Celts dominant in 2-0 win
League Cup Third Round Celtic Park, Glasgow Wednesday November 9 2005
CELTIC… 2 RANGERS… 0
(Maloney 25, Klos o.g. )
THE SCORELINE may not suggest it, but tonight Celtic handed out one of the most comprehensive Old Firm beatings in recent memory as Rangers capitulated before Gordon Strachan’s dominant and commanding side.
The result may have stood at 2-0 come the final whistle but the victory, which books Celtic’s place in the semi-finals of this season’s League Cup, will forever be recalled as one in which the home team simply measured and then mastered their oldest rivals from the first minute to the last.
And when supporters look back they will also remember Man of the Match, Shaun Maloney’s remarkable 35-yard strike which will rank alongside the true greats that have been scored in this fixture.
With Celtic having hit a consistent run of form in recent weeks while Rangers have continued to slide in the league, much conjecture surrounded the potential approach of either side to this game and there was a particularly physical start to the match.
A dangerous, if admittedly ball-winning, challenge by Oliver Bernard on Stan Petrov just 10 minutes in was ignored by referee Kenny Clarke and set the tone early on and Celtic had to work patiently to build up their momentum in the face of this.
A couple of half chances preceded a shot by Aiden McGeady from the edge of the box which tested Stefan Klos and Celtic looked to be making inroads through the gaping holes that a succession of recent draws have left in Rangers’ confidence.
Minutes after that the young Irish international hooked in a cross that flashed inches wide of the target and then in the 25th minute Celtic got their opener in the most unbelievably spectacular fashion.
When Shaun Maloney picked the ball up some 40 yards from goal he was outnumbered and with precious little support and when he dribbled forward and shaped to shoot it looked as though the 22 year-old striker had made the wrong decision.
But with the Rangers defenders backing off Maloney unleashed a powerful drive from 35 yards out which zipped and dipped with incredible pace beyond Klos, who could only watch it sail beyond him and into his net in complete disbelief.
The strike brought an already confident home crowd to their feet and with Celtic continuing to patiently play round Rangers, the visitors frustration began to show and in this entire first half they were limited to long-range efforts by Hamed Namouchi, Barry Ferguson and Fernando Ricksen.
Celtic continued to assert their authority in the second half and ten minutes in they were succeeding in stringing together some of the intricate, one touch passing moves that have so demoralised the likes of Motherwell, Dundee Utd and Falkirk in recent weeks.
Rangers responded, as they did in the first half, in belligerent fashion and Hutton and Jeffers were among those who saw yellow for late and cynical fouls before Sotirios Kyrgiakos saw a second yellow for sarcastically applauding a foul that had fairly been awarded against him.
This numerical superiority was the spur that gave Celtic a second wind and Mo Camara was, in particular, looking to take advantage with some lung-bursting runs on the left flank.
But this was a superb team performance overall, with Neil Lennon and Stilian Petrov among the other stand-outs and as the game entered the final ten minutes many were wondering how Celtic had failed to add to their tally.
One final goal was to follow in the 82cnd minute and while Maloney’s opener was one of the finest in recent Old Firm history, this was one of the scrappiest and perhaps most comedic.
There appeared to be little danger at first when Shunsuke Nakamura lifted a dipping cross into the back post, but with Bobo Balde and his marker, Jose Karl Pierre Fanfan bearing down on him the keeper flapped and the ball trickled beyond him for the second.
In the coming days much will be made of Rangers’ failings and Celtic’s numerical superiority in the second half, but make no mistake this result was comprehensive and the glory was all Celtic’s.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Shaun Maloney
CELTIC (4-4-2) Boruc; Telfer, Balde, McManus, Camara; Nakamura, Lennon, Petrov, McGeady (Thompson 76); Maloney, Hartson.
Subs: Marshall, Varga, Virgo, Pearson
RANGERS (4-4-2) Klos; Hutton, Kyrgiakos, Rodriguez (Fanfan 79), Bernard (Lovenkrands 46); Namouchi, Ferguson, Ricksen, Murray; Thompson (Jeffers 56), Prso.
Subs: Wattereus, Rae.
„Der Kampf gegen Gipfel vermag ein Menschenherz auszufüllen. Wir müssen uns Sisyphos als einen glücklichen Menschen vorstellen.“