HONOURS EVEN WITH OLD FIRM AS REFEREE LOSES THE PLOT
Report of match Celtic 1 Rangers 1 played 21st April 2002
It was all square at the end of the ninety minutes at Celtic Park in a game that never really got off the ground...
A rain soaked spring day in Glasgow saw Celtic face up to Rangers in the final league derby game of the season and the weather seemed to reflect in the play as both sides failed to put any spark into their performance. It being the old firm though there was a final sting in the tail to round off what had been a disappointing game.
Both sides had important players missing through Injury and Celtic took the opportunity to give Lubo Moravcik a final appearance in front of his adoring Parkhead Public. Stillian Petrov dropped to the bench, after his delayed return from International duty, and Tom Boyd fitted in at the back alongside Crainey and Mjallby.
Rangers, despite being the underdogs, started the game in a positive mood and they hit a shocking opening goal after just two minutes when a Boyd misheader let in Lovencrantz and the Dane hit home off Mjallby to give Douglas no chance.
The early goal seemed to rock Celtic and Rangers took confidence and looked the far more composed team in the early period of the first half. Indeed, Lovencrantz should have made it two when he, again, found himself in loads of space on the Rangers left. This time, though, he could not capitalise and the ball went narrowly past the right hand post.
Rangers continued to dominate and Celtic's play seemed very sluggish at times with the midfield giving the ball away too frequently and not enough second phase ball being won.
Russell Latapy, making his old firm debut, had a glorious chance to put Rangers 2-0 up on the half hour but again the ball went narrowly past the right hand post.
This miss seemed to galvanise Celtic and at long last they started to put some decent passes together. The last 15 minutes of the half belonged to the hoops and they made the most of it with an equaliser just before the break. A long ball into the box was headed back across by Moravicik into the path of Hartson, the Welshman attempted a turn and shot but the ball broke to Thompson six yards out and the midfielder had the easiest of tasks to prod the ball home.
All square at the half then with Rangers probably having the best of the first period, certainly they should have made the most of the chances they had squandered and must have been wondering if they would rue them come the end of the game.
Celtic took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and reorganised the defence to snuff out the threat of Lovencrantz, who had been given far too much room in the first period.
Paul Lambert had to be taken off just after the start of the second half, with what appeared to be an ankle injury, and Stillian Petrov came off the bench to replace him.
In terms of possession and chances created Celtic certainly dominated the second half but there were few real opportunities to capitalise on their dominance.
Henrik Larsson probably came the closest to scoring with a wicked free kick that had Klos scrambling to save and push away. Much as they tried though there was no way through for Celtic and although they had Rangers pressed back into their own half for much of the second half they wasted a lot of good possession with poor passing and an inability to get the ball under control in the danger areas.
Celtic's best attempt on goal in the second half came right at the end when Hartson got on the end of a cross and powered it towards the goal, the ball came back off the bar and landed at the feet of Klos who never seemed to have it under control. Mjallby had a stab at it and Ricksen retaliated by shoving the Swede. Mjaalby acted angrily to the assault by Ricksen and attempted to get at the Dutchman. He was prevented from doing so by several players whilst Ricksen cowered at the back.
Once referee Clarke restored order he sent off Ricksen and Mjallby and then red carded Hartson for some strange reason.
So, a game that promised much but delivered little ended in the usual controversy with the referee seeming to over react to the last minute fracas.
Noticeably the referee did not play any added on time and at the end of the 90 minutes a draw was probably a fair result.
Both managers will be pleased with the outcom ahead of the Old Firm cup final to come and both can take heart from the level of commitment shown by their players - though a little more skill would certainly have been appreciated by the fans.
|Competition: Bank of Scotland Scottish Premiership Kick Off: 12:00 Venue: Parkhead Attendance: 59,384|
|1 - 1||Rangers
|Sorry, there is no commentary available for this match|