Joe Ledley scored the only goal of the game that saw Celtic leapfrog Rangers at the top of the SPL. Celtic dominated throughout but it was a game full of controversial incidents. Lee Wallace appeared to have opened the scoring for Rangers but Fraser Forster scooped the ball out of the net. In the second half Gary Hooper was sent clean through by Georgios Samaras but was incorrectly flagged for offside.
Referee Willie Collum declined to show a red card to Lee McCulloch, David Healy and Kyle Lafferty despite plenty of provocation but Rangers never looked like forcing an equaliser once they went behind.
Celtic had the ball in the net early on when Rangers’ keeper, Allan McGregor spilled the first of two Gary Hooper shots he failed to keep hold off. Georgios Samaras was on-hand to clip the ball over the keeper but was flagged for offside. Despite Celtic enjoying the majority of possession Rangers had the best two chances of the first half. Wallace’s header which Forster’s alertness kept from hitting the net and then Carlos Bocanegra had a gilt-edged chance from six yards out but made a clumsy connection with his knee and sent the ball over.
Sone Aluko caused Celtic some problems early on when playing wide right but with Celtic dominating central midfield Ally McCoist pulled Aluko into the middle, which didn’t prevent Beram Kayal and Victor Wanyama from controlling midfield but blunted Rangers attacking options.
The gales which blew through Glasgow today faded as the game wore on but they were still strong throughout the first half with Celtic playing into the wind. On a couple of occasions Fraser Forster’s clearances didn’t reach the halfway line, in contrast to the second half, when his clearances repeatedly ran through to McGregor in the opposite goal. As a result, half time was a welcome break for Celtic.
The second half was five minutes old when Charlie Mulgrew got his first opportunity to send in a wind-assisted in-swinging corner. There is something curious about a 6’3” central defender taking corner kicks instead of trying to get on the end of them but Mulgrew’s delivery provided evidence as to why this is.
The corner was fast and direct but dipped five yards from goal at the far post. Four players jumped for the ball but Joe Ledley picked the flight of the ball out of the blustery confusion. All the ball needed was the faintest touch to send it bulleting high into the net.
Adam Matthews dominated the right side of the field. His pace allowed him to recover to inhibit any attack down the Rangers left while his control and passing pegged Rangers back throughout. Rangers played Nikica Jelavic on Thomas Rogne, who was hooked when the pair met at Hampden in March, but the 21-year-old Norwegian was never in trouble this evening. Jelavic was a sorry looking shadow of a football player who is flattered by reported interest in him.
Beram Kayal was taken out of the game by Lee McCulloch, who was red carded on his last appearance against St Mirren, but with Kayal on the deck McCulloch hung a limp ankle in the air while writhing in pain. It looked like a break for the Rangers player but he got up after referee Collum decided against showing a red card.
The league’s poorest player, David Healy, made a late cameo and should have been shown a straight red card for a dangerous lunge at James Forrest. Fellow Irishman, Kyle Lafferty, was also lucky to escape a red when he took Adam Matthews out of the game as Rangers lost their discipline late on.