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Rangers 1-0 Celtic: Maurice Edu Tilts The Title Race Towards Ibrox

Rangers 1-0 Celtic: Line-up & stats

Rangers Maurice Edu came off the bench to put what could be a final nail into Celtic’s Scottish Premier League title hopes, as the American stabbed home late into injury time to put his side one step though the door towards the title.

The first half started, as usual with Glasgow derbies, at 100mph with both old firm new boy Robbie Keane and Rangers talismanic striker Kris Boyd coming close within the first two minutes of the game.

After that the game continued at a frantic pace with both sides looking to attack each other’s defence as quick as possible. That ultimately created problem for under pressure referee Dougie McDonald who issued to yellow cards within the first ten minutes, to both Marc Antoine Fortune and Madjid Bougherra, the latter who was lucky not to see a second card, just minutes later for a cynical challenge.

Next proper chance for Celtic came on the quarter hour mark, when a challenge from Sasa Papac on the edge of the area allowed Keane to set up a free kick on the edge of the Rangers area, but the on-loan Tottenham man could do nothing but sail it high into the Copland Road stand of Ibrox.

The game from then on seemed to break up in the midfield area with both sides unable to find the final ball to unlock the other side’s defence. Halfway through the first half, Rangers caused themselves trouble when Kevin Thomson accidentally kicked team-mate Lee McCulloch on the Achilles. The midfielder, recently called back into Craig Levein’s Scotland squad was forced from the field and ultimately replaced by Maurice Edu.

The American must have felt in heaven when he found the net with his first touch. But that elation was to be denied when referee McDonald blew for a free kick for a hand ball committed by Kenny Miller seconds before.
Miller was the next to go close, when a through ball from Boyd unleashed the former Celtic  man, who worked Artur Boruc, but the Polish keeper was able to recover and keep the scores level.

Celtic were the next to receive some bad luck, when teenage defender Thomas Rogne went down injured after stretching for the ball and had to be replaced at the heart of the Celtic defence by Darren O’Dea.

Rangers continued to put pressure on the visitor’s defence, but they could not put Boruc under any real pressure. That allowed Celtic to break and with ten minutes left in the first it was Keane, who was to make Rangers keeper Allan McGregor work for the first time since the opening minutes, when the Irishman’s powerful strike from the edge of the area was palmed away by the home keeper.

Celtic finally looked to get a proper passing move in the closing minutes, when a tactical switch by Tony Mowbray, allowing Aiden McGeady and Diomansy Kamara to switch wings resulted in Fortune having a clear sight of McGregor’s goal, but the striker was left in anguish as he watched his strike go wide of the home side’s goal.

Deep into injury time Celtic were put under extreme pressure when a ball through the middle of the Celtic defence by Papac was deflected by Boyd, but the striker was left to rue his luck as both Boruc and the assistant referee cost the Rangers star from opening the scoring when his effort was saved and he was called offside.

The second half started just as the first had, with both sides looking to attack each other. With Steven Davis coming close after a sweeping cross ball from Kyle Lafferty, whose ball found his fellow Ulsterman who won a corner as a result.
The home side had the next set of chances, when both Boyd and Lafferty forced the Celtic defenders into last gasp clearances within seconds of each other to relieve the pressure upon the visitors defence.

Davis was unlucky not to open the scoring for Rangers when he had two shots within seconds of each other, one from the edge of the area and one from just outside the six yard line, both of which were expertly seen away by Boruc, who seemed to be the only way in which Celtic would be able to keep their old firm rivals at bay.

Celtic then went on a break, in which they had four against one and that one was Bougherra, who was sitting on a tightrope having received a yellow card. But the Algerian expertly took the ball away from Fortune, relieving the pressure on McGregor’s goal and taking away one of Celtic’s best opportunities of the game.

This led to Mowbray deciding to change the shape of his side, taking off the explosive McGeady and bringing on Giorgos Samaras to add more height to his side, as he looked to find the goal that his side needed.

The fireworks then started at Ibrox when Celtic captain Scott Brown was shown a straight red card for putting his head into Lafferty’s  chest, leaving Mowbray having to reshape his side once again. Having to bring on Sung Yueng Ki for Fortune, instead of Keane, who had been nursing an injury all week and had not been involved in the second half.

The game became scrappy after the sending off, with both sides unable to create a final ball to opening the scoring. But Mowbray’s side couldn’t seem to find the goal that would put them straight back into the title race as they were forced back by the constant pressure that came from the Ibrox side.

That pressure nearly came off, when Davis once again had sight of Boruc’s goal on the right hand side of the area, but the midfielder could only find the save hand of the Pole in the visitors goal.

With less than ten minutes left, Rangers played one of their best moves of the game, which ended up with Edu putting over the ball after a superb cross from Papac from the American six yards out. But unfortunately the midfielder saw his strike go over the bar.

Walter Smith’s side maintained their stranglehold upon the game, with a series of corners, forcing Celtic further back.  The home side could not take advantage of their numerical advantage, as they found the Celtic backline of both O’Dea and Josh Thompson in superb form, as they looked to protect the Boruc in the visitor’s goal.

The game was nearly finished off by the home side, when Sasa Papac went close and ultimately got a corner. That corner then lead to a last gasp goal, when both Bougherra and Boyd went close and Edu finally stabbed home to possibly seal another title for the home side.