9:57:30 AMOld Firm victory won't guarantee title for Rangers, warns Nacho Novo
|NACHO NOVO swirled an imaginary glass of wine in honour of buddy Dado Prso after scoring the goal that clinched victory for Rangers against Hibs on Saturday. |
But the little striker is adamant that a vintage victory over Celtic in Saturday's crucial Ibrox Old Firm showdown won't be the signal to start raising the champagne flutes.
Novo netted the crucial second goal 11 minutes from time against Hibs to secure a victory that kept Walter Smith's pacesetters firmly in control of the SPL title race.
The win was Rangers' 12th successive victory in the championship marathon and holders Celtic are battling to keep their bitter rivals in sight.
Smith's men have a points advantage and a game in hand over the Hoops as the season hurtles to a conclusion and the outcome of this week's Old Firm game is likely to play a pivotal role in deciding who will lift the silverware.
Most of the Light Blue legions feel that, after a 3-0 win earlier this term, a second home victory over Gordon Strachan's men will see their team put one hand on the SPL trophy.
Novo, though, insists it is far too early to be discussing deciders and says that even if his side do dump Celtic it will be not be game over.
He said: "People sometimes talk and say if we win the Old Firm games that will be the league won but I don't think so.
"Teams like Falkirk, Hibs, Hearts, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and others make it mega-difficult for Celtic and Rangers.
"To win a league you need to think of every single game. Not just the one. "You never can say in football. Look what happened in 2005. The helicopter was going to Motherwell and had to turn around.
"I think it will be difficult against Celtic. It always is. They are a great team and you never know what can happen over 90 minutes.
"It'll be a different game from the one last October but I hope we can get a good result. An Old Firm game is different but if we keep going and fight for each other we can do the business."
Novo's team are certainly doing that at this vital stage of the season and their determination and drive is admirable.
Smith's team are relentless in their points gathering and the will-to-win and character of the side smacks of a certain former Ranger who saw the win over Hibs.
Retired Croat striker Prso was back at his beloved Ibrox and Novo couldn't resist dedicating his 79thminute finish to his old partner.
He said: "When I scored I made a gesture about having wine to Dado because that is his life now - relaxing and not thinking about football or anything!
"I thought it would be a really nice celebration for him.
"He is the best striker I ever played with, including Fabian Cabellero and Fabrizio Ravanelli."
Novo, of course, has a happy knack of netting against Celtic but he says personal achievements are nowhere near the top of his agenda going into Saturday's crunch.
He said: "For me, the most important thing is to work for the team.
"To score against Celtic is important but it was the same for me to score against Hibs.
"That was another crucial three points as, from now until the end of the season, every game will be like a cup final."
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