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The Rangers rampage as a smashed bottle and a broken title chase define Old Firm’s turnaround

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Celtic are six points clear with six games left in the Scottish Premiership title race but yesterday’s Old Firm derby will be remembered for the wrong reasons after Rangers fans left broken glass on the pitch at Ibrox Stadium and a staff member in the away team’s backroom have hit a bottle.

he start of the second half was delayed while stewards cleared coins and shards of a broken bottle from the Celtic box, much to the chagrin of Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

“That’s not what you want,” the Rangers manager said. “You go out of the dressing room and prepare well for the second half. You want to leave, then you have to wait a few minutes. Safety first and I understand that we have to wait until the field is playable for both teams.”

A plastic bottle landed near Jota when the Hoops winger took a corner kick and a member of the Celtic backroom staff was also hit by an object full-time.

Chris Sutton, the former Celtic striker-turned-pundit was far more bitter as he tweeted: “Absolute scumbags throwing glass bottles on the pitch. How deep can some people go. This is how this game will be remembered now.”

Police Scotland said “investigations are ongoing to establish the full circumstances”.

A Celtic spokesman said: “We can confirm that a staff member from our back room was hit by a glass bottle. He needed urgent medical attention and stitches for a head wound. The matter is now in the hands of Police Scotland.”

There is yet another old firm derby at Celtic Park but as the recent clash between these rivals shows this opportunity will simply propel Ange Postecoglou and his players to an emphatic triumph in a title race that overwhelmed them at the start of the season, as they embarked on a major squad rebuild under a coach virtually unknown in the Scottish Premiership.

With the added benefit of goal difference after their second win of the season against Rangers, they are big favorites to regain the title.

For Rangers fans, last season’s unchecked league success under Steven Gerrard is a distant memory. This was to be the sort of platform Aaron Ramsey would display his talent on, but although the Wales international completed an eye-catching move to open the scoring just five minutes into the game, Rangers’ lead did not extend to the 1-0 quarter-hour mark.

Sloppy defending allowed Tom Rogic to equalize before the quarter-hour and more of that allowed Cameron Carter-Vickers to score, which proved the winner as the break loomed.

Not only did Celtic extend Rangers’ early lead, they absorbed everything the defending champions could throw at them through crosses, cuts, flicks and the occasional shot.

Ramsey’s race was contested midway through the second half when he was replaced by Scott Arfield in a double substitution that also saw Ryan Jack making way for Fashion Sakala, not that either change made any difference to what increasingly looked like a predetermined result.

“Well, I’ve made my decision, that’s it,” said Van Bronckhorst. “Of course it’s easy to talk about subs and why it didn’t happen. They bring fresh legs. We put Sakala on the wing to bring more body forward and play with a lot of pressure up front.

“We created a few chances to score, not really big ones but enough to equalize. When you lose, the subs are always bad. When you win, it’s always good. I’ve had both moments so far this season. If things don’t go well, it’s always the fault of the coach. I have hard skin.”

Van Bronckhorst’s uneasiness was compounded by the fact that his players had made the best move of the game when Calvin Bassey sent Ryan Kent well behind Josip Juranovic to deliver a cross from halfway up Ramsey to see him past Joe Hart for the first time met.

Kent was Rangers’ most productive player throughout the process, but his efforts were sabotaged by the kind of carelessness that dogged the Ibrox team, turning a six-point lead in the table at New Year’s into an equal margin deficit.

Celtic’s equalizer, for example, came on the third try of a sequence started by Rogic with a blocked shot, rebounding to Reo Hatate, whose attempt was parried by Allan McGregor.

However, the keeper failed to direct the ball clearly and it fell back to the unmarked Rogic, who had an easy task of finding the net. History repeated itself as Celtic scored the winning goal in the 42nd minute. A Jota cross was met by a header from Leon Balogun, which fell for Carter-Vickers – who should have been supervised by John Lundstram – to thrust home from close range.

The Rangers support – those who didn’t throw objects on the field – spent the rest of the game in vocal frustration as the minutes drew to an inevitable conclusion.

A vocal dissident summed up his despair by yelling at the directors’ box, “That’s last year’s team, for heaven’s sake!”

Last year’s side were delighted with the support that prevented Celtic from winning their coveted 10th consecutive title. This time around, Rangers’ inability to thwart their nemesis means Celtic are virtually guaranteed a Champions League spot and £40m (€47.5m) in revenue, only widening the gap between these supposedly comparable rivals will.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/other-soccer/rangers-rage-as-smashed-bottle-and-broken-title-hunt-define-old-firm-turnaround-41517250.html The Rangers rampage as a smashed bottle and a broken title chase define Old Firm’s turnaround

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