Report: Gers 1 Celtic 0
Sun 28.2.2010 / 12:30
Rangers won all three points at Ibrox today in the old firm encounter thanks to a last gasp Maurice Edu goal. Although it was a well deserved win for Rangers, the game will again be remembered for a big refereeing decision.
Dougie McDonald sent off Celtic captain Scott Brown in the sixty-fourth minute after a tussle with Kyle Lafferty. The two players tangled, and the end up was that Scott Brown headbutted Lafferty in the chest. To be fair it was more handbags than anything else, but Brown did put his head on Lafferty's chest and that can be considered violent conduct.
I can understand why the ref made the decision to send him off, but I would have been happy with a yellow card for each player. This is not the first time that Lafferty has been involved in this kind of incident, and it happened in a similar area of the pitch, when had Charlie Mulgrew of Aberdeen sent off.
However, let's not let this incident overshadow the result, Rangers were the better team over all and deserved their win. I don't think this sending off hugely affected the game.
Rangers made one change for this game from the team which faced Hibernian in the last league game, Kyle Lafferty came in for United States international De Marcus Beasley. Celtic had five old firm debutants, including their big signing Robbie Keane. McGregor started the game for Rangers despite all his off field antics in the past week.
Celtic nearly got off to a dream start after a clumsy clearance from Sasa Papac inside the first minute led to a Robbie Keane shot, but the shot did not trouble McGregor too much. Rangers went up the other end however and had a great chance of their own. Boyd was sent through on the goalkeeper, but Boruc forced the Rangers striker wide, and his shot went into the side netting.
Bougherra was the first player in referee Dougie McDonald's book as early as the fifth minute, which meant he had to be careful for the remaining eight-five minutes. To be fair, over the course of the game, he did have a few other challenges and he can find himself lucky not to have picked up a second. Fortune was also booked early on for Celtic.
Sasa Papac fouled on the edge of the box in the sixteenth minute with a clumsy late challenge. Papace had a couple of mistakes early on including this one but went on to have a brilliant game. The foul presented Celtic with a great chance from a free-kick on the edge of the box. Robbie Keane took the free-kick but sent it just over McGregor's left-hand side.
Rangers were forced into an early change after Lee McCulloch went down with what looked like a bad injury. He seemed to collide with his own player (Kevin Thomson). McCulloch was replaced by the American Maurice Edu. Edu was nearly an old firm hero with his first touch of the ball after he scored from long range, but the goal was chopped off thanks to a Kenny Miller hand ball inside the box.
Celtic also lost a player early on as defender Rogne limped off to be replaced by Darren O'Dea. Kenny Miller was then presented with a great opportunity after a superb pass from Kris Boyd who was deep inside his own half. Miller's shot however was superbly saved by Artur Boruc.
Celtic had one of their best chances of the game in the thirty-fifth minute when Robbie Keane fired in a volley, McGregor saved brilliantly though and proved that Walter Smith was right to stick with the troubled goalkeeper. It was really the only real save McGregor had to make in the game, there was a couple of routine saves, but this was his best of the game.
Lafferty had a great chance to score with a header with just less than five minutes of the first-half to play, but his header did not trouble Artur Boruc. The final chance of the half, and perhaps Celtic's best of the game fell to Fortune, he really should have scored when he was through on the goalkeeper but snatched at the chance and sent it past McGregor's right hand post.
Rangers came out of the traps quickly in the second half, and Davis was unlucky not to get onto a Kyle Lafferty cross in the first minute. Rangers piled on the pressure, and won a couple of corners, from one of the corners, Rangers should have a penalty. In actual fact they had two penalty shouts within seconds of each other after a corner had been flung into the box. First Boyd was tackled, to be fair I don't think this was a penalty, but right after that Hinkel brought down Maurice Edu and Rangers should have had a penalty.
Boruc was again called into action in the fifty-fifth minute. Davis fired in a great shot after a lung busting run, but Boruc saved well from the midfielder's shot. Celtic went on the counter attack and were three on two against the Rangers defence, but Bougherra put in a stupendous tackle on the Celtic forward.
Kyle Lafferty fired in a wild shot in the sixty-third minute which went miles over, before he was then involved in an incident with Scott Brown moments later which resulted in the Celtic captain Brown being ordered off.
Celtic will feel hard done by, and will doubt be coming out with conspiracy theories. They can moan if they like, but he did headbutt Lafferty, although the Northern Ireland international did go down easy.
Rangers continued to pressure the Celtic defence, and looked the far hungrier side, despite Celtic needing the three points more than Celtic. Rangers had wave after wave of attacks, and corners but could not find a way past Artur Boruc and his Celtic defence until deep into injury time.
A determind Nacho Novo run into the box resulted in a Papac shot which was brilliantly turned round the post by Boruc. It was the Celtic keeper who was perhaps at fault though in the lead up to the goal after having a brilliant game.
Boruc fumbled the ball into the path of Edu after Boyd tried to score from close range. Edu could not miss from close range and sent the Ibrox crowd into ecstacy with the winning goal. You could see how much it meant to players as they celebrated with style after the goal, and again after the final whistle.
It would have be a complete miracle if Celtic were to win the league now, and Rangers can only throw it away. Rangers would have to have a complete collapse, but the way they have played this season it is unlikely. Plus Mowbray is not capable of getting his team to string a number of wins together, they are too inconsistent.
So a great three points for Rangers, and it's party time. Anyone for a treble?
Rangers McGregor, Whittaker, Papac, Bougherra, Weir, Davis, McCulloch (Edu 26), Thomson, Lafferty (Novo 70), Boyd, Miller
SUBS NOT USED: Alexander, Wilson, Beasley, Fleck, Little.
BOOKINGS: Bougherra, Miller
GOALS: Edu (90 +2)
Celtic Boruc, Hinkel, Braafheid, Rogne (O'Dea 31), Thompson, N'Guemo, Brown, McGeady (Samaras 61), Keane, Fortune (Ki 68), Kamara.
SUBS NOT USED: Zaluska, Wilson, Zhi, Rasmussen
BOOKINGS: N'Guemo, Fortune
SENT OFF: Brown