Rangers 3-2 Celtic – as it happened
Rangers emerged as comfortable winners against a Celtic team that, despite a late rally, were lacking in both brain and bite.Image from Well Offside.
Anyway, thank you all very much for reading, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday. I’m off to set fire to cars.
Other thoughts: For a game with three red cards, plus a managerial dismissal, that was relatively spite-free. The ref had a pretty good game, and it would be hard to argue with any of the dismissals.
Wrap-up: Fitba, eh? Rangers will be delighted to have prevented an Old Firm title victory. They were the better side even before Cha and Wanyema’s brainfades: the interplay between McCulloch, Aluko and Wallace down the left leading to the first red. Aluko scored a brilliant opener and Celtic looked jaded, tired, and frankly not up for it until the late and ultimately irrelevant rally.
FULL TIME: And there we are. The game ends 3-2 with Celtic fans doing their own Poznan. Ibrox is jubilant, while Celtic have saved some face when it looked briefly liked they’d be on the wrong end of a hammering.
GOAL! 2-3 Rogne! Commons curls in a beautiful effort, and Rogne crashes an unstoppable header past the well-beaten McGregor. Blimey. Is this on?
91 min: Commons is nudged over by Whittaker and Celtic have a platform to swing the ball into the box. Commons will take …
91 min: A long hopeful punt down the middle is collected easily by Forster.
90 min: Brown does brilliantly to make fifty-odd yards, riding his luck and a few challenges. Samaras takes over on the left but is tackled, and the long throw results in a Rangers free-kick. We will have a minimum of four minutes added time.
GOAL! Celtic 1-3 (Brown, pen). Brown hits it hard and low to the left; McGregor guesses correctly but can’t get down to it.
PENALTY Celtic! Samaras chests the ball down excellently and is suddenly free in the box, before being tripped by a clumsy Bocanegra hack. The card is red, as it had to be, and here’s some consolation for Celtic, maybe.
86 min: A long throw from Matthews is flicked on by Scott Brown, but McGregor is able to punch clear. Rangers’ nascent break is shut down.
84 min: “3-0. The SPL title race has been blown wide open.” deadpans TheWestStand. Though this will reduce the gap to 18 points …
82 min: Bocanegra clears the first corner for one on the other side. Commons takes again, and it’s an excellent delivery, which Rogne meets slightly off-balance. His header passes a couple of feet over McGregor’s goal.
81 min: A clash of heads between McCulloch and Brown, and both men are down and receiving treatment. The free-kick goes to Celtic, and Commons chips it in, but it’s cleared away for a Celtic throw, which they manage to upgrade into a corner when Samaras is tackled in the box. McCulloch and Brown come back on.
79 min: Kerkhar is booked for tugging down Brown. Only the fourth card of the day, if memory serves, albeit two of them have been red. Plus Lennon was dismissed as well. Do managers get shown cards?
GOAL! Rangers 3-0 (Wallace)! Celtic’s first spell of possession for a while ends when a weak square pass is tackled by Wallace. Davis breaks up field and lays it perfectly back into Wallace’s path, who finishes neatly, first-time past Forster. Wallace is then removed for Kerkhar, to general applause. “Little chance of Celtic winning the league here…” noted TheWestStand at 2-0. True dat.
Goal replay: There’s a faint possibility that Wallace, who had the first attempt, was a inch or two offside. Close, though. Meanwhile, back in real time, Samaras jumps through the back of McCulloch and is penalised. he apologises, which is nice.
73 min: Joe Ledley picks up a yellow card for kicking somebody or other.
GOAL! Rangers 2-0 (Little, with his first touch!). A deep cross is completely missed by Rogne, who may have the sun in his eyes. Forster does brilliantly to save the first shot from point-blank range, but Little is following up and smashes it home. Delirium for the home support; desperate defending from the visitors.
70 mins: McCulloch hammers one from twenty-odd yards. It lands just in front of Forster, who can only push it wide. He’s back up in time to save the rebound with his foot. Good goalkeeping. Aluko is replaced by Little; Commons came on earlier for Celtic, but I missed for who. Apologies.
68 min: Rangers are just stroking the ball around in midfield, here, Celtic completely unable to press in any effective fashion. Aluko, who had treatment on a knock, is back on, and Davis nearly squeezes the ball through to Lafferty. “I’m a massive fan of loud partying fans being silenced. I’d love a Celtic equaliser”, says boother19, the big meanie.
66 min: That’s better from Samaras. The ball sticks to his chest and he wins a free-kick. Some Rangers fans are Poznaning away, as Mulgrew apologises the free-kick into the wall. Rangers break, Lafferty spins round Izaguirre, and hammers a short straight at Forster. Aluko has made yards in the middle to support him.
64 min: Rangers have a corner after Rogne misjudges an Aluko cross. It’s tapped short, and Brown heads away the resulting cross. Rangers work it round to Whittaker again, but his cross is deep and poor. Something of a lull in the atmosphere.
63 min: Papac, in a promising position, zigs, but his teammates zag, and his cute throughball looks silly.
62 min: I’m worried about Samaras. He chases a long, poor ball into the corner, then follows it out of play. He looks upset at the best of times; this is going to be a long, futile half-hour of chasing scraps. Somebody give him a hug later, eh?
Correction: It’s Wanyama that has been dismissed. Apologies for my fat-fignered fumblings.
60 min: Aluko’s corner is bobz.
59 min: Aluko slips a neat inside-out pass to McCulloch, who’s into the box in space. The recovering defender makes the block and the ball arcs teasingly onto the roof of the net, with Forster not entirely secure. There’s a delay while McCabe receives treatment, and he’ll come off after a very impressive first hour. Lafferty will replace him.
57 min: Aluko whaps the free-kick into a gap between the wall and Scott Brown. Forster might have had it covered as it flies a few inches wide of the post. Ibrox nearly went bonkers there.
RED CARD! Celtic down to NINE men. Rangers are working the ball from side to side, dragging Celtic’s defence hither and yon. Eventually, Enyama gets tired and flies in with a reckless, needless, brainless, futile two-footed tackle. Both feet in the air, studs into the ball, and out comes the red card. Idiot.
54 min: Izaguirre — who will be crucial if Celtic are going to get back into this — is hauled to the floor by Whittaker, who is scolded but not booked. Ki fires the cross well over everyone, but the replay catches Whittaker dragging a Celtic forward to the ground in the box. The referee missed it, which will doubtless improve Neil Lennon’s mood.
53 min: “There’s a strange fluttering noise on the audio, like a cross moth is trapped in the tiny little window…” eloquises Philby1976. The clock’s back though.
?? min: The clock’s missing. Aluko claims he’s been impeded in the box, but the referee diasgrees. Wallace then swings in a nasty cross aimed towards McCulloch’s feet, but Forster and his defence manage to deal with it.
Ah, it was Sky’s problem, not mine. We’re back. Don’t think anything’s happened but we’ve got no commentary for the moment, and the picture is jiggering and pokering like a jiggery, pokery thing.
Technical problems, please bear with me.
48 min: Aluko turn in a circle on the left edge of the box, before seeing nothing on and having a punt. It flies wide. It appears that Neil Lennon has managed to get himself sent off at half-time, by the way, for something he said to the match official. Oh, Neil.
46 min: “It will have been short team-talk from Ally McCoist,” says our commentator. What did they talk about for the rest of the break, then? Interesting Glaswegian flora and fauna? McCulloch wrestles for a long ball and wants a free, but nothing doing. Then, Joe Ledley kicks somebody in midfield.
45 min: And we’re back. McCulloch accidentally kicks a Celtic player in the head. McCoist wants “more of the same”, which is entirely unsurprising.
Truth from the Twitter: “Blimey, Ibrox knows how to put a HT mix-tape together”, says Philby1976. It’s definitely on a cassette, inlay lovingly hand-inked by Ally McCoist. Meanwhile, ShaughanM has this cruel, cruel jibe: “A man down might not affect Celtic. Samaras can do the work of 2 men. Unfortunately its normally Laurel and Hardy.” OUCH.
There is a seriously phat beat reverberating around Ibrox. Thump, thump, thump. It’s providing a nice counterpoint to the car alarms having an argument outside my window. If I go missing in the second half, it’s because I’ve been arrested after beating two car owners to death with their own shoes.
Those “Stella Artois Four, silver plate” adverts are seriously getting on my wick. You’re Stella. You exist to facilitate low-level violence. Stop pretending to actually be a product of any distinction. The same goes for this ongoing campaign to redefine Jack Daniels as well. Stop it.
Replays of the red card: Cha grabs his shoulder and tugs him back. Can’t see any way to argue with that.
Charlie Nicholas doesn’t think Celtic have turned up, which is harsh; that’s basically all they have managed. He picks out Wallace on the left as having been important, which is right; he’s linked well with Aluko and was bundled over for the red.
Thoughts: Well, that was pretty entertaining, if not the most high-quality game of football in the history of the universe. Rangers appear to have channeled their woes into a performance of purpose and drive, McCulloch and Aluko’s causing different-but-complementary problems for Celtic’s defence even before Cha got himself sent off. Since then, Izaguirre has had a couple of moments down the left, but Rangers are monopolising possession and pushing Celtic’s midfield back, which is leaving Samaras looking as futile as an empty box of Smints.
46 min: Good work from Izaguirre, who beats one man down the left, then wins the ball back after losing it. He advances along the byline and into the area, but instead of pulling it back he tries to drive it across the box, and it’s blocked. And that’s half-time. Blimey.
45 min: Aluko and Brown exchange pleasantries after the latter kicks the ball into the former, then follows through a touch. I wouldn’t argue with Scott Brown, he’s a terrifying-looking man. The ref has a word. Maybe “pleat”.
43 min: Celtic win a free-kick just inside the Rangers half after Brown is tripped by Davis. Izaguirre finds some space down the left, but his cross is much too loopingly deep, and McGregor can catch in a relaxed and risk-free fashion.
42 min: Samaras handles a long ball, and sarcastically applauds the referee’s decision. No card, possibly as a sympathy gesture; possibly because the official didn’t see.
41 min: Oooh, I just found half a box of Smints. Get in.
40 min: McCulloch is pushed by somebody or other in hoops, and Aluko prepares to whip in a free-kick. However, he sends it far too deep. Samaras trundles up the other end and thinks he should win a free-kick after Papac trips/tackles him. He’s right; poor decision from the referee there.
37 min: As you’d expect, Rangers are beginning to dominate possession. Aluko beats another man and, while Celtic hack clear, Samaras is marooned up front on his own, and it’s back with Rangers. Celtic’s two banks of four are being pushed deeper and deeper here. you wouldn’t bet against another Rangers goal before half-time.
37 min: Matthews flings a long throw into the Rangers box. It comes back out to him, he passes it to Brown, and his cross is poor. Some dodgy communication at the back gives Matthews another opportunity to throw, but McGregor claims it eventually.
34 min: Samaras is manhandled by the Rangers defence, but no free-kick is forthcoming. He complains in that shaggy-haired, vaguely disappointed way he does. Interesting fact: “Samaras” is a Greek word with no direct English translation. It means something between “existential loneliness” and “ornamental pot-plant”.
32 min: “Cha-ha-ha” says @FootballFatties. Brown nudges McCulloch by the touchline, and Lennon disputes the decision, or the reaction, or just has a bit of a shout. His team are being well-beaten at the moment, so it’s understandable.
31 min: Stokes off, Izaguirre on. Samaras is a much better target for long balls, so that makes sense.” ‘Smuggling’ also conjures up images of dastardly Revenue & Customs officials to be outwitted… 8-)” says Philby1976, via the Twitter, rather mischievously.
29 min: Rhys McCabe smacks the free-kick into the wall. Izaguirre is getting ready to come on for Celtic. Aluko is hacked down thirty yards from goal as the game heats up just a little. McCabe goes low with this one, but Forster is safely behind it.
RED CARD! Cha sent off for Celtic! Wallace got the wrong side of Cha and the Korean trips him just outside the box. He was the last man, not that that’s the rule, but if there was contact, and it looked like there was, then he can’t complain too much.
26 min: Brown whips a very flat, very tight cross from the right byline. Stokes should nod it back across goal, but instead goes for goal, and it’s simple for McGregor.
24 min: Samaras square up Goian on the left of the box but tries to thread the ball to Stokes, ineptly. Brown then turns Papac on the right, and is dumped on his arse for his troubles. Free-kick goes in, but McCage clears.
23 min: Ki has a shot from 25 yards. It’s crap.
22 min: Aluko cuts inside. The Celtic defenders back away and he slips it to Wallace, who is free on the left of the area. He attempts the side foot and wedges it over, when the laces might have been the better option. A good chance spurned.
20 min: Whittaker takes control of a switched ball from the impressive Rhys McCabe. Matthews shows him inside, and Whittaker seizes the opportunity to hammer the ball high, wide, and not especially handsome.
19 min: Brown runs free down the right, but Bocanegra blocks his progress, and Rangers smuggle the ball away. “Smuggle the ball away” is one of my favourite footballing phrases, incidentally, conjuring as it does images of caves, lanterns, and small groups of children accidentally uncovering international criminal conspiracies.
18 min: Looking at the goal again, both Celtic centre-backs were beaten far too easily. Between Aluko’s skill on the ground, and McCulloch’s pwoer in the air, it could be a long old game for Rogne and Mulgrew. Stokes chases a chipped-through ball and is flagged — incorrectly –offside. Lucky for Papac, who moved up late.
17 min: Aluko works half-a-yard and his shot is deflected. Another Rangers corner, another Celtic clearance.
16 min: Ledley swings in a brilliant cross from the left, but Papac gets there ahead of Brown. Rangers charge up the other end and win a corner. The ball to McCulloch is reaping dividends, but the set piece is poor, and Celtic can clear their lines.
14 min: McGregor gets a decent fist onto a Mulgrew corner. Then Stokes finds himself in plenty of space. He chests and hits the volley on the turn — Crouch-lite — and McGregor tips it wide, before bollocking Bocanegra. This is breathless. Rangers gets the corner clear.
14 min: Rangers come again. Whittaker has time to measure a cross but it’s weak. Then Samaras charges upfield, and, after beating two, draws a brilliant save from McGregor. Stokes has a chance on the follow-up, but blazes over, much to the amusement of the home crowd.
GOAL! Rangers 1-0 (Aluko). Brilliant! Aluko nutmegs Rogne, cuts inside another defender, and slips it under the advancing Forster. Ibrox goes bonkers at he salutes the fans. Celtic have responded by putting Samaras up alongside Stokes, but they can’t really argue with the goal; they’ve had almost no possession.
9 min: The corner is cleared. Ki then passes the ball to Stokes who looks to be away, but only because he’s a few yards offside.
8 min: McCulloch runs free of the defence, but the whistle had already gone for a Rangers free-kick. Goian was prone, but there’s no lasting damage, and he lofts a long ball forward. Whittaker beats Samaras and crosses, and eventually it’s out for a corner on the far side. It’s all Rangers so far.
6 min: Better from Rangers. Papac trundles down the left after some neat passing, and tries to play it to Aluko. Samaras is back defending, and Rhys McCabe thraps in a shot from the corner of the box. Forster watches it wide.
5 min: The long ball to McCulloch seems to be Rangers early tactic, though he can’t link with Aluko this time.
4 min: First foul of the game: Wallace on Brown, midfield trip. Not much in it, which is slightly disappointing.
3 min: A long ball is flicked on by McCulloch for Aluko. Rogne gets the tackle in but Rangers work it to Aluko again, and Cha clears for a corner. The set piece bounces across the box and Whittaker’s cross-shot is blocked. Ibrox is hopping.
2 min: Mulgrew hits a long ball forward towards Stokes, but its easily cut out by Bocanegra. Rangers, incidentally, are playing 4 at the back. Never trust your television.
1 min: And we’re off! The ball bounces around the midfield for a bit, before Aluko chases a ball down the Rangers left. The defence clears into touch, and a long throw is flicked into Forster’s hands.
Manager watch: Ally McCoist is suited, with a black cardigan restraining his tie. Neil Lennon is wearing a charcoal grey tracksuit.
“Simply The Best” booms out of the Ibrox speakers. Can’t go wrong with a bit of Tina. Looks like Rangers are going 5-3-2, according to Sky. Aluko plays off McCulloch up front.
“It is literally shaking”, according to our host. While I cannot verify that, it’s certainly pretty bloody loud. The Celtic fans have all been issued/brought half-green, half-white flags, and they’re waving away. Tiny Union Jacks are responding from the home support. We have teams in the tunnel. Does Scott Brown have a handprint tattooed on his arm?
Brian Laudrup is a disgracefully handsome man.
It’s a lovely sunny day in Glasgow. Flags are waving, Union Jack stetsons are very much in evidence. The Scottish league trophy is here, and we’re being reminded that it’s nigh-on two years since Neil Lennon took the job. He says his players are very motivated, as well they might be. His team will play a 4-5-1, with Samaras wide, and Stokes up front alone.
Rangers: McGregor, Goian, Bocanegra, Perry, Whittaker, Papac, Edu, McCabe, Davis, Aluko, McCulloch.
Substitutes: Alexander, Lafferty, Bedoya, Kerkar, Perry, Little, Mitchell.
Celtic: Forster, Cha, Rogne, Mulgrew, Matthews, Brown, Ki, Ledley, Wanyama, Samaras, Stokes.
Substitutes: Zaluska, K Wilson, Izaguirre, McGeouch, Hooper, Brozek, Commons.
Referee: A braver man than me.
A pre-emptive apology. The SPL is not my usual beat, and as such there will probably be mistakes. Soz and that. Imma scurry off and find some team news.
Meanwhile Steven Davis, Rangers captain, reckons that everything happening off the pitch has affected them mentally on it. “There’s no doubt everything happening off the pitch has affected us mentally on it,” he told the Beeb. Rangers — who led Celtic by 15 points at one stage this season — have lost three of their last five league games. More context? A loss here, as well as ceding the title, and it would be the first time that Rangers had lost four games in a row EVER. (That last stat poached from the radio, don’t squeal at me if it’s wrong.)
Neil Lennon, Celtic manager, has said this to the BBC on the prospect of such a win: “If we win the title on Sunday we will enjoy the moment but we we won’t be there to gloat. The last thing we want to do is rub it in people’s faces. We will be respectful of everyone at the stadium. It doesn’t matter when it [the title win] comes or where it comes it will celebrated regardless, there will be a lot of euphoria, a lot of joy and a lot of pride.”
This has two immediately relevant consequences. The first is that some Celtic fans may, according to some voice or other on the radio yesterday, turn up wearing bowler hats, which would be quite funny. The second is that Rangers’ ten-point penalty for entering administration, coupled with Motherwell’s 2-0 loss to Kilmarnock yesterday, means a win for Celtic would secure the title. In March. At Ibrox. In March. At Ibrox. Oy vey.
If ever there was a fixture that didn’t need any extra context, it’s this one. I’m not an expert on north-of-the-border fitba, but I believe the two sides aren’t particularly fond of one another at the best of times. But context we have, in spadefuls. Rangers, as you may have heard, are bedevilled by off-field financial ructions, and find themselves in administration, up for sale, and being pursued by a motley posse of Her Majesty’s finest tax inspectors waving a large red bill approximately the size of an Outer Hebride. (Do you get singular Hebrides?)
Good afternoon. How’s it going?