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Rangers 2-3 Celtic: Odsonne Edouard fires ten-men Bhoys to victory

Sunday 11th March 2018

Celtic's recent dominance in Old Firm derbies continued as they came out on top in a five-goal thriller at Ibrox Sunday lunchtime. Rangers led twice through goals from Josh Windass and Daniel Candeias. Celtic bounced back to level through Tom Rogic and Moussa Dembele. Rangers looked likely to push on for the win when Jozo Simunovic was sent off. Instead, Celtic held firm and Odsonne Edouard netted a superb winner. Here are six discussion points from the Bhoys' 3-2 victory. 

Dedryck Boyata has to go

Boyata had an absolute nightmare. He could have cost Celtic the game with his extremely poor defending. 

His ordeal began just minutes after kickoff. Windass caught him in possession, left the Belgian in his wake, and sped goalwards to give Rangers the lead with a fine finish into the goal roof. 

Boyata didn't cover himself in glory on Gers' second. He was outmuscled by Alfredo Morelos, allowing the ball to cross the goalmouth for Candeias to rifle home. 

In the second half, Boyata was caught out again. This time Morelos found himself through on the keeper only for Scott Bain to make a good stop. 

Boyata is a big unit. In games when teams are putting high balls into the box, he can be an asset. He just doesn't fit Celtic's possession style and should be shown the door at the first opportunity. 

Did Simunovic deserve red? 

Referees are never right. No matter what they do in games at least half the people are going to take exception. Scottish referees are far from the best. Willie Collum has got some important decisions wrong in big games. At times he's influenced results. He got this big decision absolutely spot on. 

At first glance, there didn't look to be much in the clash between Simunovic and Morelos, but the linesman flagged straight away. Collum wasted no time in reaching into the pocket holding the red card. 

Replays appear to show Simunovic sizing up his man as the ball is played towards them, then leading with his elbow into Morelos' head. There shouldn't be any argument. It was a clear red. For once at least Collum was correct. 

Brendan Rodgers' tactics

With the game tied at two and down a man, 99% of managers would close shop and hang on for a draw, especially away to your closest rivals. Rodgers has always shown no fear when making substitutions. 

The decision to bring on Edouard was a brave one not many would have made. At the time, Rangers were dominant. Dembele was completely isolated in attack. In making the change, Rodgers recognised Celtic needed an option when they regained possession, someone who could carry it forward and relieve pressure. Not only did the Frenchman do so perfectly, he turned one run into the game-winning goal. Rodgers deserves respect for displaying the guts to go for the win. 

Scott Brown a machine

Since Rodgers arrived to start last season, Brown has had a new lease on life. The captain is playing arguably the best football of his career. 

Similar to Steven Gerrard, Brown has transformed into a deep-lying midfielder. It has brought a new dimension to his game. He has a good range of passing but the 32-year-old's work in front of the defence is more impressive. 

When Celtic were reduced to 10 men, Brown played like a man possessed. Every Rangers incursion was tackled or intercepted by him. On his day he's a very good player and a match like this was made for him. Backs to the wall against your biggest rivals is Christmas morning for Brown. He rose to the occasion just when Celtic needed him most, the true essence of a captain. 

How did Morelos miss?

Once Celtic took the lead, Rangers were always going to throw everything at their rivals and they didn't disappoint. Celtic dealt with it well for the most part. Regardless, it's often the case in games like this that the team pressing for goal will get at least one chance. Rangers came across one of the easiest you'll ever see. 

Windass, who had a good game for Gers, sent a low shot goalwards. Bain got down to it but could only parry to Morelos. The Colombian had the goal at his mercy and only needed to send the ball towards the net. There was nothing any Celtic player could do. Somehow, maybe through lingering effects from Simunovic's elbow, he failed to get it on target. It rebounded off the post into a grateful Bain's arms. The 26-year-old couldn't believe his luck.  

It's the sort of miss that will give a player nightmares. Morelos will no doubt be haunted by it for a long time. Aside from the collision with Simunovic, the forward had been having a good game. He was a thorn in Celtic's side. When it came down to it, however, he wasted the opportunity which would have rescued a point for his team. 

What next for Rangers?

This was Rangers best performance against Celtic since they knocked their rivals out of the Scottish Cup on penalties back in 2016. Yet they still managed to lose to 10 men. It must come as a huge blow given they came into the game filled with confidence. 

This should have been the time they would finally get that league win over Celtic but it wasn't to be. As disappointing as it was there were positives for the Govan side. They enjoyed a few periods of possession where they looked at the very least equal to Celtic. They should take further confidence from that.

One thing Rangers desperately need is continuity. Ever since they were promoted in 2016, it seems they bring a new manager or squad to the Old Firm tilt. Teams take time to build. Relationships and partnerships on the field need to grow. 

Whether Rangers stick with Graeme Murty remains to be seen but from his tenure in charge they probably should. He has them consistently beating the other Scottish clubs. If Rangers can do that, they will provide a strong challenge to Celtic. At the moment, that is exactly what they should be aiming to do. 

Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.


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