The Old Firm derby took place at Ibrox Park today and the hoardes of Rangers supporters were the ones celebrating at the end of the game as they earned a deserved 1-0 win thanks to Maurice Edu’s dramatic last-gasp winner two minutes into stoppage time. The three points won are another significant step for Rangers in their quest to win a record extending 53rd Scottish league title. The Gers now have a ten point lead and a game in hand over their arch-rivals from Parkhead although Celtic boss Tony Mowbray will feel that the red card shown to his captain Scott Brown in the 65th minute was yet another example of his team receiving no favours from referees this season.
The 50,230 crowd inside Ibrox Park were in fine voice before a ball had been kicked with Rangers fans showing banners with a host of trophies highlighting their domestic dominance whilst the visiting Celtic support threw white, green and orange streamers on to the pitch whilst waving their traditional Irish tricolor flags. However it was sad that a minute’s silence before the game for former Rangers goalkeeper Gerry Neef, who died on Tuesday February 23rd, was interrupted by certain sections of the crowd. This fixture doesn’t exactly need any extra needle but the Rangers fans certainly reacted with their disapproval.
The action on the pitch soon kicked-off and it was after only thirty seconds of the contest when loan signing Robbie Keane had Celtic’s first chance, shooting at Allan McGregor from just inside the box. Three minutes later the Scottish league’s top scorer Kris Boyd had Rangers first good chance of the game when he rounded keeper Artur Boruc only to hit the side netting with his shot. As is so often typical of Old Firm games the contest turned into a midfield scrap but it was the home side who had the best chances with sub Edu, who had come on for Lee McCulloch in the 27th minute after he suffered an ankle injury, having a goal disallowed after Kenny Miller had handled the ball before it fell into Edu’s path. Kenny Miller then went close in the 29th minute but he shot straight at Celtic keeper Artur Boruc after being put through from Kris Boyd. Celtic did have their chances too with Keane volleying an effort at McGregor on 36 minutes and then, close to half-time, Marc-Antoine Fortuné turned both Madjid Bougherra and David Weir on the edge of the Rangers box but turned his shot wide of the right-hand post.
The game was goalless at half-time but the home side came out much the more determined after the break having plenty of possession and territory. In the 50th minute Rangers thought that they should’ve had a penalty kick after Edu appeared to be fouled in the Celtic 18-yard box by Andreas Hinkel but the referee waved away the shouts of the Rangers players. Six minutes later Robbie Keane thought he was fouled just inside Rangers’ half but the referee waved play on and Steven Davis picked up the ball and let fly from just outside Celtic’s box. After Boruc made the save Davis followed up along with a host of other players but the ball didn’t fall to a blue shirt in the box and Celtic were able to clear. It was in the 65th minute that the game’s pivotal moment occurred when Rangers’ Kyle Lafferty and Celtic captain Scott Brown were involved in a tangle after going for the ball. Brown appeared to lean in on Lafferty’s chest with his head and the Rangers player went down to the ground resulting in referee Dougie McDonald showing Brown the red card, much to the dismay of Celtic boss Tony Mowbray who has complained of the quality of refereeing already this season.
Following on from the red card Rangers began to dominate possession as Celtic were forced to put Robbie Keane up front on his own and try to see out the rest of the game to force a draw. Celtic’s loan signing from FC Bayern München Edson Braafheid wasted a great free-kick opportunity on 82 minutes but that was about the only chance they would have of threatening Rangers’ penalty area. Celtic infuriated Rangers one minute from regular time after Diomansy Kamara had been treated for a head injury and then kicked the ball into touch deep into Rangers half. Walter Smith and Ally McCoist were fuming on the sideline as they thought this was a blatant lack of sportsmanship from Kamara. However Rangers got their just reward in the 92nd minute of the game when Boruc dropped a corner in front of Kris Boyd whose attempts at forcing the ball home were stopped by the Celtic keeper before Edu managed to toe poke home from a couple of yards out sending the Rangers fans into raptures of ecstasy.