That’s Why We’re Champions

In recent months Scottish football has taken quite the battering.  And rightly so, with all four teams who qualified for European competition being eliminated (although Celtic were reinstated to the Europa League after FC Sion breaking the rules) before the month of September.  If you hadn’t worked it out by the title, I am a huge Rangers supporter.  But there was no excuses for our Euro woes in both games against Malmo FF and NK Maribor.  Despite losing 5-0 on aggregate Hearts had no shame in losing to Tottenham Hotspur, the same can’t be said of Celtic and Dundee United who were eliminated by FC Sion and Slask Wroclaw respectively.

But Sunday’s Old Firm game was a cracker.  It had top-quality finishes, chances at both ends, a red card, hard tackles, a great atmosphere and most importantly for me, a Rangers victory.

After the recent discussion involving the up-and-coming tax cases and alleged insolvency at the club, it was time to concentrate on football matters and it doesn’t get bigger than playing Celtic.  Rangers were a point ahead of their arch rivals going into the first Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox.  With these games however form always goes out the window.

Steven Naismith gave Rangers the lead after 23 minutes after Kelvin Wilson’s poor clearance landed at his feet and using the outside of his right boot, Naismith unleashed a great shot past Fraser Forster.  Celtic began to come back into the game after the goal, and Gary Hooper’s bending finish gave the visitors the equaliser 11 minutes later.  No-one expected what happened next however.  Badr El Kaddouri’s powerful low shot was completely fumbled by Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor to make it 2-1 to Celtic.  A keeper of top quality, it was a big shock for everyone in the ground that he made such an embarassing mistake.

Rangers never dwelled on that mistake and came out the traps brilliantly.  Within a minute of the second half starting Steven Davis rattled the bar with a fine volley before the Ulsterman’s corner connected with Nikica Jelavic’s head to make it 2-2.  Ally McCoist’s words at half-time worked perfectly and Kyle Lafferty believed he had netted his first Old Firm goal only to turn around and see the linesman holding his flag up.  Replays showed he was perfectly onside, the linesman’s eye obviously being caught by Sasa Papac standing in an offside (but most importantly inactive) position.

Glenn Loovens had Celtic’s only opportunity to score in a dismal second half for Neil Lennon’s side, when his powerful header slammed off the post as the Gers defence cleared the ball to safety.  After pouncing on a horrible back-pass from the now famous El Kaddouri, Lafferty and the whole of Ibrox thought he would make it 3-2 but his first touch was that bad it was his only touch as the ball went behind for a goal kick.

His moment finally arrived in the 67th minute when he calmly stroked home through Forster’s legs after a bit of a stramash in the penalty area to send Rangers 3-2 in front, and Ibrox into raptures.  Eight minutes later and Celtic’s misery was extended as Charlie Mulgrew saw a second yellow and a red card for a lunge at Gers captain Davis.  Rangers created more chances and stopped Celtic from doing anything despite Lennon bringing on more attackers.  Naismith made sure of victory in injury time when he darted into the box to crisply volley Davis’s centre low past Forster.

As the fans basked in the glorious Govan sun, “Come On Over To My Place” and “Penny Arcade” over the PA and the satisfaction of seeing the away end empty so quickly, Rangers boss McCoist must have felt so relived that he managed to win his first Old Firm game as manager.  There were so many pluses for ‘Super Ally’ to take from the game.  A convincing win over Celtic, a four-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League, a morale-boosting victory for himself and his players, a welcome distraction from the off-field financial problems.  Take your pick.

Rangers were ruthless, dominating, strong, commanding and decisive.  It was a fantastic performance and victory and again shows every one of our critics why we are champions.

You can see BBC Scotland’s highlights of the game from Sunday via this link: [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/scotland/14966622.stm]

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2 Responses

  1. I am also a Rangers fan and although I was very pleased with Rangers’ performance and result, I still think we are nowhere near a quality European side. Celtic were terrible (especially defensively) and the score flattered them and I think Rangers are not going to improve their European record anytime soon due to such poor opposition week in week out in Scotland.

  2. Agree with the European side but definitely not that the score flattered us, we should have scored more to be really honest. Lafferty’s disallowed goal plus two really bad misses.

    EDIT: Think I’ve read that wrong, so yes I agree the score flattered Celtic! A more reflective final score would have been 4 or 5-1.

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