Celtic reaction: Story behind Matt O'Riley's Rangers Panenka, Brendan Rodgers 'simulates' call, better football team claim

Celtic manager had been expected the Dane’s effort and believes title hopes are still very high

Brendan Rodgers has revealed that Matt O’Riley offered his services as a penalty taker months before stunning Ibrox with a chipped ‘Panenka’ to put Celtic 2-0 up against Rangers in the first of two title showdowns between the rivals.

The Celtic manager was also expecting such a cheeky effort, which was worked on in training after studying Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland’s movement.

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The visitors saw their two-goal lead cancelled out in the second half and they were later pinned back again after Adam Idah had restored Celtic’s lead with three minutes left. But Rabbi Matondo scored a stunning equaliser in time added on to make it 3-3 and leave the title race delicately poised with six games – seven in Rangers’ case – left.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates Adam Idah's goal at Ibrox.Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates Adam Idah's goal at Ibrox.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates Adam Idah's goal at Ibrox.

Rodgers believes his side, who remain one point ahead of Rangers with a game to come at home against their rivals, are now well placed to retain the title. “It puts us in a really strong position,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do, still six games to go. But when you have your nearest rival still to play at home in front of 60 odd thousand, and you know you're going to be stronger again to that moment, I'm very happy with that."

Comeback pair Callum McGregor and Reo Hatate traded places after 65 minutes, with the former replacing the latter, who had started. The visitors’ dominance had begun to fade after a strong opening 45 minutes but on top of their three goals they still had several chances to score. Rodgers stressed that he was proud of his team.

“We leave here – yes, some may be disappointed we did not win but I thought we were much the better football team in terms of how we were trying to approach the game," he said. "With a bit more precision with our passes we might have scored more goals. And now we can take that into the rest of the season, with these players coming back I am very excited.”

Asked if his heart was in his mouth when O’Riley stepped up at the penalty nine minutes before half-time, he said: “It wasn’t actually. He came into my office a few months back and said, ‘Listen if you want to change penalty takers, I am here.’ He has been practising. He asked the coaches, we know where he (Butland) is going. He showed that composure and practised the other day…”

Rodgers was prepared for O’Riley’s impudent effort, even if Butland wasn’t. “He had practised that,” he said. “He said he was going to dink it down the middle and he did that.”

Rangers were grateful for a route back into the game near the start of the second half after referee John Beaton was invited by VAR to reassess his decision that Fabio Silva had been guilty of simulation at a penalty appeal while trying to evade Alistair Johnston. Beaton rescinded Silva’s booking and awarded a penalty to Rangers, with James Tavernier scoring to cut the hosts’ deficit to 2-1. “I thought the referee got it absolutely right on the field,” said Rodgers. “He connected with the ball, the player simulates and it was right. So clearly then they score the penalty. It gets to 2-1 and then you expect something from Rangers.”



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