Rangers returned to action following a weeks hiatus to take part in one of the biggest fixtures in world football. The first Old Firm derby of the season, and the first encounter between the sides in nearly 10 months. If you were to believe those of a lesser mindset, you would think that we were playing against 5th choice under 9 side. The reality is, of course, that our opponents were missing some important players, and given the strength of our line up it is was perfectly reasonable to expect victory for our side in the build up to kick off. The irony of this fixture being much later than normal and as a result giving that lot a much weaker side is certainly not lost on us, it’s just a nice quirk in the whole affair. The team played really well in the opening stages of the game but strangely regressed to the oppositions level for the duration of the half, making for a rather strange experience of an Old Firm first half watch. The second half was a rather controlled affair. Once the game was beyond the reach of them, the game became a procession, a performance as straight forward as what you can get in Old Firm ties.
Let’s not downplay how well we did though. As much as we could have done even better and scored a lot more goals in the game, and really put the throat down on them, we still can feel utterly delighted about this game and enjoy the other lot wallowing in their total misery. There were some absolutely outstanding performances, both in the defence and the midfield, and perhaps if the attacking trio were on similar form then the score line could have been even more handsome. But we must kick on from this positive result, and go on a strong run of results to keep ourselves at the top of the league, and quite possibly extend it. We cannot allow the good work of this game be undone.
Here is how you rated our players from our Old Firm triumph.
Allan McGregor – 6.8 (7)
Goalkeepers tend to have rather busy days when Old Firm matches come. This was quite possibly one of the quietest games a goalkeeper could surely have in this game of games. As far as the chances that lot had, only two really made our keeper noticeable. A lob from their attacker which went clear over the bar, partly down to the player being forced to act with McGregor coming off his line. And the Griffiths opportunity which he rounded McGregor at was by far their best chance of the game, which again was meek in comparison to our chances. Otherwise, a totally quiet day for someone who has had a far busier days in these clashes.
James Tavernier – 8.0 (8)
A continuation of the consistent performances from Captain Fantastic. Gets the assist for the first goal, a fine free kick into a dangerous area that their defence did not know how to handle. He is also close to scoring what would have been the greatest goal in the history of ever, hitting a volley wide of the mark in what would have been the perfect combination of build up and execution. In terms of his defensive duties, he had absolutely no problem against the hapless Laxalt, and just looked a total level above the opposition he was up against. Leading by example as always, a performance to be proud of.
Connor Goldson – 9.1 (9)
October 17th should be celebrated as Connor Goldson day. A defender scoring two goals, the only goals, in an Old Firm win is a truly awesome achievement for a man who at one point might never have had a footballing career. When you look at both goals, the most noticeable thing about Goldson is the fact he simply wants it more than anyone else in the vicinity, on both occasions. His header is an example of strength to get in ahead of the poor marking from their defence. The second is about anticipation, staying up to be ready to receive the ball, and at the second attempt slotting the ball home, a calm finish in the circumstances. As well as scoring, his defending was also very good, really the only worrying point of the game was misjudging the bounce prior to their lobbed effort. A display he should be desperately proud of, and we are proud of him for continuing to prove the doubters wrong.
Filip Helander – 7.9 (8)
When Helander plays well, we look good defensively. Very good. There wasn’t really anything that bothered him in the tie, but this idea that he is there as a bruising defender is false. He is cultured, composed, and knows the game so well that in these big occasions he fits in so well. There was very little, if anything, to be wary of from their attack, and in the same way that a referee performs well be being unnoticeable, that can apply to a defender like Big Fil. This was solid from the Swedish international.
Borna Barisic – 7.3 (7)
In the same way Tav dealt with Laxalt with no issue, Barisic did the same with Frimpong. It was a simple kind of game for Borna, no dramas, easy enough, without an out of this world cross or assist to show for it. His cross in the second half which lead to a shot that could well have been a super goal for a number of reasons was unlucky not to go down as an assist. Was less involved in taking set pieces, more of a focus in doing his defensive work, but when we work best as a unit, Barisic is doing that work that Tavernier offers on the right. Although that top level form is not right back at where it was earlier in the season, his class and quality remain.
Scott Arfield – 7.5 (8)
Exactly what we needed in the midfield, and continue to benefit from. His role was going to be obvious. Energy, enthusiasm and excellent link up play with those on the right hand side. The triangles with Tavernier and (mainly) Kent flummoxed their defence. Arfield continued to provide that energy for the entire time he was on the park, and you have to say this lack of international football is making things so much better for both him and, as a result, us. As far as I am concerned, long may that continue.
Steven Davis – 7.2 (7)
Controlled the midfield really well, to the point that I wonder whether I, along with many others, were harsh on how we have rated him. He did not allow their midfield to impose themselves on the game, and remained calm in a tie he is so experienced in. There were some cheap balls given away, only natural when their lot really close in on him as much as they did. Given he continues to play an important part for his far more superior international team than their neighbours, his exploits continue to prove impressive.
Glen Kamara – 8.5 (9)
50 grand. That is what we spent on him. And in the past he has divided opinion over his worth in the side. But this was, I am sure, the best game he has ever played for us. His passing in this game was incredible. Sending their players down the shops with the cut backs he would make. His covering was exceptional, his overall use of the ball was great, it was exactly the kind of performance you would expect from a top level player. If he continues to play like this, there can be no debate over his worth. But that is the key, he needs to keep performing at that level.
Brandon Barker – 5.9 (6)
The surprise inclusion in the team, but given he has played in big games before and is capable of using his pace to stretch defences. The problem with that however, in a similar way to when players like Jones and Stewart play, is that there is a high chance of him being ineffective in these kinds of games. We saw nothing of him in the first half. In fairness he nearly set up a goal for his fellow wide attacker in the second half, not long before being taken off, in a game you could perhaps suggest he would not have featured in had a full stadium been a thing. We won the game, so the manager got the team right. But I think we need to break this habit of immediately going crazy when someone unexpected starts. We need to trust our manager more. Back the team from the get go.
Alfredo Morelos – 6.5 (7)
A lot of pressure for him going into this game, a game that so many are anticipating him to be the difference maker in at some point. Despite not getting that first Old Firm goal here, he still made an important contribution. He made some of their players lose focus, being the guy who ultimately won the wind up battle. I just wonder if he can do that in a more coy manner, as my heart was in my mouth on a couple of occasions. But that was not the most noteworthy part of his game, that would be doing him a disservice. He linked up play well, came deep and did not hide despite what people might want you to believe. So unlucky not to get his toe on the end of a deflection to add a third goal in the game. We will just need to wait until January for him to break that Old Firm duck.
Ryan Kent – 7.2 (7)
Had some good chances and worked hard but just wasn’t able to convert any of those opportunities, and he was unfortunate not to put away a chance from a great cross from the left. As much as we did not get the total domination we perhaps expected from him when it comes to the game that we know he relishes so much, it was still a good (if not great) output. His top level will return soon enough.
Ryan Jack – 6.4 (7)
Used in the right way in this game, as someone who can come into the team when the game is looking comfortable. Playing in the area of the park Arfield did, but in a very different role, far more sensible when the game is at that stage than starting a game you are looking to score. And he performed that task very well I thought. But he is some ways off breaking back into that midfield trio.
Cedric Itten – 5.6 (6)
Comes in late on to see things out, no noteworthy moments but it would have been something else had he scored!
Joe Aribo – 5.6 (6)
Great to see Aribo back in the squad and playing. If he keeps up his form from before, he will be a great asset in this next run.