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Match Report: Rangers 3-2 Celtic

Monday 26th March 2012
When Ibrox erupted as the players ran out in their respective green and blue you knew that this Old Firm Derby was one of great importance. Rangers were playing for pride and Celtic were playing for the chance to secure the title at the home of their bitter rivals. But you could see the determination in the eyes of the Rangers players to prevent such a thing happening.

The financially stricken side started the stronger, with Sone Aluko having an early shot blocked as Rangers looked to intimidate Celtic and bulldozer the midfield. They were soon rewarded with the opening goal. Aluko nutmegged Thomas Rogne and darted between Cha Du-Ri and Charlie Mulgrew to slot past the helpless Fraser Forster. A bit of individual skill may have opened the scoring for Rangers, but make no mistake about it this was a huge team performance.

However Celtic seeked a way back through Georgios Samaras, who attempted to rival Aluko's run but saw his shot parried by Allan McGregor, while Anthony Stokes could only hit the rebound over the bar.

Until the 28th minute it was a relatively calm game for the referee Calum Murray to officiate. But inevitably controversy struck when Cha Du-Ri saw red for bundling Lee Wallace down 19 yards from goal. Even Ally McCoist said it was soft.

A minute later Neil Lennon raged at a decision when Steven Whittaker felled Samaras but a free-kick was not forthcoming. At the break Lennon was sent to the stands but due to safety reasons he was advised not to be there so the Celtic manager watched on from the changing room as his side were reduced to nine men. Victor Wanyama was shown a straight red card for a dangerous challenge on Whittaker, who didn't put in the greatest challenge either, in the 57th minute.

Lennon could complain about the red cards but he couldn't complain about the result as Rangers were the better side and used their numerical advantage to kill off a lacklustre Celtic side, who were sloppy in possession and almost afraid of the fight.

In the 72nd minute the Hoops succumbed to the hosts' pressure. Andrew Little fired in his first ever Old Firm goal 30 seconds after coming off the bench to double Rangers lead. Five minutes later Wallace added a third when Mulgrew was robbed of possession and Steven Davis fed in the full-back on the left to fire past Forster.

Now you were thinking that this could be 5 or 6, but yet again we were proved wrong in this fierce fixture. Celtic's late rally was almost as stunning as Whittaker not picking up a yellow card for persistent fouling.

Bocanegra was beaten in the air by Samaras, the best of a poor bunch for Celtic, and the Greek striker surged into the penalty area where he was upended by the American. This prompted another wave of red by Murray and Scott Brown stepped up to score from the spot. Rogne then bulleted in a stoppage time header but the comeback was far too late to deny Rangers their deserved victory.

This was a huge win for Rangers. It denied Celtic the opportunity to win the league on their rivals' patch and provided Gers fans a rare moment of joy this season. It also provided a morale boost for players who only weeks ago thought that their playing days at Govan were over. For Celtic it's a week to forget, but for Rangers maybe even the darkest of clouds will still have a silver lining.
Calum McClurkin

Total articles: 15

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