Saturday, October 20, 2007

Celtic FC Lay Egg In First Old Firm Derby

With Help

Scottish Premier League
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Ibrox, Glasgow

(Novo 28, 79, Ferguson 55)


RANGERS (4-5-1) McGregor; Hutton, Cuellar, Weir, Papac; McCulloch, Thomson, Ferguson, Adam, Novo (Naismith 80); Cousins (Beasley 76).
Subs: Carroll, Faye, Whittaker, Lennon, Emslie.

CELTIC (4-5-1) Boruc; O’Dea, Caldwell, McManus (Kennedy 45), Naylor; Nakamura (McGeady 59), Brown, Donati, Sno, Jarosik; McDonald.
Subs: Brown, Riordan, O’Brien, Bjarnason, Cuthbert.

CELTIC left Ibrox empty-handed after the first derby game of the season resulted in a 3-0 defeat to their oldest rivals.

It was a heavy defeat for a Celtic side that had been wracked by injury in the build-up and took the field today with left-sided centre-back Darren O’Dea filling in at right-back and Scott McDonald ploughing a lone furrow up front.

But it was a game that was completely over-shadowed by what looked like a serious head injury to Celtic captain, Stephen McManus, who was stretchered off just before half-time.

Celtic actually enjoyed the first chance of the match in five minutes, when an O’Dea ball down the line for Scott Brown was insufficiently cleared by Rangers, headed back into the mix by Jarosik and then met in the air by a Scott McDonald bicycle kick which sailed inches past the post.

As the resulting corner was waiting to be taken, a small altercation broke out in the box, with McDonald booked in the aftermath and with both sides attempting to lay down an early marker, tempers remained on edge throughout the half.

The home side were largely seeking to take advantage of a series of set pieces which were aimed at the considerable targets provided by striker, Daniel Cousins, midfielder Lee McCulloch and defenders, Davie Weir, Sasa Papac and Carlos Cuellar.

All were sufficiently dealt with by this makeshift Celtic defence, but when the opening goal did come in the 28th minute, it was as a result of some uncharacteristic indecision by Gary Caldwell.

The Celtic centre-back did have the opportunity to deal with Alan Hutton’s looping cross when it arrived in front of him around six yards out, but he instead let it travel to the back post where it was met in the air by Nacho Novo and headed past the helpless Artur Boruc.

If anything, this opener only heightened the already frantic pace and while there was very little by way of goalscoring chances, the tackles continued to fly-in across the park and, not long after Jiri Jarosik had curled a long-range effort wide, Stephen McManus was forced to leave the field after a mid-air collision with Cousins.

The injury was a genuine concern for those witnessed it, with the Celtic captain carefully stretchered off with his head supported by the club doctor after five minutes on the turf and he was replaced by John Kennedy, with Caldwell switching to right-back and O’Dea moving to centre-back.

When the teams re-emerged after the interval Jarosik took advantage of some ball-watching in the Rangers back four and stabbed a shot at goal and, despite the loss of a goal and their captain, the Celtic players started with purpose and confidence.

This was however shattered in the 55th minute when Barry Ferguson seized upon a loose ball in defence and made it 2-0.

It was a sudden surge by Rangers which initially led to the goal, with Gary Caldwell’s clearing header fired back into the mix by McCulloch and then stabbed home by Ferguson as it ricocheted between the legs of Kennedy and O’Dea.

Gordon Strachan would however have been happy with the response of his players and rather than crumble after this second, Celtic pushed forward and at least attempted to claw their way back into the match.

The players also kept their cool in the face of more than a few inconsistencies in the referee’s decision-making and Massimo Donati did have a chance to score, heading a Caldwell cross wide.

There could be no complaints however about the penalty award for Rangers’ third goal and Mike McCurry was left with little choice but to point to the spot after Evander Sno had rashly slid in at the back of Kevin Thomson after the midfielder had broke away in the box. Nacho Novo then sent Artur Boruc the wrong way to effectively end this game as a contest.

Rangers had thought that they’d grabbed a fourth when Lee McCulloch turned the ball over the line from a yard out after Boruc had produced an excellent stop, but the linesman had raised his flag and there was another set-to on the halfway line which saw a further four players booked.

The result now draws Rangers level on points in the SPL, with Gordon Strachan hoping that some of his players recover in time for Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Benfica.

What Crap All Around. They better improve against Benfica.


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