SPL - Brown earns 10-man Celtic Cup replay
Scott Brown struck a stunning equaliser to earn 10-man Celtic a deserved Scottish Cup replay with Glasgow rivals Rangers after an absorbing 2-2 draw in their fifth round tussle at Ibrox.
The winners of the replay at Celtic Park on March 2 face a trip to fellow Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the quarter-finals on the weekend of March 12/13.
Celtic recovered from twice trailing at Ibrox despite having goalkeeper Fraser Forster sent off for taking out Steven Naismith - who was later sent off for diving in the visiting area 15 minutes from time - on 41 minutes.
Despite a wait of several minutes for Celtic to reorganise, Scotland full-back Steven Whittaker stepped up to send substitute goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska the wrong way from the penalty spot as Rangers moved 2-1 ahead at the interval.
The home side were reduced to 10 men when Naismith was sent off for a second yellow card on 74 minutes after he dived in the box under pressure from Charlie Mulgrew with the match level at 2-2.
Replays showed that referee Calum Murray got the red card decision right with Naismith going to ground despite the visiting central defender failing to make any contact with the Rangers forward.
Rangers had moved into the lead on only three minutes when Jamie Ness thumped a wonderful effort into the net from 30 yards out that flew through the legs of Kris Commons before nestling in the rigging.
It was teenager Ness's first goal for Rangers and gave Forster no chance.
Commons levelled for Celtic on 16 minutes when he smashed Joe Ledley's pass beyond the home goalkeeper Allan McGregor from 12 yards out.
After falling behind to Whittaker's penalty, Celtic showed admirable character with captain Brown equalising for the 10 men on 65 minutes after swerving a delightful 25-yard shot beyond McGregor.
Celtic enjoyed 67% of possession and may feel slightly disappointed that they did not leave Ibrox with the win.
The two Glasgow rivals will do it all again in the replay at Celtic Park on March 2.
The sides are set to meet seven times this season in the Scottish Premier League, the CIS Cup final and the Scottish Cup.
Both teams remain on course for a domestic treble, but home manager Walter Smith will be concerned about the manner in which his side seemed to fall out of the contest in the second period.
With El Hadji Diouf making his debut in the Old Firm fixture for Rangers after completing his loan move from Blackburn earlier in the week, Rangers made a vibrant start and could have been 2-0 ahead on four minutes when Nikica Jelavic set up Steven Davis, who saw his shot come crashing back off the bar.
Celtic came to life after that scare with McGregor saving from Beram Kayal and Gary Hooper screwing a shot wide of the goal before Commons restored parity.
Rangers almost struck a minute after Brown's equaliser when Jelavic, who had supplied Naismith with the pass that saw Forster sent off, overhit a pass to Davis that the Northern Irishman just failed to connect with as he dashed into the area.
Despite that miss, Celtic were the dominant force for large swathes of the match - even with the one-man handicap.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon was bold in his changes.
He was forced to withdraw the impressive Commons after Forster's red card while the introduction of Georgios Samaras for Kayal in the second period to partner Hooper were pivotal moments in helping Celtic rescue the tie.
Brown was booked for appearing to taunt Diouf after he netted, but the Scotland midfielder continued to drive Celtic forward in their search for a winner as Rangers struggled to get out of their own half.
Only a miraculous stop from McGregor in the home goal on 72 minutes denied Samaras the decisive goal as he kept out the Greece striker's header from point-blank range.
Rangers threw on Kyle Lafferty and Vladimir Weiss for Diouf and Jelavic, but it did little to alter the pattern of the afternoon.