Celtic 0-2 Rangers

Last updated : 20 February 2005 By Kevin Smith

Celtic were today beaten 2-0 by Rangers at Celtic Park – the away side’s first victory at Parkhead in five years. It was also the first time Martin O’Neill had lost to a Rangers side at home.

It was a game of two halves, Celtic performed well in the opening period but failed to turn up for the second. Gregory Vignal and Nacho Novo were the Rangers goalscorers but both were heavily assisted by individual errors from Celtic players Rab Douglas and Ulrik Laursen.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about today’s game was the lack of fight, spirit and passion from the Celtic side. Our big players John Hartson, Chris Sutton, Stan Petrov, Alan Thompson and Neil Lennon were posted missing and our midfield were non-existent. It has been a long time since I witnessed such a poor a Celtic performance in an Old Firm game and surely we cannot play that bad again?

Credit though, must go to Rangers for their second half performance. They attacked us and were the hungrier of the two sides, deserved winners. Their defenders won every ball in the air and their midfield bossed the game. They also look to have a goalkeeper up there with Stefan Klos, and who saved them on a couple of occasions today, in Ronald Waterreus.

However, the game could possibly have been put to bed in the first half. Craig Bellamy, making his Celtic debut, should have done better with a chance in which he found himself one on one with Waterreus. The Rangers goalkeeper also denied John Hartson in the opening period, with a superb stop from close range.

Rangers never created anything in the first half, and never look threatening at all. At half time no one in the Celtic end seemed particularly worried, but as soon as the teams took the field for the second half, there was cause for concern.

Rangers attacked immediately, but in my head I thought Celtic would handle the pressure for five minutes or so, and retaliate. We didn’t.

In truth, neither of the sides created much chances. In fact, in a footballing sense, it was one of the worst Old Firm games of recent times. Dado Prso saw his shot well saved by Douglas, and Waterreus again denied John Hartson.

Minutes later, what should have been a routine save by Rab Douglas was turned into a Rangers goal. Vignal’s long range shot should never have beaten Douglas and it was reminiscent of his blunder a couple of seasons ago which allowed Mikel Arteta to score. Too many times now has Douglas let us down and it is time for him to go. He is a complete liability and should never play for Celtic again, it was only a matter of time before he made another high profile mistake like today.

The Rangers goal was a test of Celtic’s character. However, the team appeared to lose interest in the game and we never looked like clawing it back. Hartson didn’t seem interested in attempting to win any high balls, and Sutton, like he did at Ibrox in November, totally gave up.

Rangers added a second with eight minutes remaining, when a ball was played through the non-existent Celtic midfield by Ricksen, Ulrik Laursen fell on his arse and Nacho Novo chipped Douglas whose positioning was questionable.

It was disappointing to see many Celtic fans heading for the exits when Novo put the ball into the Celtic net. Those who remained were forced to endure the Rangers fans’ party tunes which included songs mocking child abuse, killing Catholics, swords and shields and some wall in Derry.

Fernando Ricksen appeared to be struck by a missile when taking a corner at the Lisbon Lions Stand. Whoever threw this at Ricksen should be banned from the ground for life, as it has given the media an extremely large and heavy stick to beat us with. Ricksen himself should be taking a look at himself, as he stupidly applauded the Rangers fans at the opposite side of the goal.

All in all it was a bad day at the office, but I am convinced we will not play that bad in an Old Firm game again. We are only three points behind and have a game in hand, so it is not the end of the world. Our goal difference is something which must be addressed but it looks as though it will come down to the last Old Firm game at Ibrox.

Keep the heads up, we are still more than capable of winning this title.

Douglas, McNamara (McGeady), Balde, Varga, Laursen, Lennon, Petrov, Thompson, Sutton, Bellamy, Hartson

Come On The Hoops Man Of The Match:
Stan Varga