Celtic's Kyogo can surpass McCoist and Larsson with near 30-year derby first against Rangers
The Japanese forward has found his goal touch, and then some, against the club’s fierest rivals across 2023. Three derbies this year have yielded the 28-year-old no fewer than five derby strikes. The result of ramping up his lethalness in the fixture following his first counter in the confrontation that earned a 2-2 draw for Ange Postecoglou’s men in the new year meeting at Ibrox. In the form of doubles being served up by the summer 2021 signing from Vissel Kobe in subsequent victories for his team. The first secured Celtic the Viaplay Cup at Hampden in late February, and the second banked them the three points from the teams’ tussle at Celtic Park earlier this month that ensured their lead in this season’s title race assumed unassailable proportions.
These exploits provide Furuhashi with the opportunity to achieve a derby feat no player from either side has managed in almost three decades. A consequence of the fact that, incredibly, not since Celtic midfielder John Collins permed his free-kick prowess into regular net-bulging moments against Rangers between 1993 and 1994 has any performer from either club scored in four consecutive match-ups of the big two.
Scoring in three straight editions of Scotland’s highest profile fixture in recent times isn’t without precedent. Indeed, had John Hartson not had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside - and also failed to convert a penalty - in Celtic’s 2-1 League Cup final loss to the Ibrox side in March 2003, he would boast a five game run. The misplaced raised flag at Hampden that day led to a decision that continues to rankle with the affable Welshman…even without him considering the historical landmark it denied him. The result of the hulking front man netting in all four league outings between the bitter rivals across 2002-03.
Hartson’s three-game derby scoring run at least allows him to be on a par with fellow Celtic attackers Henrik Larsson, Moussa Dembele and Kris Commons. And, in the blue corner, Ally McCoist. It is not so much a surprise that the anointed predator is the only Rangers player to string together such a scoring trio in the fabled contest across the past three decades. Instead, as the top post-war derby scorer with a total of 27 goals in the contest, the wonder is that a four-match scoring sequence against opponents he seemed to so unerringly put to the sword proved beyond him.
If Furuhashi joins Collins in a select club he will bring up 50 goals in Celtic colours and top the 30 mark for a season as has no player at the club since Dembele netted 32 times in 2016-17. Scoring mastery that leaves his team-mates awe-struck. “It’s unbelievable – and that’s with him not being the penalty taker, as we saw last week…” said the club’s full-back Greg Taylor, in reference to the frontman’s spot-kick miss at Kilmarnock. “He’s been unbelievable. What a player – and what a man. He’s just so happy and so keen to do well, we are so grateful to have him. Honestly, he’s just a pleasure to play alongside and to have in the team as his enthusiasm to do well for the team is incredible. There aren’t enough superlatives for him.” More might be require to be dusted down soon, though.
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