The point was made to me after the game that it would have been better for Mick Beale to lose this game in an unequivocal manner. Instead, the result is the epitome of equivocation. His team picked themselves off the first half canvas, dominated the champions for most of the second period, so much so he tried to convinced himself they were a match, but conceded late and it was all for not’.
When you lose and you know you have lost, you move swiftly to the recovery position. When you are a loser but it is not evident to you, you are cursed to squat in sporting purgatory – spurgatory, is where Beale finds himself!
Celtic scarcely created a chance during that period, but late in the game, the persistence, first of Jota, then Aaron Mooy, Jota again and Giorgos Giakoumakis in the 88th minute permitted Kyogo his platform to score. In this instant, a title, Champions League qualification and the millions that follow, perhaps domination of the next era of Scottish football, slipped over the horizon for the bulk of the 50,000 in attendance.
The truism that goals change games was never truer than at Ibrox yesterday. Alfredo Morelos collected the ball inside his own half on the 5th minute, before playing a square ball into a space marshalled by Daizen Maeda. What Morelos didn’t realise, was that the entire pitch was pretty much Marshalled by Maeda ©.
Daizen’s interception made its way to James Tavernier, often a troubling sign for the home support. You may remember him from such films as ‘Costly Short Pass at Parkhead’. Tavernier’s pass to Goldson never came close to its intended destination before Daizen took control, dropped the shoulder to glide past the last defender before charging towards McGregor in goal. The keeper fell on the ball to no avail, Celtic were ahead.
The visitors then took control, passing around statuesque players in blue. Kyogo should have doubled the advantage but missed the ball, his time would come later.
Joe Hart did his best to make a contest of the half when a clearance hit the most significant frame in Govan since the great liners were built there. The ball was ushered back to Kent, who would have levelled but the keeper made amends by turning the ball onto the post. This moment revived Newco, who were never again out of the reckoning.
Celtic, usually so secure from corner kicks, conceded two chances to the head of Morelos, but “fitboy” (I think that’s what Greg Taylor called him) missed the target on both occasions.
With Taylor off injured, Josip Juranovic made his first start after injury, at left back. It did not work. Jura was disoriented, allowing Sakala to break forward. He fed Kent on the opposite flank. You and I knew he would turn inside and shoot, but Alistair Johnston, making a very impressive debut, could do little. Kent made smart work of the chance and it was game-on.
Moments later Sakala was going nowhere, but still inside the box, when Carl Starfelt lunged – there is no better word – in the direction of ball and player. Too soon, the ball was elsewhere, Starfelt provided a platform for Sakala’s right foot, it was a penalty. Tavernier lifted the kick into the roof of the net.
Celtic were on the ropes. Confidence was shot and the passing which was so fluid in the first period was never on point. Reinforcements helped little until the 88th minute. Then it happened, Kyogo!
For a squad ravaged by illness, which clearly affected the manager in a manner all too familiar, this was an excellent return.
Celtic should have had a penalty. Sarfelt’s shot was turned away from goal by a two handed save from Goldson. I didn’t see it and there were no appeals from Celtic players, so referee John Beaton gets a pass. VAR should have picked the oversight up but either it didn’t, or Beaton declined the opportunity to check. SFA, we have a problem and it is not getting any better. The handball rule in Celtic games has been an unexplained shambles this season. Explain, please or make way for administrators who do not choose when to speak publicly only when they perceive Celtic were advantaged.