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OLD FIRM

Gerrard: I can't defend Morelos anymore

Gerrard: I can't defend Morelos anymore

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Alfredo Morelos was dismissed in Rangers' 2-1 loss at Celtic and manager Steven Gerrard could offer no defence for the young forward.

Steven Gerrard is running out of patience with Alfredo Morelos after the Rangers striker was shown his fifth red card of the season in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to rivals Celtic.

Morelos is the Scottish Premiership's top scorer this season with 17 goals, but his disciplinary record has hampered Gerrard's side on numerous occasions.

His latest indiscretion was an off-the-ball elbow on Scott Brown just after the half-hour mark at Celtic Park, referee Bobby Madden having no hesitation to send the striker off.

Despite having 10 men for the final hour of the match, Rangers still fought back to level, only to be beaten with four minutes to play by James Forrest's strike, sending Celtic 13 points clear at the summit. 

Gerrard cut a frustrated figure after the match and confirmed he was running out of ways to defend Morelos, who will be fined by Rangers.

"The reality is if you raise your arm you leave yourself wide open," he told Rangers TV. "Obviously he's been provoked in the first place, but it's happened on too many occasions now. 

"I've gone above and beyond, I've backed Alfredo more than enough and I can't defend him anymore, is the reality.

Punishment forthcoming for Morales

"He'll be punished internally for it and we'll move forward."

Gerrard felt Brown should have also been punished for his provocation, particularly after further incidents with Ryan Kent and Andy Halliday.

"You're playing against a player who loves to antagonise," Gerrard told Sky Sports. "Morelos and Kent are both provoked. 

"The guy who antagonised it all from the beginning [Brown] deserves to be punished as well. When you're provoked, it's only fair that both sides get punished in my view.

"We've hurt ourselves badly this season with a lack of discipline. I've given my players the benefit of the doubt on too many times. Morelos has asked me for a chat, and that will be picked up."

Celtic interim boss Neil Lennon came to the defence of Brown – who was seen laughing on the sidelines when Morelos made his way to the dressing room – and felt Rangers were lucky to finish the match with 10 men.

"I'm not happy with the treatment Scott Brown got today," he told BBC Sportsound. "He's been elbowed in the face [by Morelos] and he's been punched or pushed in the face by Ryan Kent.

"Rangers should have been down to nine. It's unacceptable."