Celtic v Rangers – Scottish Cup 5th Round Replay

Graham Baird reports…

Celtic are through to the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup after a 1-0 victory in a bad tempered Old Firm clash at Celtic Park.

In an exhilarating clash between the sides, the game produced 1 goal, 38 fouls, 13 bookings as well as 3 red cards.

Celtic went into the clash on the end of a 2-0 defeat from Motherwell, their first defeat in 17 games. However, with the most recent Old Firm victory still fresh in their minds, Celtic must have been in confident mood before the game against their rivals.

Rangers were dealt a bitter blow before kick off, with striker Nikica Jelavic ruled out of the clash with a knee injury. With a threadbare team and a vastly inexperienced bench even the most pessimistic Rangers fans must have been wondering where the goals would come from.

Walter Smith set his team up in the recognised formation used for European performances, a 5-4-1, in a move designed to stifle Celtic strike force Gary Hooper and Georgios Samaras.

Neil Lennon deployed the 4-4-2 system, with the manager making three changes to the side which lost at Fir Park.

The game got off to an exhilarating start, with both teams eager to stamp their authority on the game. While Celtic were keen to produce the attacking style of football which contributed to their recent 3-0 victory over Rangers, the visitors were eager to keep their performance disciplined, trying to play on the counter attack.

Celtic started the game the brighter side, retaining possession well and looking comfortable on the ball.

The first chance of the game fell to Mark Wilson who tried an audacious volleyed effort, only to see his effort more suited to that of a rugby field.

The stats don’t lie and after only ten minutes Celtic had retained 78% of the possession, with the visitors struggling to get a touch of the ball.

Rangers then had a half chance through Diouf when stand in goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska came thundering off his line unnecessarily to try and shut the advancing striker down. As Diouf stepped away from the keeper his cross was cleared to safety by Celtic centre half Daniel Majstorovic.

Rangers were trying to get themselves into the game but creativity was limited and it looked as though it would be a long night for lone frontman, El-Hadji Diouf.

The initial phase of the game was in contrast to the teams’ last clash, with the visitors putting up a resolute challenge in the midfield, where many argue the last Old Firm clash was won for Celtic.

Ki Sung-Yeung was next to try his luck for the home side, attempting a bold effort from all of thirty yards, however he failed to trouble keeper, Allan McGregor.

It appeared referee Calum Murray was keen to keep the cards in his pocket, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when Rangers’ Steven Whittaker was booked after being judged to have impeded the oncoming Ki Sung-Yeung in the middle of the park.

There were clear warning signs that tempers were threatening to get out of hand shortly after when Celtic’s Kris Commons clashed with El-Hadji Diouf after a foul on the Senegalese striker, with both players exchanging words afterward.

Just as the game looked to be settling into a steady pace, things kicked off in the 35th minute after Steven Whittaker needlessly lunged at Celtic left-back Izaguirre in the middle of the park. Leaving referee Murray with little choice but to send him off, Whittaker was dismissed, but this was only the start of the mayhem which ensued.

As Whittaker made his way down the tunnel, Rangers striker Diouf got caught up in a confrontation with Celtic manager Neil Lennon on the touchline. As both parties made their feelings clear, management and players from both sides moved in to try and diffuse the situation. As a result, Diouf was booked, with Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist both receiving a talking to from the match official.

Old Firm mayhem

After the melee, the game got back underway and almost immediately Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu nearly gifted Celtic the chance of the lead. A short back pass back to McGregor was snatched upon by Samaras, with the Rangers goalkeeper doing well to save the effort from the Greek striker.

Samaras’ effort was the first strike on goal from either side, with neither side creating much in final third of the park.

Just before half time midfielder John Fleck was lucky not to see red for his lunge on Celtic midfielder, Beram Kayal. Had the Israeli not gotten his feet off the ground before the tackle, Fleck might have seen red instead of yellow.

As the whistle was blown for half time there was another confrontation in the technical area, which again involved El-Hadji Diouf. As the striker departed down the tunnel, he clashed with Celtic Assistant manager Johan Mjällby, before being ushered away by players and officials. Both management teams continued to argue with each other as the sides departed for half time.

If the first half was anything to go by, the second promised to produce another action packed 45 minutes.

As Rangers returned for the second half with the odds were highly stacked against them, things took a turn for the worst in the 48th minute.

After a thundering run down the left wing from Izaguirre his cross found its way to full back Mark Wilson who had powered forward. After seeing his initial effort cleared miraculously off the line by Sasa Papac, the full back then kicked his next effort into the ground, only for the ball to bounce up into the net past a hapless Rangers defence.

As the home side celebrated the opener, Papac was stretchered from the field having being almost knocked out cold by Wilson’s first drive at goal. As if the task wasn’t difficult enough for Walter Smith’s side, his hand was forced, introducing youngster Greg Wylde to the action.

After opening the scoring Celtic began to grow in confidence, however with just one goal in it, the visitors continued to press.

As Rangers searched for a seldom opportunity, confusion at the back led to Charlie Mulgrew nearly heading over his own keeper, Zaluska only for the Pole to collect.

Just before the hour mark in the game, Bougherra was next to go into ref Calum Murray’s book for a cynical tackle on Gary Hooper. With Hooper picking the ball up near the half way line, the Algerian stopper lunged in, leaving Hooper in need of medical treatment.

The game was starting to swing in Celtic’s favour, with Ki again going close from long range. Samaras then went close to doubling Celtic’s lead, seeing his effort rocket off Alan McGregor’s near post, leaving the keeper no chance of stopping the shot.

After just over an hour of play the visitors had failed to record a single opportunity on goal, with Celtic never looking out of control in the game.

A rare rangers break failed to produce anything in front of goal, as Maurice Edu fired the ball across goal, with the nearest player Diouf outnumbered by three Celtic defenders.

Although Rangers were still in the game, Celtic were beginning to exploit the extra man advantage when coming forward, with the SPL champions starting to look leg-weary.

Another Rangers break was wasted when Steven Davis who had done well to stride down the right hand side of midfield, played in a tired cross, failing to find any of his three supporting team mates.

Full back Izaguirre continued to trouble Rangers on the left hand side and done well to find Samaras in a crowded box, only for the strikers headed effort to be held comfortably by McGregor.

In the latter stages of the game, discipline threatened to go out the window as both sides gave away needless fouls and picking up bookings in the process.

With Rangers trying in vain to equalise Steven Davis should have done better after catching Celtic on the counter attack. After breaking down the right side of the park, Davis’s cross was one of a tired player, not coming close to any of his supporting team mates with the opportunity wasted.

Rangers’ last chance of the game also marked their only effort on goal in the entire night. After Kyle Bartley was fouled just outside the area, Diouf stepped up to tamely fire straight at the waiting Zaluska.

In the closing stages of the game with Kris Commons on the break for Celtic, Rangers were reduced to nine men as Madjid Bougherra received a second bookable offence for a crunching tackle on the Hoops midfielder. The Rangers defender was incensed by the decision, even making an effort to stop Calum Murray producing the red card. As the centre half continued to protest toward the referee he had to be wrestled away from other members of the Rangers team in an effort to halt the ensuing dissent.

As the final whistle went and Celtic progressed to the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup, scenes of bedlam broke out as El-Hadji Diouf was sent off for dissent. This was followed by Rangers Assistant manager Ally McCoist and Celtic manager Neil Lennon confronting one another, having to be pulled apart by both technical teams as Strathclyde Police moved in to calm the scenes at Celtic Park.

It marked the end of a hugely controversial night at Celtic Park, which will no doubt see both clubs hauled before the SFA disciplinary chiefs to answer questions over the sheer lack of discipline shown by both sides.
TEAMS

Celtic

24 Zaluska
03 Izaguirre
05 Majstorovic
12 Wilson
21 Mulgrew
08 Brown
18 Ki Sung-Yeung
33 Baram Kayal
09 Samaras
15 Commons
88 Hooper

SUBS

47 Cervi
04 Juarez
25 Rogne
10 Stokes
49 Forrest

Rangers

01 McGregor
03 Weir
05 Papac (Wylde 51)
12 Foster
24 Bougherra
07 Edu
08 Davis
16 Whittaker
21 Bartley
10 Fleck (Hutton 46)
17 Diouf

SUBS

25 Alexander
39 Wylde
15 Healy
28 Kerkar
41 Hutton

Man of the Match
Emilio Izaguirre

Attendance
57,847

Referee
Calum Murray

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