Scottish Flashback: Celtic 3-3 Rangers, Oct 2002

Lorenzo Amoruso and Henrik Larsson go for the ball during the Old Firm match in October 2002. Picture: TSPL
Lorenzo Amoruso and Henrik Larsson go for the ball during the Old Firm match in October 2002. Picture: TSPL
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RANGERS travelled to Celtic Park on the back of a UEFA Cup exit in October 2002, going out on the away goals rule to Czech outfit Viktoria Zizkov.

The Gers had won 3-1 at Ibrox in the second leg, but Zizkov’s 2-0 first-leg win sent the Ibrox side packing.

Celtic, by comparison, had seen off Lithuanian side Suduva 10-1 on aggregate, including an 8-1 win in Glasgow.

But Old Firm matches are unpredictable at the best of times, and even Celtic’s 18-point cushion over their rivals as they won the 2001/02 Scottish Premier League title was no indicator of how this match would go.

A crowd of 59,027 - the highest attendance of the season - crammed into Celtic Park to watch Martin O’Neill’s side take on Alex McLeish’s Rangers.

Mikel Arteta gave Rangers the lead after six minutes, with Hoops goalkeeper Rab Douglas letting the Spaniard’s long-range effort slip through his fingers.

Celtic hit back through Henrik Larsson five minutes before half-time, with the Hoops having a penalty claim turned down after Fernando Ricksen and Stilian Petrov clashed in the box.

During the half-time interval, Craig Moore, Ricksen and Alan Thompson became caught up in a fracas in the tunnel while in the second half, O’Neill was ticked off by referee Stuart Dougal.

Larsson gave Celtic the lead on 53 minutes, but Ronald de Boer’s well-placed header levelled matters 60 seconds later, with the Dutch international ‘almost joining the visiting fans’ as he celebrated, according to The Guardian’s report at the time.

Another error from Douglas allowed Georgian striker Shota Arveladze to restore Rangers’ lead with 15 minutes left on the clock.

The big ‘keeper spilled an effort from Arthur Numan, allowing Arveladze to poke the ball home but Celtic striker Chris Sutton grabbed the equaliser three minutes later, earning a share of the spoils for the Hoops.

O’Neill said at the time that it had been a ‘result that got away’ - Rangers would go on to win the SPL title that year on goal difference.

With Celtic and Rangers both tied on 97 points, 31 wins, four draws and three defeats, the title race went to the wire.

Rangers saw off Dunfermline 6-1 while Celtic’s 4-0 victory over Kilmarnock meant that the Ibrox side edged the title by one goal.

Celtic: Douglas; Laursen, Balde, Valgaeren, Sylla (Agathe); Petrov (Hartson), Lambert (Maloney), Lennon, Thompson; Sutton, Larsson. Subs not used: Gould, Crainey. Goals: Larsson 39, 53; Sutton 78. Booked: Thompson, Sylla, Balde.

Rangers: Klos; Numan, Ross, Amoruso, Ricksen; De Boer (Caniggia), Moore (Konterman), Arteta, Ferguson; Arveladze, Lovenkrands (McCann). Subs not used: McGregor, Latapy. Goals: Arteta 6; De Boer 54; Arveladze 75. Booked: Ross, De Boer, Ricksen, Arveladze.

Ref: S Dougal

Att: 59,027