This was an excellent victory for Rangers. The club as a whole has been under has been under enormous pressure recently and for their players to respond like this says a lot for them. By contrast, Celtic never seemed to put things together as a unit and I thought a few players failed to rise to the occasion. Not unexpectedly, the goals all came from mistakes of one sort or another.
For Rangers first, Kayal should not have allowed Lafferty the room to turn out on the flank; the striker’s shot was only half-cleared by Kelvin Wilson, leaving Steven Naismith the chance for a shot and what a wonderful effort he sent into the net.
Celtic’s first equaliser was a very precise strike by Gary Hooper, although I should imagine that, like myself, Ally McCoist would have been surprised that an experienced player like Bocanegra did not come out more quickly to leave the Celtic striker in an offside position. And what can you say about Alan McGregor’s mistake which led to Celtic’s second? I should imagine he found the dressing-room a very lonely place at the interval.
Rangers started the second at full throttle. Davis hit the bar with a fine effort; Lafferty scored from an angle but the goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside. So, after that pressure, it was no surprise when Jelavic scored from a corner. It was hard to see who did not pick up whom but, whether the marking is zonal or man-to-man, it is ludicrous to leave the opposition’s main striker un-marked.
Loovens hit the post at the other end, then a mistake by Kayal, who lost the ball too easily in the centre circle, allowed Rangers a quick break, the ball eventually falling to Lafferty, who at the third attempt managed to Rangers ahead. Celtic lost Mulgrew, for a second yellow, although, to be very honest, many a referee would have had him off the pitch for the very late challenge he was only booked for in the first half. The nail in the coffin came after another quick Rangers break, our defence all over the place as Naismith came running from a long way back to seal the 4-2 win.
It is now back to the drawing-board for Neil Lennon and his coaching team. On paper, Celtic look to have not only the more extensive squad but also the more expensive one too. Yet, on this occasion, when it came to the actual playing of the game, that certainly did not look like the position. Our goalkeeper’s kicking of pass-backs causes palpitations among both his defenders and the support, the layout of the midfield was not a success and the two up front failed to gel with each other.
Celtic are now 4 points behind Rangers after 7 league matches; it is not quite like climbing Everest but it certainly is an uphill challenge!