Glen Kamara was one of the stars of the show for Rangers in their win over Celtic. Joel Sked looks at the impact of the Finnish midfielder at Ibrox.
As Sunday's Old Firm encounter entered stoppage time Glen Kamara picked up a bouncing ball on the far side, protecting it from Jeremy Toljan. Oliver Burke and Scott Brown soon ambled across to win try and win possession but it was no more than a futile exercise, Burke with as much enthusiasm and belief as a beleaguered salesman trying to punt CD players on Buchanan Street.
Kamara simply popped in his earphones, ignored the Celtic players' attention and played his way out of a tight situation.
It was the culmination of a performance where the Finnish midfielder seemed to be taking part in a different game with a different mindset than those around him, on both sides.
The former Dundee star wasn't the best player on the park but he certainly was one of the best.
What made him stand out from the crowd, and that's what the midfield can be in an Old Firm clash, was his composure and awareness.
In these types of games, where it appears you have sat on the fast-forward button, ramping it all the way up to x30 on your Sky box, players need to have eyes in the back of their head. It's why players of limited ability can thrive in Old Firm games or the Edinburgh derby, where they play the way their facing and the term 'play' is being generous.
Kamara didn't just play as if he had eyes in the back of his head. He played as if he had a set of peepers on either side also.
It was an exemplary display where he protected the ball when required, and did so like an elephant would look after its calf. He wasn't afraid to play backwards, an action which can be regarded as blasphemy in derbies. But doing so slowed the game down to his pace.
The 23-year-old could have been accused of teasing and taunting Celtic players with his seemingly carefree approach.
He enticed opponents close to him, giving them ideas above their station, belief that they could win the ball. When they got near he moved the ball out of their reach. It was akin to a particularly mischievous bus driver. Spotting someone running for the bus in the wing mirror and just as they have caught up with the bus, just as they are approaching the door they drive off.
Kamara does it due to the confidence in his ability. He wants opponents at close proximity so he can take them out the game with a pass, or use their presence to spin, wriggle away and eat up the ground with his ball carrying.
It was best seen in the build up to the second goal. The midfielder had already got the Ibrox crowd on their feet with a turn away from Tom Rogic. Seconds later he brought a cheer which could have been confused for a goal.
Celtic captain Brown hared towards him in the same manner as a dog spotting a cat and losing all sense of its surroundings. While Brown went crashing head first into a glass partition, Kamara meandered away with a drop of a shoulder, gliding forward before playing the pass which set up Scott Arfield.
When the player arrived at Ibrox in January these moments weren't expected. He had signed a pre-contract agreement to join this summer but a deal was done with Dundee to bring the transfer forward for the meagre price of a reported £50,000.
The expectation was that he would be given time to adapt to playing for a club the size of Rangers, especially after the first five months of the season where he seemed to display as much interest in staying at Dens Park as undergoing a colonoscopy.
It wasn't an attitude that suggested he could make a transition to Ibrox and improve the team. So it is somewhat a surprise that he has started 14 games with Steven Gerrard putting his trust in the player who had played a dozen first-team games before arriving in Scotland at the start of last season.
From the start he impressed the Rangers support with his calmness in possession, the way he uses his body, the way he at eats up ground and ability to cut through the opposition with his passing.
It has not been all plain sailing. He hit a blip in March but has been reinvigorated by the switch in formation by Gerrard with the manager opting for a narrow 4-3-3 which has meant Ryan Kent and Scott Arfield are closer to him.
Arriving ahead of his pre-contract agreement has allowed him to dispel any doubts fans had over him and will allow him to hit the ground running in pre-season, already integrated, and kick on, right from the start next campaign.
Rangers and shrewd spending have not often been perfect bedfellows but the £50,000 parted with for Kamara looks well spent.