outside the box and there was no respite for a hapless St Johnstone in the final half hour.

Olivier Ntcham, Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths all got on the scoresheet to complete the rout at a buoyant Celtic Park.

The result served as a warning to Rangers - who finished nine points adrift of their rivals last season - ahead of their visit to Kilmarnock on Sunday.

With Gareth Bale seemingly on his way out of the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid are ready to launch a fresh bid for Paul Pogba.

Bale is expected to join Chinese Super League (CSL) club Jiangsu Suning and, with the attacker's wages off the books, Madrid are again turning their attention to Manchester United star Pogba.

It has been a mixed pre-season for the LaLiga giants, but perhaps that could change if they land the man they have long been linked with.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID PREPARE £150M POGBA BID

Real Madrid will make a €166.6million (£150m) bid for Manchester United star Pogba, according to The Sun.

Madrid have rebuilt in the close season with the signings of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Ferland Mendy, but Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants Pogba to increase his midfield options.

The France international would immediately add dynamism to a Madrid side that has been accused of being one-paced in recent years.

ROUND-UP

- Romelu Lukaku seems to be inching closer to a Manchester United exit. Linked with a move to Inter, the striker has asked the Premier League club to lower their £80m valuation, according to The Sun. However, Juventus are also apparently in the race. Sky Sports News say Juve will offer Paulo Dybala as part of a deal for the Belgium international, while the Daily Mail report United want Douglas Costa.

- Nicolas Pepe is set for a big-money move from Lille, and it seems Arsenal are close to winning the race for the forward. Arsenal have agreed a £72m (€80m) deal with Lille, according to The Sun. But the report says they still face plenty of competition to sign Pepe amid interest from five other clubs – Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

- With the dominoes finally starting to fall, Manchester United have reached an agreement with Sporting CP for Bruno Fernandes, according to Sport. United will pay £63m (€70m) for the Portugal midfielder.

- Arsenal appear on track to strengthen further. They are increasingly confident of signing Celtic defender Kieran Tierney, according to Sky Sports News.

- Everton are continually linked with a move for a forward and they are in talks to sign Juventus striker Moise Kean, Sky Sports News say. The Serie A champions want £36m (€40m) for the teenager, along with a buy-back clause in the deal.

- Radja Nainggolan is unwanted at Inter, but the midfielder apparently wants to stay in Europe. According to Corriere dello Sport, Turkish giants Galatasaray are interested in the Belgian, but only on loan.

Kieran Tierney is struggling to stay focused at Celtic amid interest from Arsenal, according to manager Neil Lennon.

Celtic have rejected two bids from Arsenal for the left-back, who has been a key figure for the Hoops in recent seasons.

Arsenal's second offer is reported to have been in the region of £25million, and although Lennon stated talks are yet to resume, he expects the saga to continue towards the end of the transfer window.

Tierney is not thought to have asked to leave the club, but Lennon acknowledged it is difficult for the 22-year-old to remain focused with his future up in the air.

"It is as we were a week ago," Lennon, speaking as he officially opened the Celtic Festival at Glasgow's Scottish Event Campus, said. "Two bids have been in, two bids have been rejected and that's where we are.

"How confident am I he'll still be a Celtic player come the end of the window? Well, you can never say never.

"That's going to rumble on. If there is interest in him then other clubs may come in or Arsenal may come again. I can't predict that.

"At the minute, he's working away in the background and it's difficult for him to keep focused because he's only human, but we're supporting him all we can."

Celtic have already signed a left-back this close season, bringing in Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo from Rapid Vienna, though Lennon suggested the Scottish champions have a further contingency plan in place should Tierney depart.

"We obviously have worked out other options if that worst-case scenario were to happen," Lennon added.

 

An emotional Leigh Griffiths paid tribute to Celtic and his team-mates after scoring his first goal since going on an extended leave of absence for mental health problems in December.

Celtic hosted Estonia's Nomme Kalju in the second round of Champions League qualifying on Wednesday and ran out 5-0 winners in the first leg.

Ryan Christie was the star, scoring twice and getting an assist, but Griffths grabbed the headlines with his first-half free-kick.

Griffiths missed the second half of last season after Celtic granted him leave and the striker ranks his goal among his career highlights after a difficult few months.

"Words can't describe how good a feeling that was when the ball hit the back of the net," the Scotland forward told Celtic TV. "I'm absolutely delighted.

"So much hard work has been done, not just by me, but by the backroom staff and all connected with myself to get back on the pitch.

"I can't score goals without my team-mates, my biggest thanks goes to them.

"Hopefully that's the start of more goals. My kids were watching me and I had friends in the stands too. I was close to crying.

"It's up there with the England moments [scoring a brace for Scotland against the Three Lions in 2017] if I'm honest.

"A big thank you to my team-mates and everyone connected with the club. If it wasn't for them then I wouldn't be back on the pitch."

Celtic travel to Estonia for the second leg on Tuesday and, barring a capitulation in that match, will face Cluj or Maccabi Tel Aviv in the third qualifying round.

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