Old Firm Comment

21 Mar

1. Rangers collect the first silverware of the season, and probably deserved the win.  This was more a war of attrition, rather than a football classic, but great entertainment as usual.

2. It’s almost as if Walter Smith thought: “What the hell, it’s only the League Cup.”  Caution was thrown very much to the wind, with a far more positive formation and attitude from his side, highlighted by the inclusion of young Gregg Wylde.  Had they sat back as they have in recent visits to Celtic Park, they may well have been on the end of another hammering.

3. Steven Davis and Steven Naismith were the main men for Rangers.  Busy, energetic, and in the faces of the opposition from kick-off.  Davis looked more like his usual self.  A mention also for David Weir – on the receiving end of all sorts of stick recently, but made some vital clearances.

4. Nikica Jelavic will receive much of the acclaim for his winning goal.  Another hard-working performance but he’s difficult to work out.  On one hand he gave Thomas Rogne a difficult afternoon, but his dive was poor, particularly when he could have been in on goal.  Still doesn’t look like and out-and-out scorer, and needs a prolific partner.

5. Celtic on the other hand, never really got going.  They didn’t take the initiative after the equaliser or during extra-time following Bougherra’s departure.  There were too many average performances on the one day and too many players overrunning the ball and failing to release it when they had the chance.

6. Georgios Samaras started the match like a man on a mission and looked set for another barnstorming Old Firm performance.  However, it was ultimately a frustrating afternoon for the Greek – poor first touch and no genuine chances.

7. Walter Smith’s decision to bring on Vladamir Weiss proved to be a masterstroke.  A player with a lot to prove after a poor season, his pace and direct running helped Rangers get the better of their old foes during extra-time.  He also played the pass for Jelavic’s winner.

8. Celtic seemed to miss Daniel Majstorovic more than Rangers missed Kyle Bartley.  The big Swede’s physical presence was needed and had he been on the pitch, Jelavic may well have seen less of the ball.  Thomas Rogne seemed to struggle without his usual defensive partner and at times, Charlie Mulgrew looked like more of a natural centre-back – Mulgrew however, went to ground too quickly at the winner.

9. A decent performance from Craig Thomson and his assistants, and credit to Thomson for being brave enough to reverse his initial penalty decision when Jelavic dived.  Rangers could have had a spot-kick when Wilson’s arm connected with the ball and there was the bizarre award of a free-kick in Bougherra’s favour after he barged Kris Commons.

10. Rangers will take heart from their performance and the result.  The destiny of the SPL title is still in their hands and they will look ahead to the remainder of the season with some confidence.  However, both sides know that one slip could cost them the title.  The last Old Firm encounter at Ibrox will be huge, but it’s unlikely to be decisive.

 

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