Celtic vs Rangers : First Blood to the Hoops in the SPL
One of the oldest title rivalries in the football, The Old Firm rivalry got underway this weekend with the first round of league games in Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League. Rangers are three time defending champions and their arch rivals Celtic would surely have loved to get a head start in the 2011-12 season. That is exactly what they did when the Scottish Premier League season kicked off.
RANGERS vs HEARTS ( 1-1)
Rangers began the pursuit of their 55th title under their new manager Ally McCoist. When you have a season opener at home against a formidable side such as Hearts, sometimes it can really get tricky and that’s what happened to Rangers. The Rangers side had a very slow start in the first competitive match of the season and the first half offered the away team a bunch of opportunities.
Finally, the Ugandan player David Obua gave the visitors the lead which they could have easily extended before the half time. Obua met Danny Grainger’s corner, completely unmarked and headed home.
During the break the Rangers manager made a tactical move by bringing in Steven Davis in a central role which brought out creativity to the field. After passing two chances Naismith finally equalised for the home team, amidst the huge boos from the Ibrox Stands. However Rangers failed to cease the the momentum, Papac came close to scoring in the closing stages by shooting tamely at Marian Kello. At the other end, Obua tested McGregor with a fierce half-volley. Few could deny the fairness of shared points, with Hearts unquestionably the happier team.
Ally McCoist was in the center of a controversy with an interview to BBC in which it was shown that he considers the Old Firm rivalry to be no more than a joke. McCoist has banned the BBC from all interviews and press conferences until he gets an on-air apology.
HIBS vs CELTIC (0-2)
Celtic opened their quest to claim the SPL title with a straightforward victory at Hibernian much to the their manager, Neil Lennon’s delight.
It was the hosts who opened reasonably well. Garry O’Connor nodded home from close range, however Kelvin Wilson was very quick to react to the danger. It was the wake-up call the Celtic defence needed and they were hardly tested after that. Soon Kris Commons had a free-kick to the back post, and an error from the Hibs goalkeeper Graham Stack who just manged to knock the ball to Stokes’s feet. Stokes acknowledged the gift by firing the ball into high into the roof of the net. Celtic should have been further ahead within six minutes as Mark Wilson’s goal was ruled out offside when the replays showed him to be in line with the Hibs defence. To Celtic’ luck Hibs didn’t make use of the stroke of luck, rather the way side doubled their lead.
The second half too went the same way as the first with Celtic dominating the play. Ki Sung-Yueng doubled the visitor’s lead with a drive just after the hour mark. However Hooper’s penalty miss offered Hibs some hope, the magnitude of the lead was to difficult to handle for the home side as the visitors ran out as easy winners.
Celtic have four friendly matches before their next SPL game but they look to be up and running. With a two point lead over their main rivals Celtic would have love to carry on the momentum forward into the season.The break again can prove tricky to their title aspirations and they need to gear up, not commit the same mistakes else it would be Rangers who would be rooling the rooster in Scotland.