RANGERS 1 CELTIC 0
NEW manager, new-look team with five players making their debut in the Glasgow derby. And the same old story.
Celtic’s inability to deal with deadballs cost them dearly yet again in a game at Ibrox where they could have been out of sight at half-time.
Annoyingly, a lot of the good work was obliterated in the 68th minute when Filip Helander rose above his fellow-Swede Carl Starfelt to bullet a Borna Barisic right-wing corner-kick beyond Joe Hart who got a hand to the ball, but the power from close range carried the effort into the net.
The amount of goals the Hoops have conceded from corner-kicks and free-kicks will soon be getting a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
This afternoon’s goal came from the same corner where Callum McGregor inadvertently scored the only goal of the January 2 fixture when all hopes of 10 in a row were extinguished.
Mistakes were made and the home side capitalised big style. Ange Postecoglou watched the team win five in a row at Parkhead, but has now witnessed them losing two in succession away from the east end of Glasgow with this disappointing result following the loss in Alkmaar.
HEADS, YOU LOSE…Filip Helander leaps above Carl Starfelt to score the only goal of the game.
Josip Juranovic made his debut at left-back in place of the injured Greg Taylor and good player the Croatian undoubtedly is he proved conclusively his left foot is for standing on.
Kyogo Furuhashi, playing on the left with Odsonne Edouard through the middle, would surely have benefited from someone keeping him company on the flank in offensive areas. It’s doubtful if Juranovic was forward of him at any time in this contest. The defender’s main instinct was to take the ball to his right and pass inside.
It was a lop-sided Celtic line-up who surrendered possession time and time again when they were under no pressure.
And yet it could have been so different. Postecoglou wanted Edouard to go out with a bang if this was to be his last game as a Celt. Unfortunately, Edouard went out with the merest whimper. He inexplicably passed up the team’s best chance and rarely threatened.
In fact, Celtic only had two shots on target that carried any threat to rookie keeper Robby McCrorie and he scrambled both to safety.
In the first-half, Celtic had the control without the cutting edge. Mind you, they would have had something to show for their efforts in the opening period if Edouard hadn’t somehow squandered an excellent opportunity in the 25th minute.
The opening goal looked a mere touch away, but the Frenchman horribly got it all wrong and screwed a hopeless effort well wide of the post from six yards.
BLUNDER BHOY…Odsonne Edouard has an astonishing miss from only six yards with keeper Robby McCrorie and defender Connor Goldson helpless.
DON’T LOOK NOW…Odsonne Edouard covers his eyes after his dreadful finish from close range.
Ryan Christie set up Liel Abada with a neat pass and the Israeli winger picked out the rampaging Kyogo coming in from the left.
The raider whipped in a low pass straight to the unmarked Edouard and a goal looked on. Alas, the frontman took an appalling touch and McCrorie and his defenders breathed a sigh of relief as the ball was sent meekly yards off target. There was no arguing – it was a horrendous howler from the striker and he knew it.
The Hoops dominated the ball for long periods and, following the usual settling-in period where most players treat the ball like a live grenade, Anthony Ralston picked out Kyogo with a ball from the right, but the Japanese attacker was a few feet off target as he aimed for the faraway top corner.
Kyogo claimed a penalty-kick around the half-hour mark when the ball struck Leon Balagun on the arm, but referee Kevin Clancy deemed it accidental and waved play on.
In the 31st minute, there was a scare for Hart when the home side almost took advantage of a misplaced pass from the unconvincing Starfelt.
The Swede gifted possession on the halfway line and Kemar Roofe sped away before knocking a ball into the box. Alfredo Morelos turned it into the path of Ryan Kent and his low drive from the edge of the box nudged Hart’s left-hand upright on its way past.
David Turnbull wasn’t making much of an impact, but he was extremely unlucky to be the first player booked in the 38th minute after a coming-together with Connor Goldson. It was a 50/50 situation, but ref Clancy was swift to issue a yellow card.
UP IN THE AIR…Kyogo Furuhashi sees his hopes of an impact in the derby disappear.
As Celtic surged forward, moves were breaking down at Edouard whose control was way off. That was highlighted when Goldson misjudged a through ball that allowed the Hoops forward the opportunity to run at Helander. All too easily he surrendered possession and the Hoops had to be satisfied with a fruitless corner-kick.
Into the second-half, Celtic lost their way for 15 minutes or so when they allowed themselves to be pinned back.
Just before the hour mark, Edouard seemed to ease out of a 50/50 challenge and the ball was worked down the left before Kent unleashed a 20-yard drive on target which was well held by Hart to his left.
In the 62nd minute, Turnbull highlighted his awful afternoon in Govan when he drilled a left-wing corner-kick right out of play for a shy to the home side on the opposite flank.
A couple of minutes later, the out-of-sorts playmaker made a mess of a free-kick that sailed harmlessly into the arms of the grateful McCrorie as his Hoops team-mates lined up on the edge of the box.
Match official Clancy was monotonously awarding the Ibrox side a succession of free-kicks as soon as anyone in a blue shirt went to ground and from one they won a right-wing corner-kick after Hart had turned an effort wide of his left-hand post.
GOVAN AND HELL…Ange Postecoglou can’t disguise his disappointment.
Borna Barisic whipped it in, the defenders remained static and Helander was invited to run unhindered into the box to plant a header into the Celtic net. An amateur team would have been severely embarrassed to concede such a goal.
Unsurprisingly, Turnbull and Edouard were immediately withdrawn and Tom Rogic and Ismail Soro were sent on in their place.
Within a minute, Kyogo had an excellent chance to level when he was sent through, but McCrorie raced from his goal and the forward’s effort was smuggled to safety.
Rogic was then hauled down in a dangerous position on the edge of the box. No free-kick was awarded. No surprise.
In the 85th minute, Rogic sent Kyogo scampering through and he pulled the trigger, but the young keeper managed to throw out a right leg and the ball struck his foot and once again diverted to safety. It was the story of Celtic’s day.
With five minutes to go, Abada, who had vanished from proceedings, was removed altogether with Adam Montgomery coming on too late to add width to the left flank.
There is still much to be done by Ange Postecoglou with this team.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Starfelt, Welsh, Juranovic; Turnbull (Soro 68), McGregor, Christie; Abada (sub: Montgomery 85), Edouard (sub: Rogic 68), Kyogo.