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Celtic 3-2 Rangers as it happened

FULL-TIME:
Celtic 3-2 Rangers
Match report


GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times BST)

606: DEBATE

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By David Sharp

1440: That's it, I'm out of here. What a match. It seemed to hurtle past in a wild blur of non-stop action. Time for a lie down methinks. Thanks for all your wacky chat. Catch y'all again soon.

1433: BBC Radio Scotland football expert Murdo MacLeod has given two-goal Celtic hero Scott McDonald Man of the Match. You chaps seem to agree with Murdo. The little striker is sitting pretty with a score of 8.29 on our Player Rater. But that was on 90 minutes. You can still change that, although you probably shouldn't since I reckon Skippy was definitely THE outstanding player on the pitch today. If you're going to do anything then give the man more votes below:

1428: "I can't remember Artur Boruc making a single save in the second half. Nacho Novo had one shot. That was it. Celtic were the better side."
BBC Radio Scotland pundit Craig Paterson

1427: "Maybe, or maybe better to have your destiny in your own hands rather than relying on others to do you a favour." peepshow
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I guess so. It's a tricky one that. It's certainly nice for Celtic to have points in the pokey and a five-point cushion but Rangers can still go four clear if they win their three games in hand. I reckon both teams will still drop some points elsewhere in the run-in...it could go all the way again to a nerve-shredding last day finale...but one thing's for sure - Gordon Strachan's men have deservedly wrested back control of the title race with two fantastic Old Firm triumphs in the space of 11 days...

1426: Celtic have done it. Their back-to-back Old Firm victories have blown the SPL title race wide open. Gordon Strachan's revitalised side go five points clear at the top of the SPL. Rangers may have three games in hand over their old rivals but you'd rather have the points in the bag, eh? Particularly with Rangers fixture congestion head...

1424: FULL-TIME Celtic 3-2 Rangers

1424: Steven Whittaker is red-carded for scything Nakamura. It was a clumsy, mistimed challenge and the ref brandishes a second yellow and then a red card at the Rangers midfielder. Grand folly from Whittaker. He trudges off disconsolately and the ref blows for full-time. Tops off a miserable second half for Rangers.

1422: In stoppage time now. Three minutes for Rangers to salvage a point. It doesn't look at all likely. Celtic look very comfortable. This will be Rangers 11th defeat in their last 14 visits to Celtic Park. Not a good record. Parkhead has been an impressive fortress over the years.

1421: Robson's cross appears to strike Dailly's trailing hand. That looked like a penalty. Not given.

1420: Rangers resort to punting desperate long-balls high at the Celtic defence.

1418: Is there a final twist in this gripping tale?

1416: Celtic are beginning to run the clock down. Three minutes of normal time to go. Cousin is felled and Rangers have a free-kick. Celtic clear Davis' curled set-piece with ease and burst forward on the counter attack.

1414: Rangers edge forward into Celtic territory. The home side are camped deep in their own half.

1413 Scott Brown replaces the flagging Hartley.

1412: Darcheville has come on for the anonymous Brahim Hemdani. Rangers are, indeed, going for it.

1408: Davis surges down the middle of the pitch, leaving Celtic players trailing in his wake but he runs out of options when he reaches the box and a sea of defenders swarm all over him, with Paul Hartley poking the ball away.

1407: Jean-Claude Darcheville is poised to come on for Rangers. They need to go for it.

1404: Deep, searching cross into the box from Nakamura. Rangers welly it clear. It's not looking good for the Ibrox men. Barry Robson takes another corner and it cracks off the post. Alexander was caught by surprise by the vicious bend on the ball. But Rangers are off the hook...for now. Celtic continue to press.

1402: Twenty minutes to go and the Celtic fans are bouncing with joy.

1400: GOAL Barry Robson steps up and drills the ball down the middle. This topsy-turvy game takes another twist and Celtic are back in front.

1359: PENALTY to Celtic. Broadfoot clambers all over McDonald as he homes in on goal. Definite penalty. Broadfoot should have been sent off. Terrible decision from the ref.

1358: Novo's shot whistles inches past the post. That was close. Great play from Cousin to tee him up.

1357: Greek striker Georgios Samaras is stripped and ready to throw himself into the fray. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink jogs off.

1355: Stephen McManus has a calf injury. Darren O'Dea is set to replace the Celtic skipper. A straight swap.

1352: Corner for Celtic. The pressure is on Rangers' makeshift central defence but the strangely off-form Nakamura squanders it. The Japanese maestro had his best ever Old Firm game 11 days ago, scoring a wild and wonderful goal. But he certainly hasn't had his finest hour so far today.

1348: Vennegoor of Hesselink piles into Faye. Terrible challenge. No attempt to go for the ball. He's lucky to escape a straight red card for that act of thuggery.

1344: Scrappy, disjointed start to the second half. Rangers look like they are toiling a little. They don't have the same spring in their step. By stark contrast Celtic look fresh as a daisy and are beginning to dominate proceedings.

1341: Rangers lose David Weir to injury. He hobbles off. Amdy Faye replaces him. Big blow for Rangers. Carlos Cuellar was already missing through supension and now the depleted Ibrox men will have to do without his ultra-reliable defensive partner.

1339: And McDonald is clean through but Vennegoor of Hesselink is asleep when the Aussie tries to set him up from six yards and Broadfoot hoofs the ball clear. Great chance for Celtic, squandered by the plodding Dutchman.

1337: Stevie Chalmers was the last Celtic player to score a hat-trick in an Old Firm league game. That was way back in 1966. Harry Hood scored a hat-trick in the Old Firm League Cup semi-final in December 1973, making him the last Celtic player to score a hat-trick against Rangers in any competition. The last player to score a hat-trick in any Old Firm game was Ally McCoist in the 1983-84 League Cup Final. McDonald needs one more goal to join them in the history books. Just in case you were wondering...

1336: Here we go again. Referee Craig Thomson peeps his whistle and another 45 minutes of harem-scarem football begins.

1335: Celtic emerge from the tunnel for the second-half. Rangers stroll out after them.

1334: "Great match, but the standard of the officials leaves a lot to be desired. McDonald's first was offside and Rangers should have had a penalty for Caldwell's handball. Other than that both teams are giving it a go. Steve Davis has had a cracker from my own point of view." chrislovesbuffy
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I concur with most of the above.

1328: "This game has more goals in it. The onus is on Celtic to go forward - they need to win today - but Walter Smith won't want his side to sit too deep - which means more chances and more goals."
BBC Radio Scotland pundit Craig Paterson

I feel ya Craig (to paraphrase Omar from 'The Wire')!

1325: "Stuck at work missing this match. I've an interview tomorrow and if I get it, I won't have to work any more weekends. If I ever needed any more justification for resigning than I do now, the past 45 minutes has given me it. If Skippy gets a hat-trick, I'm never ever working on a Old Firm matchday again. Ever." timomouse
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Good luck with your interview! "Skippy" McDonald has certainly proved his worth again for Celtic. He's nabbed 29 goals now in his first season at Parkhead. Not bad, eh?

1320: "It's only half time and this is shaping up to be one of the best games I've seen the season. I can only hope that the goals continue to come but obviously I'd prefer it if they came for Rangers. Excellent game though." G_Ranger
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1318: HALF-TIME Phew! That was rubbish, eh?! Quite the opposite! Four goals. Phenomenal opening 45. Frenzied to say the least. A Jekyll-and-Hyde performance from both sides though. Celtic opened the scoring against the run of play and then Rangers went on to dominate for the next half hour but Celtic have stormed back into contention.

1317: In stoppage time now. Celtic rampage forward again.

1314: GOAL Celtic 2-2 RangersScott McDonald again. He birls in the Rangers box and hits a great shot that deflects off the sole of Dailly's boot and spins over the top of a helpless Alexander. Rangers pay for slack play. They've switched off in the last 10 minutes and Celtic have awoke from their trance-like reverie in spectacular fashion.

1313: "Steven Davis... used to be my favourite player when he was at Villa. I cried when we sold him! Happy to see him at the club he supported as a boy though. Hopefully Rangers sign him permanently so he can play in the Champions League... something he definitely deserves to do." zainlin
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1310: Seven minutes til half-time and Celtic are on the ascendancy. McGeady has seen more of the ball recently and the talented winger is trying to conjure up some magic to haul his side back into this game. His efforts come to nowt. But Celtic have woken up and have Rangers on the back foot.

1308: Celtic break at pace with McGeady jinking past Broadfoot. Dailly gets a crucial toe to the winger's cross with McDonald poised to pull the trigger. Superb defending from the veteran Rangers defender.

1306: Steve Davis is pulling the strings in the Rangers engine room. The Northern Irishman, in cahoots with Barry Ferguson, has snuffed out the influence of Robson and Hartley thus far.

1302: Stunning stuff from Rangers. Walter Smith's men were expected to sit deep and soak up Celtic's early onslaughts but it's not panned out like that at all. They've gone for the jugular and are in complete control of the midfield. Dreadful defending from a stupefied Celtic back four but terrific header from the Gabon international. Like Weir, it's his first Old Firm goal for the Light Blues.

1300: GOAL Celtic 1-2 RangersDaniel Cousin. An exact copy of Weir's goal. Davis sends in a corner from the right and Cousin steps off his marker to direct an unstoppable header off the underside of the bar past Boruc.

1257: Novo skins Lee Naylor and races clear down the right but his low cross into the danger area is scrambled clear.

1254: Nakamura shapes to whip in a free-kick from the right. His delivery dips wickedly towards Alexander and the goalie does well to punch it away.

1250: Weir looks like a heavyweight boxer after a 15-round pummelling. The Rangers defender has a badly swollen cheekbone. He was clattered by Gary Caldwell as he rose to nod his team level. Typically brave play from Rangers' elder statesman.

1248: GOAL Celtic 1-1 Rangers. David Weir meets Steve Davis' floated corner and bullets a header beyond the flailing paw of Boruc into the net. Weir managed to stick that in despite facing the wrong way. A unconventional finish with the back of his head.

1247: Frantic start, as usual. Strange scoreline thus far considering the visitors have had the lion's share of the play.

1245: Butter fingers from Neil Alexander in the Rangers goal as he fumbles McGeady's harmless cross out for a corner. Is Allan McGregor's stand-in feeling the heat? Robson wastes the opportunity.

1243: Papac this time curls a teasing free-kick into the Celtic box: Dailly outjumps the home defence and his glancing header grazes Boruc's left-hand post. Rangers were a whisker away from drawing level there.

1242: Cousin rifles in a low free-kick from the edge of the Celtic box but McDonald blocks it. I think the the little man broke ranks from the wall a tad early there.

1239: Rangers made a whirlwind start, full of beans but Celtic broke up the pitch and scored with their first chance. Route one football there, but very effective. Clinical finish from the offside McDonald. Dodgy decision by the ref. Celtic won't be too concerned about that.

1236: "How far away does McDonald have to be to get called offside, useless linesman, pathetic." Skutar
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1235: GOAL Celtic 1-0 RangersScott McDonald scores his 28th goal of the season. Hinkel drifts a long ball forward in the direction of Vennegoor of Hesselink. The big Dutchman nods it into the path of McDonald who scurries through and tucks the ball past Alexander. The little Aussie looked a yard offside but the goal stands. Celtic have the lead against the run of play.

1233: Electric start from Rangers. Boruc leaps to punch the ball clear as Rangers go at Celtic from the off.

1232: And we're off! Novo and Cousin get the game underway.

1230: The teams are on the pitch at Celtic Park. We're seconds away from the big kick-off. The Celtic players bounce out of their traditional pre-match huddle like a basketball team.

1226: Fire alarm at BBC Scotland! As if things aren't tense enough the flippin alarm goes off here and we all have to troop outside...got back to my pew a seccie ago. Just in case you wondered why it had all gone quiet...

1206: "I am hoping for a blood and guts Old Firm derby. There hasn't been one of them for a few years. But the stakes are high now." requiem7 .
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Dunno about the first part! Perhaps we should hope for a hard yet fair contest. May the best man win and all that...

1203: Gordon Strachan: "You can talk about styles and I've heard all sorts of pompous nonsense about this. We try our best to play well but, trust me, everyone is only worried about winning. The important thing is to win the game, then we'll look at the permutations after that.

I don't know if (a Celtic victory) will make any difference to them. They've done very well this year and should be complimented on that. We're not talking about putting pressure on them. We're just looking at winning ourselves. A win would keep the league going for another week or so, and that is all we can do."

1202: Walter Smith: "Celtic definitely had an edge the last time out, especially in the first half. It was a more even second period, but they went on to win it and show a lot of desire. We know that it will be the same again from them and we have to prepared for that."

1201: FULL TEAM LINE-UPS
Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor, Nakamura, Robson, Hartley, McGeady, McDonald, Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Rangers: Alexander, Broadfoot, Dailly, Weir, Papac, Hemdani, Novo, Davis, Ferguson, Whittaker, Cousin.

1200: TEAM NEWS
Celtic make no changes from the side that beat Rangers 11 days ago. It means Paul Hartley partners Barry Robson in the centre of midfield with no place for Scott Brown available again after serving a three-game ban.

Rangers start with Christian Dailly stepping in for the suspended Carlos Cuellar. Daniel Cousin gets the nod ahead of Jean-Claude Darcheville, flying solo on his own in attack. Nacho Novo gets a rare start wide on the right side of midfield.

1200 BST: Did I say 'this is it, the big one' 11 days ago? Well, it wasn't. I was exaggerating, for effect you understand. To grab your attention. But no need for false hyperbole now - THIS really IS the big one.

Come 2.20pm, when the dust has settled at Celtic Park on the 287th league meeting of these bitter foes, all will become a little clearer regarding the destination of this season's SPL title...

Until then strap yourselves in, hold on to your bunnets and settle back for what promises to be a wildly entertaining afternoon of thrills, spills...and, hopefully, some belly-laughs too...



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Clydesdale Bank Premier League Table
30 January 2010 17:38
    P GD PTS
1 Rangers 23 40 54
2 Celtic 22 21 44

3 Hibernian 22 16 42
4 Dundee Utd 23 4 39

5 Motherwell 22 0 30
6 Hearts 23 -5 28
7 Aberdeen 21 -5 27
8 St Johnstone 20 -8 23
9 St Mirren 22 -11 20
10 Hamilton 21 -18 17
11 Kilmarnock 22 -15 16

12 Falkirk 21 -19 14


see also
Celtic 3-2 Rangers
27 Apr 08 |  Scottish Premier
Old Firm photo gallery
27 Apr 08 |  Scotland
BBC pundits on the Old Firm
27 Apr 08 |  Scottish Premier
SPL title race on a knife edge
27 Apr 08 |  Scottish Premier
Strachan praises Celtic recovery
27 Apr 08 |  Celtic
Smith rues sloppy Gers defending
27 Apr 08 |  Rangers


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