match report | An old firm that will be remembered: Celtic Glasgow were too fast, too physical, too passionate for their city rivals, Glasgow Rangers, and won impressively 4-0 in their own stadium. About the most beautiful You’ll Never Walk Alone in the world and 90 minutes full of passion.
Played for the 414th time Celtic Glasgow and the Glasgow Rangers against each other early Saturday afternoon. Hardly any game in Europe is more steeped in history than the legendary one Old Firm. The starting point: Celtic had won each of their five league games, scoring an impressive 21 goals in those games, conceding just one and coming into the derby with the momentum of a record 9-0 win at Dundee United. Forward had six goals Kyogo Furuhashi contributed in the first five games. Rangers had already made a small mistake when they drew at Hibernian FC on Matchday 4. The most abusive Ranger in the first five games of the season: ex-Bundesliga player Antonio Colak with four goals.
It was noisy at Celtic Park as the two teams arrived just minutes before kick-off. The significance of the Old Firm for Scottish football fans was audible, at the latest when the entire stadium – over 60,000 people – stood up and You’ll Never Walk Alone intoned.
When the ball rolled a little later, Celtic got the first shock after a few minutes: top striker Kyogo Furuhashi unhappily crashed into John Lundstram. Kyogo held his shoulder, hobbled across the lawn for two minutes, kept trying to make eye contact with the bench and after three minutes of play it was certain: it couldn’t go on. Kyogo left the pitch with his head bowed to thunderous applause, Georgios Giakoumakis came on for him.
But Celtic did not stumble because of this setback. They played actively and with a lot of pace, defended passionately in what was expected to be a heated game – and a few minutes later they transformed Celtic Park into a mad, really deafening madhouse. Jota quickly executed a throw-in not far from the left corner flag. Matt O’Riley brought the ball halfway up into the box. This one deflected and landed at the feet of Liel Abada, who fired a low shot from the back and tumbled into the net off the fingertips of Rangers keeper Jon McLauchlin. Celtic led, everything escalated. (8th.)
Liel Abada paid tribute to Scottish teenager and Celtic fan Leon Brown, who tragically passed away two days ago, after scoring. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
It was the fifth goal of the season from just 20-year-old Abada. And even in the minutes after the goal, Celtic Park didn’t get quieter. Nonstop singing and whispering during each of the many tackles, like in the 13th minute when Liel Abada fell after a tackle with Ryan Kent in the penalty area and the stadium screamed. There was no penalty whistle.
The Rangers had a slight advantage in possession, but played more patiently but also less dangerously. Only rarely could they combine through the compact defensive block of the home side. Celtic, on the other hand, repeatedly overplayed the high and often unclean pressing of the Rangers with fast, direct ball relays. As soon as they conquered the ball, it went forward in a flash. Again and again Celtic came up with good dangerous opportunities. They were the much more active team – and were rewarded for it:
A quick free-kick for Rangers landed on Matt O’Riley, who swept the ball up the right wing and played a stunning through ball behind the visitors’ defence. iota started lightning fast and controlled the ball from the first contact so that it was at an acute angle to the goal. Jon McLaughlin stormed out of the goal unnecessarily, Jota mentally lobbed the ball over the storming keeper into the goal. And again: ecstasy in Celtic Park. (31.)
It seemed like Rangers couldn’t keep up when Celtic used their raid-type attacks. And the Celtic fans swayed with joy. At the latest, when Greg Taylor crossed into the penalty area after a throw-in from the right wing, Matt O’Riley happily extended it to the second post and Liel Abada shot flat through the legs of Jon McLaughlin straight into the heart of Rangers to make it 3-0. Celtic Park: You know… (39′)
Little structure, a lot of physique and even more passion
Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst reacted at half-time and brought in Scott Wright for Glen Kamara. Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou left his eleven unchanged. The game was also unchanged. Characterized by tough duels, Celtic radiated more danger at every stage of the game. Not because they played more structured than the Rangers, not at all, Celtic always seemed unsorted and with a holey counter-protection, but because the Celtic players approached every sprint and every duel as if it were their last. The intensity with which Celtic led this game was really impressive – and quite overwhelming for Rangers.
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Celtic ran out of the grains to take that one step more in every action after an hour. The Rangers combined, often randomly and rarely structured, into the penalty area, but didn’t have a compelling chance to score. In the 72nd minute, Ange Postecoglou reigned in his games’ tiring legs and made three substitutions: Aaron Mooy, David Turnbull and Daizen Maeda came on for Matt O’Riley, Reo Hatate and Liel Abada.
And somehow, while it sounds macabre, it suited Rangers’ sleepy performance that goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin put the ball – unchallenged and despite two of his team-mates free – right in the feet of David Turnbull who slammed in to make it 4-0 and woke Celtic Park from the little slumber into which it had fallen in the previous few minutes. (78.)
It was the culmination of a thrilling game in which Celtic played as coach Ange Postecoglou had promised. “We try to dominate in the areas where we want to dominate and thus put the opponent under pressure, and when we do that we are difficult to stop,” said Postecoglou and was right. Also because the Rangers remained harmless for the entire 90 minutes.
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)