In a match that meant little to the Scottish Premiership table, Old Firm meant everything to the teams involved.
For 88 minutes it looked like Rangers put on one of its big bangers. A victory over a Celtic side that has been as perfect as possible. Yes, it was a clash between the top two teams at the table. However, the gap between the two who started the game was nine points. After 19 games, Celtic won 18 and lost just once, a 2–0 defeat to St Mirren.
Therefore, Rangers had a lead with just two minutes of 90 remaining suspense. James Tavernier, whose 53rd minute defensive clearance won in the 80th minute. The challenge, which left the Englishman bloodied, drew massive applause.
Until Kyogo Furuhashi ruined the party in the 88th minute. After a disorderly course of play, the ball twisted towards the penalty spot. Furuhashi slammed the ball into the roof of the net, dulling Ibrox to a murmur.
Despite seven minutes of stoppage time, neither team posed a real threat after that goal. A few goals from Japanese internationals did enough for Celtic to get something out of the game. For Rangers, a pair of goals early in the second half netted just a point. Still, it’s a well-deserved point in a season of change at Ibrox against a heavily favored Celtic side.
Old Firm delivers fireworks
When Daizen Maeda scored in the fifth minute, there were concerns of a blowout. A horrific giveaway in midfield by striker Alfredo Morelos sent Maeda into an immediate counter-attack.
Rangers’ inability to clear led to Celtic’s second goal. Rangers have traditionally been quite competitive defensively. The pair of goals conceded on matchday 20 brought the total number of goals conceded for the season to 20. That goal conceded per game is, unsurprisingly, the second highest against Celtic.
In Old Firm, however, Celtic punish defensive mistakes better than any other team in the Scottish Premiership. With 63 goals scored in their 20 appearances now, Celtic are on track for one of their best goalscoring seasons in recent seasons. At this rate, Celtic would surpass its record of 105 goals in the 2003/04 season.
Americans in the mix on both sides
There was potential for more goals in this game. Before Celtic’s equaliser, Malik Tillman fired a shot that ricocheted off the Celtic goal. In what could have put the game to bed, it was another American who defied his compatriot. Cameron Carter-Vickers, who made one appearance at the 2022 World Cup, blocked desperately to prevent Tillman’s attempt from reaching Joe Hart.
In addition, Carter-Vickers played a strong game, despite conceding two goals. James Sands and Malik Tillman both played for Rangers. Sands even replaced Tillman in the 85th minute, not long after Carter Vickers’ block. They didn’t fare too well, with Tillman’s biggest contribution probably being the miss coming in late to seal the three points.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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