Rangers 2-3 Celtic: What the Old Firm means for the title race

Celtic ran out 3-2 winners against Rangers at Ibrox in a mammoth Scottish Premier League tie but what did we learn from such a fiery Old Firm match?


(Photo credit: Brian Hargadon)

While strikers proved key in this classic Old Firm tie, both teams displayed a need to improve their defensive units with some harrowing defending on display at the Ibrox Stadium

Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata’s early contribution was almost comical: with just 270 seconds on the clock the defender was robbed of the ball by Josh Windass to give Rangers into an early lead. 

Throughout the game, the away side were found wanting down both wings, struggling to come to terms with the Gers wide attacking outlets: for the second Ranger’s goal, Declan John worked space to cross into the Celtic box for Daniel Candeias who, in spite of the fact Celtic had enough players in the box, made Celtic pay. 

To make matters worse for Brendan Rodgers side, they ended the game with ten men: Jozo Šimunović’s season has been mediocre, at best. And the Croatian international’s fortunes took a turn for the worst, the 23-year-old swinging elbow into Alfredo Morelos to get himself sent off in the second half.

Whoever makes fewer mistakes wins…

But, if Celtic’s defence was poor, so was their rivals. 

The Hoops twice levelled before taking the lead with Tom Rogic allowed far too much time to slot in Brendan Rogers side’s first.

Just before halftime, Ranger’s Fabio Cardoso, an early replacement for David Bates, couldn’t deal failed to deal with a simple punt to Dembele who pounced, lofting the ball over the head of the onrushing Wes Foderingham.

Questions over Rangers defence were raised again during a rare Celtic second-half attack. Substitute Odsonne Edouard easily cut inside and to shoot past Foderingham again, taking ten-men Celtic into the lead for the first time in the game.

Celtic continue to make basic errors individually and collectively: for a side with European ambitions, Brendan Rogers must improve his side’s concentration. 

As for Rangers, an effective attacking ambition was continually undermined by poor defensive play. While it may have made for a good spectacle, they won’t unseat Celtic anytime soon unless they can tighten up.

Celtic boast greater firepower

Celtic have a quality option in Odsonne Edouard, who inspired his side to victory from the bench against Morton in the Scottish Cup last week and scored the winner only two minutes after replacing James Forrest in the Old Firm.

His telling contribution against Rangers on the big stage appearance illuminated the key gulf in squad depth between the two rivals.

While Rangers were able to bring on Jason Cummings, who possesses the sort of ability to make a difference, Rangers manager Graeme Murty’s game-changing options beyond Cummings were limited. 

Rodgers has no such issues, with the Celtic boss having Scott Sinclair, Patrick Roberts and Charly Musonda on the bench to choose from. 

The Hoop’s dominance continues

Sunday’s fixture saw Celtic conquer Rangers for their fourth straight league victory at Ibrox for the first in time in the club’s history.

The result means Rodgers maintains his unbeaten record against Rangers in all competitions, giving him a degree of seeming Old Firm immortality 

The two sides have squared off half a dozen times in Rodgers’ first term in Scottish football last season, with the Northern Irishman masterminding convincing results across the board. 

Last season, Rodgers registered two 5-1 wins over the Gers, three further wins and a draw – meaning Celtic put 16 goals past their bitter rivals last season on their way to the Scottish treble.

Prior to their most recent encounter, Rangers were yet to score against the Hoops this season, as Rodgers’ men held firm in the previous two meetings, winning 2-0 at Ibrox in September a no-score bore draw in December failed to live up to expectations in Glasgow.

Despite Rangers efforts, then, the advantage is still firmly with Rodgers and Celtic in Scottish football, it seems.

Is the tide turning in Scottish football towards a renewed Celtic-Rangers rivalry? Let us know your comments below. 

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James Copley

Born and raised in Hendon, Sunderland - graduated with a BA in History from the University of Swansea, now back up north studying a Masters in Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland. Raised a Sunderland AFC fan and supporter of the Welsh national team due to Cardiff-born father and wider family.

Has written about Sunderland AFC and boxing for SBNation's Roker Report & Bad Left Hook respectively.

Twitter: @JamesCopley73

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