It was the first Old Firm game of the 2010/2011 season and what a game Rangers and Celtic set up for football fans all over the world. Both had 100% records (a new Old Firm record!!) going into this one.
Celtic dug out a result at Tannadice last week and proved they are in it to win it while Rangers went on to beat Motherwell 4-1 after being a goal down and showed everybody why they are Champions.
Lennon v Smith: this was only Lenny’s second Old Firm game in charge and he’s went into this with a 100% record while Smith, well it was his 50th, losing only 12. Lennon gave six players their Old Firm debut while Smith named a side which saw every player already having served their initiation into the Old Firm derby madness.
Rangers set their stall out 4-1-4-1 with the only changes from the mid week Champions League game being McCulloch and Lafferty. Lennon named the same side which ground out the three points at Tannidice and played a 4-4-2 formation.
With one minute gone, Stokes received a booking for a tackle on Papac. Davis took the free kick and Forester quickly punched it to safety. A few minutes later, Rangers released Whittaker, whose shot smashed off the post and Naismith’s rebound just missed too. Rangers picked up a yellow card, McCulloch for a stretch tackle on Majstorovic.
Rangers pressed again as Celtic were forced to sit deep. Edu picked up the ball and made a sweet pass to Davis who had a go at goal but it was an easy save for the Celtic keeper in the end. Celtic are forced to make an early change with Maloney taking a knock to the eye in a 50/50 with Naismith.
The Bhoys in green were all over Naismith as he was brought down- unfortunately Celtic picked up the stray ball from Davis free kick and worked the ball up the park from side to side until Hooper had a penalty shout. Referee Willie Collum, making his own Old Firm debut, waved play on and Rangers skipper Weir knocks the ball out for a Celtic corner.
After half an hour gone and Celtic started to get into the game. A nice one-two with Naismith saw Bougherra try to chip the keeper but the ball went over.
On the 40th minute mark and Celtic piled on the pressure as they forced Rangers to keep ten men behind the ball after a flurry of corners. Ki floated one in, which came off Whittaker and bounced in front of Hooper who was able to convert it from close range to make it 1-0 to Celtic.
Rangers have come back from a goal down to win the last three SPL games and the Champions do the same again?
The second half began with Rangers pressing as Lafferty was brought down. Davis floated in a marvellous free kick, Lafferty took a slight touch to make the ball change direction, bounce off Lovens and into his own net as goalkeeper Forster could only watch.
At 1-1 the stadium was electric, and both sets of fans were on their feet. The players attempted to stay calm in the caldron but the pressure was too intense for Ki who fouled Naismith and was booked. Bougherra took the free kick but Edu was flagged offside. Minutes later Naismith put a nice touch over to Miller who smacked the ball straight into the Celtic goal to make it 2-1 Rangers as the away end erupted.
Celtic needed to regain possession, however it was Rangers who this time had the rub of the green after Broadfoot was brought down by Majstorovic in what appeared to be a soft penalty award. Miller stepped up and drilled it home for his double and it was 3-1 to Rangers at fortress Celtic Park.
As the last few minutes of the opening derby passed it remained 3-1 and nine in a row for Rangers!
Walter Smith can be happy with the boys’ performance as the team played with great confidence. Even after going one nil down they remained calm, kept their cool and in doing so went clear at the top of the league.