The 6 key moments in Rangers' Scottish Cup victory over Celtic
1) The first moment comes before the match even got started. James Forrest’s back discomfort didn’t ease enough to allow the winger to take part in the match. The Scotland international was instrumental in Celtic thumping Livingston last weekend and his absence would have encouraged John Kennedy into returning to the 4-4-2 diamond after utilising a 4-2-3-1 last time out. The system worked well in the past two Old Firm meetings but didn’t quite reach those levels this time around.
2) Likewise, Kennedy’s decision to select Diego Laxalt over Greg Taylor ended up having a huge bearing on the match. Unlike the formation switch, this one made much less sense before kick-off. Taylor had been excellent against Livingston and has shown in 2021 that he’s a better option at left-back than the Uruguayan loanee. Laxalt was ineffective in attack, a crucial competent in the narrow system, while defensively he was exposed for the first two goals. He was hooked at the half but the damage had been done.
3) The build up to the opening goal highlighted the difference between this match and the two previous Old Firm encounters, particularly the last match at Ibrox. Celtic were able to really stifle the threat of their opponents and, despite the result, would have fancied their chances to achieve victory with a similar performance. Ryan Kent spinning away from Scott Brown before charging up the park, a move that would ultimately see the ball find its way to the back of the net, indicated this was going to be a very different encounter. The away side couldn’t get a handle on the explosive attacker, who was excellent throughout.
4) For the third Glasgow derby in succession, Celtic were guilty of blowing guilt-edge chances and failing to make superiority count. Overall it was a more even affair than either of the last two, but while Rangers scored when they were in the ascendancy, the Parkhead side continued to struggle. Stephen Welsh’s close-range miss, after being picked out by the excellent David Turnbull, was an early indicator that it was going to be another one of those days. And, coming at 1-0, it could have drastically altered the rest of the match.
5) As former manager Gordon Strachan was keen to stress on the Premier Sports coverage, Celtic were the better team in the second half. However, context is crucial. Yes the visitors came out in the second period with extra gusto and put their hosts under pressure, but the onus was on them to do so. They were trailing 2-0. They needed to attack and Rangers were content to defend. That cushion was secured when Joe Aribo’s cross was inadvertently turned into the back of his own net by Jonjoe Kenny as the full-back desperately tried to stop Kent scoring.
6) Celtic could have set up a grandstand finish or just put onus on Rangers to do more to try and see the match out, but they couldn’t find that composure in front of goal. For the sixth and final moment we could have selected any from three big misses in the second period, but Odsonne Edouard’s half-hearted penalty was the one that really summed it all up.
Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.