I thought Celtic were going to be like Barca.. but the gap isn't so big and we're closing in.
CONNOR GOLDSON growled Govan defiance on a Rangers title race now he knows Celtic don't compare with Barcelona.
The Light Blues defender arrived from Brighton in the summer to tales of the gap between the Old Firm clubs stretching the distance from Scotland to Spain.
Frustrated at the performance by ref Willie Collum, he went on the front foot to declare pride in his team-mates following a 1-0 defeat at Parkhead.
The irony of the former Brighton defender alleging Collum was swayed by the partisan home support, with only 800 Rangers fans inside the stadium, won't be lost on those who know Ibrox fans prompted the tit-for-tat slash in ticket allocations.
Goldson viewed a pulsating 90 minutes through blue-tinted spectacles, as is his right, but his asssessment will surprise many who watched Allan McGregor make a series of stunning stops in a match Celtic dominated.
He said: "I'm disappointed. I thought we were in the game for the whole match. Obviously, they had a few chances across the game but so did we.
"We were unbeaten for 12 games and we've lost 1-0 but I am proud of the team I play for and of how they performed. We will only keep growing.
"We gave them too much respect in the first half and I don't think we got out and pressurised them and defended a bit too deep.
"In the second half the game was in the balance and we started playing a bit more like we can.
"Just before they scored you started to hear their crowd growing a bit edgy and their players started to force things a bit.
"That is what we wanted, what we knew would happen and the game plan was working but obviously the goal lifted the crowd and their whole team and it was tough to get back. However, I still don't believe the gap between us is so big.
"Obviously, this is the first time I have played in a derby but when I came here in pre-season I heard a lot of people say how much better they were and how they beat Rangers 5-0 last season.
"I thought they were going to be like Barcelona. I am not just saying that.
"There was such a downer in our football club about how big the gap had become it was like some of our players, who are maybe not here anymore, were looking at them like they were nowhere near catchable.
"I am not going to say they are not a good team. They are a good team and we respect them. But we are getting closer and the players the manager has brought in have been together for two, three months. We will get closer."
Steven Gerrard claimed his side were denied a legitimate free-kick in the build-up to the move that ultimately produced the game's winning goal.
The Rangers boss also admitted McGregor deserved to walk for kicking out at Kristoffer Ajer in the first half - and Goldson was fuming at conceding a free-kick late on that needed his keeper to produce another top drawer save from a Leigh Girffiths set-piece.
He was booked for the incident with Ryan Christie and added: "Did you see it? If that makes someone go to ground then I must be the strongest man in history. My one finger must be so strong that it makes someone go to ground.
"The crowd made a noise, a free-kick was awarded and I get a yellow card. It is important the official is strong and plays the game himself.
"It was a foul at their goal as well. Everyone who watches it will see it's a foul.
"But when you are away and the crowd don't cheer for you to get a foul it isn't given but anything their crowd cheer for is always a free-kick. You have to expect it.
"When their crowd make a big noise the referee gives them everything. When you only have a small portion of the crowd and you don't get a noise, there were a lot of play ons when they made fouls.
"But I am not going to sit here and criticise it. At the end of the day, we have lost the game. It was a foul in the build-up but we can't only blame that. We carried on defending but their players were able to run 80 yards with the ball.
"I am not going to blame the referee for our performance. We gave a good account of ourselves but at crucial times in games when it doesn't go your way your are disappointed."
Rangers sit mid-table with just five points from their first four Premiership matches, which also includes draws at Aberdeen and Motherwell.
Players not off on international duty this week will be rewarded with a short break Goldson knows is needed after their relentless run of matches this summer.
He added: "It has been a long few months. We have played a lot of football and the whole team needs a rest. We have got to go on another run now.
"We were unbeaten in 12 games, which is good for a team with 13, 14 new faces.
"We've got to come back refreshed, go on another run and get ready for December when the next game against Celtic comes around."
FEELING BLUE Goldson is disappointed to lose after feeling Rangers matched Celtic in derby
GOLD FINGER Christie goes to ground under challenge from Connor earning him a booking