Celtic’s emerging star Liam Scales shines for Brendan Rodgers’ team
When it comes to deflating the Kyogo Furuhashi hype balloon, Rangers are basically out of ideas. Their acquisition of star goalkeeper Jack Butland was a non-starter. Adding eight new players to the outfield during the summer? Not a game-changer. Hosting the clash amid a sea of 50,000 home supporters, sans a single Celtic fan? Inconsequential.
Over the summer, Celtic faced significant personnel losses, including Jota, a standout in previous matchups against Rangers. They also said goodbye to Carl Starfelt, one part of their reliable center-back duo, and lost Cameron Carter-Vickers, the other half of that championship-winning pairing, to an injury. And yet, none of these setbacks boomeranged to haunt them at Ibrox.
For the quartet of Old Firm matchups this year, the spotlight keeps falling back on one man: Kyogo Furuhashi. Rangers manager Michael Beale must be losing sleep over him by now. Amidst a chaotic, mistake-ridden game that was high on intensity but low on finesse, Furuhashi emerged as the offensive difference-maker.
Furuhashi’s track record against Rangers speaks volumes—an equalizer in January, a brace in the League Cup final in February, and another double in a 3-2 win in April. This time was no different.
Just before halftime, Connor Goldson’s clearing header was met by a responsive header from Matt O’Riley. The ball sailed over Rangers’ defense, finding Furuhashi who volleyed it in masterfully. Jack Butland had no answers. Earlier misses forgotten, Furuhashi rediscovered his finishing prowess and sealed the first Old Firm game of the season.
Rangers must be wondering what they need to do to get a player like Furuhashi. Their off-season was full of offensive investments, and despite the hefty price tags on new players like Sam Lammers and Danilo, the returns have been underwhelming so far.
When Lammers and Danilo were finally called upon to make a difference, they fluffed their lines. Chances were there, but they weren’t taken.
‘First-Half Psychological Blow Dealt’
While Liam Scales had his defensive integrity questioned prior to the match, the actual weak link was beside him. Gustaf Lagerbielke had a less than stellar performance, while Scales was the defensive stalwart Celtic needed. Rangers had their chances but lacked the precision needed to break through.
The collective groan from Ibrox was deafening, especially after an initial Rangers’ goal was disallowed by VAR for a questionable foul. The referee, Don Robertson, had to make a tight call, but ultimately, it couldn’t serve as an alibi for Rangers’ shortcomings.
‘Rodgers Strikes Again with a Bitter Pill for Rangers’
Brendan Rodgers urged his squad to “play like men” in a hostile environment, and they did. This win may not be their most glamorous over Rangers, but it was certainly one of the sweetest.
As Rodgers fine-tunes his youthful army—with players like Odin Holm, Paulo Bernardo, and Kwon Hyeok-kyu waiting in the wings—the future looks promising for Celtic. Rodgers’ enviable record against Rangers only grows stronger.
On the flip side, Michael Beale looked like he’d just watched a horror film. His search for a landmark victory continues, nearly 40 games into his tenure. As he turns 43 this coming Monday, it might be more a moment for reflections than celebrations.