The dust is still settling after a thriller of a Glasgow derby on Sunday. These games, be it against the 1872 club or the current 2012 incarnation, have varied over the years and yesterday’s was one of the most explosive to date.
This was Neil Lennon’s first Glasgow derby in seven years and despite an early flurry from the visitors, it all looked to be going the host’s way. There was plenty of service to the attackers and in the 27th minute Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring for the home side.
James Forrest flicked through a loose pass midway inside the Celtic half and found Edouard on the run. He evaded his marker’s attempts and recovered from a brief stumble to rush towards goal.
Another challenger stood off him as he honed in on Allan McGregor. Upon doing so he found an opening and belted a shot past defender and keeper to make it 1-0.
Just four minutes later, the first key flash point of the game occurred. With play moving toward the away goal once more, Scott Brown came into contact behind Alfredo Morelos which resulted in the Colombian throwing an elbow directly into the Celtic captain’s face.
Both players demonstrated their trademarks. Broony was letting him know he was there and Morelos did what he does best and lashed out.
It was his fifth red card of the season and that’s just the ones that he’s been punished for. There have been plenty more occurrences that could have and should have been dealt with more severely.
To a greater extent, it was the catalyst for what turned out to be a feisty match. The player may have let his own manager, team mates and supporters down, but it also precipitated proceedings into an outright feud.
Celtic were relentless in the first half, but they were too tame in the second. They didn’t look as convincing in the hunt for the killer goal and Rangers took the incentive.
In the 63rd minute, Ryan Kent found himself in space and in receipt of pass from out wide. Mikael Lustig and Dedryck Boyata both bungled any attempt at halting the on loan winger and gifted him the time and space to score.
To be fair to Kent, he remained cool and composed to finish well, but Boyata and Lustig should have done much better. Scott Bain was unlucky that his touch wasn’t enough to steer it around the post and if he had, it would have been a major let off for his defenders.
Having used all their substitutes by the 73rd minute, Celtic found themselves down to ten men when Boyata went off the field a minute later with an injury. The playing field was level on score and personnel for the first time since Edouard had opened the scoring.
Who would take the impetus from here was anyone’s guess. Rangers threw on Glen Kamara and then Jermaine Defoe sensing that there could be a winner…..and there was.
A underweighted pass by captain James Tavernier allowed Callum McGregor to pounce and play in Edouard just outside the Rangers penalty box. His neat and unselfish play found James Forrest in space and the winger duly slotted home a calm finish to make it 2-1 in the 86th minute.
The game was not done yet though. In the aftermath of Celtic’s second goal, an off the ball incident between Brown and Kent resulted in the Liverpool loanee throwing a hand or fist toward the Celtic captain.
For the second time in the game, Broony found himself on the deck. The game hadn’t even restarted and the rage within the Rangers team was growing.
Bobby Madden did not take any action. He spoke with his official, but no cards were shown.
Once the game restarted, Kent actually had a chance to score. Bain spilled the attempt and Joe Worrall had a chance to equalise, but Kristofer Ajer was Mjallby-like in blocking him and the ball went out for a corner.
The closing stages of the game finished with further flurries, but no more goals came about. Celtic had won the battle to go 13 points clear at the top of the Premiership.
Had Ryan Kent (or Joe Worrall) scored that half chance, the question many would have been debating would have been, why was Kent still on the park? It is without argument that Kent commited a red card offence and there is conclusive evidence of that from more angles than I care to mention.
What remains is for the SFA Compliance Officer to handle matters. Normally, I don’t hold out much hope in these retrospective dealings, but this cannot be defended.
It isn’t a question of will he or won’t he face disciplinary action. More of how much?
Then things turned even more sour, post match. After the final whistle, Andy Halliday received a second yellow card for going after Scott Brown.
Broony had been celebrating in close view of the away support which Halliday took an instant disliking to. That caused a multiplayer brawl, Lustig having his shirt torn and a lot of Celtic players smiling in the face of their enemy.
Steven Gerrard made an awful lot of Brown’s so-called provocative behaviour. He even defended his players’ actions throughout the game, with the exception of Morelos, who he castigated in his post match interview.
If Gerrard found Broony’s behaviour to be provocative, what does he make of Ryan Kent’s? There may have been some baiting going on throughout the match, but it works both ways, as I am sure Scott Brown will testify to after Celtic’s 1-0 defeat at Ibrox in December.
He didn’t walk off the park in that game at the end of 2018 without a fair amount of abuse and taunting aimed directly at him. There was no reaction by the Celtic captain or commendation for keeping his cool.
I wonder if Stevie G wants to talk about that? Probably not.
Rangers revelled in that victory and since then we’ve had to listen to unbearable levels of nonsense from Ibrox to the newsrooms that Celtic were now under siege. The fact is Celtic are still the powerhouse of Scottish football and will continue to be for some time.
The league is all but wrapped up. There are seven games remaining and Celtic only need to win three of them to ensure the title.
However, Rangers will undoubtedly drop more points before the season is out. They will be without Morelos for four games and Halliday for one following today’s ban announcements.
On Tuesday we should find out more about Ryan Kent’s situation. The Compliance Officer will make an announcement before the deadline as to what is to occur.
Hopefully I can now look forward to Celtic picking up some points in the next couple of games against St Mirren (Wednesday) and Livingston (Saturday) before they face Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden (the following Sunday). We’ll know more about the post-split fixtures soon and who they benefit best and with any luck Celtic can snatch the league with their first post-split game if not before.
The top six is looking likely to include those who are currently in it. The order may look different as the remaining games are played, but so far it is looking like it will consist of Celtic, Rangers, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian.
It will be interesting to see if Steve Clarke’s side can catch Rangers. They’ve moved up into third following Aberdeen’s defeat at Tynecastle and the Ayrshire side’s home win over Hamilton meaning they are just 4 points behind.
Rangers are at home to Hearts midweek and away to Motherwell on Sunday. Killie are away to Hibs on Wednesday and home to St Johnstone on Saturday.
After that the top six will all be slugging it out against one another. With such narrow margins between 2nd to 6th place this could be a very interesting finish to the season for those teams concerned.
For now though, I’m just going to sit back and dine on those special moments from Sunday’s game. Here’s to you, Broony.
The violence that took place away from Celtic Park is another dark day for the game in Scotland. It is evident that as well as the sectarian baloney that fill people’s heads, some feel they have to go even further by engaging in fighting and stabbing in the streets.
Scotland has a serious problem and whilst football matches such as these are the catalyst for a minority causing harm to one another, the issue lies solely with them. If people are already carrying a knife or willing to go looking for trouble then I’d argue it is already implanted in their heads.
Win, lose or draw it seems some are ready for trouble before a match has even begun. I don’t know how you are supposed to combat that?