A key statistic in Rangers' failure to topple arch-rivals Celtic in Scottish football

Steven Gerrard’s side have issues late in matches

Steven Gerrard watched his side drop points for the second time this season away to Hibs. Picture: SNS
Steven Gerrard watched his side drop points for the second time this season away to Hibs. Picture: SNS

A characteristic often found in dominant football teams is the ability to score late goals.

Even when opponents have a sturdy resolve, they keep going for the 90 minutes, constantly wearing them down until they break their resistance.

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In Scotland we’ve been used to seeing this in matches involving either of the Old Firm. The last 15 minutes of matches for supporters of a non-Glasgow persuasion can be a living nightmare as you tick down the seconds on a rare opportunity to take something off either of the powerhouses.

It feels like heartbreak is often inevitable and the longer the game goes on the worse the heartbreak will be.

However, that feeling of inevitability has been much stronger when facing one side of the Old Firm compared with the other in recent seasons.

Rangers have had their struggles since returning to the top flight, famously falling short of second place in each of their first two season. But they’ve managed to make themselves legitimate title contenders in the last two campaigns, before falling away in the second half of each season, and lead the table at the time of writing.

One major flaw, which as evidenced by Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Hibs continues to haunt them, is their incapability of finding the breakthrough when chasing a goal late in matches.

Since Steven Gerrard took charge of Rangers in the summer of 2018, the Ibrox side have either been drawing or trailed by one goal going into the last 15 minutes of matches on 37 occasions. They have managed to find that elusive goal just eight times.

This is in stark contrast to Celtic, who in the same timeframe have needed a goal in 26 instances and found the back of the net a whopping 15 times.

The nine-time reigning champions have a success rate of 57 per cent, while Gerrard’s men sit at a lowly 22 per cent.

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Included in those 37 Rangers occasions have been three of their four exits from domestic cup competitions under Gerrard, while it remains a source of frustration in league football as they try to halt their rivals’ march toward ten-in-a-row.

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