Sunday, 31 August 2008

Celtic 2 - 4 Rangers, 31 August 2008

A tremendous Old Firm derby, won in convincing fashion by Rangers. Rangers scored three fine goals, with Pedro Mendes scoring the pick of the bunch with a superbly struck long range goal from a corner. Celtic initially equalised Rangers' opener, but Rangers then went on to score three to put the game beyond Celtic, and Celtic scored one through Nakamura right at the death after a poorly defended free kick.

It was a typical blood and thunder affair, drawing the usual cliches from the commentators about heavy tackles, passion and all the things you expect from an Old Firm clash, but the referee done his job well, setting his stall out and giving a few yellows for rash challenges early on, and applying consistency throughout, and correct sent of Cousin and Vennegor of Hesselink near the end, Cousin for his second yellow and Vennegor of Hesselink for reacting to a challenge.

It was an interesting study in crowd behaviour, and entirely predictable in many ways - lots of close-ups of both sets of fans either gesticulating or swearing in the direction of their opponents, then the director cutting away quickly when they realise what's happening, the volleys of "you're not singing anymore" bouncing back between fans as Rangers scored, Celtic equalised, and Rangers took the lead again, grown men nearly exploding in rage as the referee dares to correctly give a decision against their team, and then the stadium almost exiting en mass after the fourth Rangers goal as, pride hurt, they leave early to either beat the traffic, or more likely, avoid the victorious Rangers fans after the match.

Kenny Miller got his first two goals of his second Rangers spell on his return to Celtic Park. Perhaps predictably, more likely coincidence, not that it stopped the commentators banging on about it. It's one of those football cliches that only becomes true after it actually happens, and is never mentioned if it doesn't.

Much to celebrate for Rangers. Long term, it won't ease the pain of their failure to qualify for the Champions League, especially finacially, but it will give them the upper hand and momentum in this season's SPL title race.

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