One of the many great memories of this season is how we have just been so good in Old Firm ties this campaign. The fear factor for these games has flipped, it is now the fans of Celtic who have understandable nerves when they see us next on the calendar. The big wheel has indeed turned. And we had one more chance to prove our total dominance as we lined up on the 2nd of May to put in one more solid Old Firm display, and hopefully put in a higher score this time. Rangers fans were not disappointed. The line up was as you would expect, we are beginning to see that the squad is at it’s limit with players missing, but it was a strong team that took to the field all the same. An even opening then led to the opening goal, with some superb build up play and a clever finish to put us ahead. What was needed was calm heads, this didn’t happen and they equalised from a corner which was not properly dealt with, their muted celebrations really told a story though. It probably showed that they were not convinced they could keep the tie level for very long, and they turned out to be right with an excellent piece of forward play from our main striker to rub salt in the wound, and send Celtic captain Brown up the road with what was a meek performance in Old Firm ties.
The second half showed no sign of them being able to cause us any real problem, and the win looked sealed with a cross from the left headed in for our forward to secure an old firm double. It was such a joy to see how we had a team who were just so comfortable in this game, how their side could only resort to no look passes back to their goalkeeper when there was no pressure on them (seriously, he actually did that!) and we just controlled the ball and the flow of the game from there on in. What Rangers fans really wanted was another goal to put the shine on an already glittering display, and we managed that late on with our experienced substitute getting in on the act and doing what he does so well in scoring, with an Old Firm goal to add to his vast collection. 4-1. A result that is absolutely fair the way the game played out. And the bears absolutely enjoyed themselves in the aftermath, this bear in particular (he says still nursing a sore head).
Here is how you rated our players from our final Old Firm win of the season.
Allan McGregor – 7.9 (8)
It was a fairly quiet game for McGregor (not uncommon in Old Firm games these days) save for two moments to mention. The goal that they score has very little to do with anything McGregor does wrong, the defence in front of him should have done a lot more in that situation. But the key McGregor moment is a save he makes from Elyounoussi in the first half. It’s moments like that which can set the tone of a tie, and had they gone ahead it could have been a different type of game from there, we have all seen how opening goals can dictate games. But McGregor, sharp as ever, gets a finger tip to it and guides it onto the crossbar. Brief moments like that, that’s why you talk about him when you talk about great goalkeepers.
James Tavernier – 7.0 (7)
This felt a lot more like the pre injury Tav again. He looked far better in the first half at linking up and getting into those advanced positions. He didn’t have any major involvements in any of the goals as such but you could see that he looked a lot more confident to do his usual work. At the back, there was very little that troubled him, it was probably the ideal game for him to find that level of form again.
Connor Goldson – 7.1 (7)
He is still putting in the hours, and he is loving every second of it. There is nothing that really stands out from his afternoon, I wouldn’t blame him for the goal they score as it’s not his man that is the issue. One thing that was notable though was his guidance for his young defensive partner. He was more than happy to take ownership of any issues young Simpson was having, that says a lot about how Connor sees himself in this team, which is that he is vital. He knows it and we all know it too.
Jack Simpson – 6.3 (7)
A big test for Jack to see if he is ready to be a part of a Rangers defence in the coming years. No game matters more to Rangers fans than the Old Firm, so if you can prove you can hold your own in a game like this, then it bodes well for your career. The downside is you can point to his poor marking for their goal. He let his man easily get in front of him to set up Edouard. However, I thought he grew into the game and overall he can look at this and say he passed this test, without necessarily being a stand out. I think his covering work and pace to retrieve is one of his better traits. Still early days to make a final assessment, but this game had many better examples of his good points.
Borna Barisic – 7.4 (8)
You keep thinking back to Borna in his first season, and how he looked very ‘feart’ of the challenges that Scottish football brings. That is no longer a problem with Barisic. He looked so keen to be at the heart of our attacking play, and he knew he would have the better of any opposition on that side so was keen to take full advantage of that. His best moment was his perfectly weighted cross for our third goal. Had plenty of time to play the ball beautifully into the area that Roofe was going to find himself in. He had to go off with a muscle strain on his leg which probably ends his season, but thankfully not his EURO’s. A fantastic left back who I am so glad we have.
Glen Kamara – 7.0 (7)
Better, but still signs of a more subdued Kamara at the moment. Of course, there were plenty of really good moments but they were mixed in with some dodgy moments which is quite unlike what we have seen from him at his peak. Let’s face it, if these moments were extremely rare, Kamara would be in the POTY conversation without question. All the same, he has been so good across the season. Perhaps, however, this dip of late is a sign that the most important area to recruit this summer is the middle third.
Steven Davis – 7.7 (8)
Many people will see Davo as the obvious Player of the Year winner, and if the thing you look for first and foremost is how a player takes charge of a game, then he is going to be who you vote for, easily. He has alos won so many Old Firm games over the years, for so many he is ‘Mr Rangers’ and I love the fact that he is recognised as such. His experience means he knows when to do the right thing, and invaluable asset. But, of course, that will not last forever, so we need to make sure we do not suffer in years to come if we don’t find the heir apparent.
Joe Aribo – 7.1 (7)
I must admit I am still not sure on Aribo as a central midfielder. I don’t think he is quick enough to cover enough areas of the field in the way a Scott Arfield does. I don’t think he is strong enough to put in ball winning challenges consistently in the way a Ryan Jack does. All that said, however, I think he showed more heart in this Old Firm than in previous ones and other big games where he is asked to play in the middle three. He looked even better when he advanced in to the attacking third, testing their keeper and keen to provide link up play. So, even though it’s not his best Old Firm game he has had for us, this was the best when he has been asked to do that job that I don’t think he enjoys as much.
Kemar Roofe – 8.3 (9)
Well this was a rather superb performance from a man who maybe had to prove his worth to a number of fans. The main thing that people will look for with Kemar is the goal output, and an Old Firm double will never be forgotten, so I’m really chuffed for him to have achieved this, and hopefully it is a spring board going into next season. His first goal is good body adaptation to get his chest to the cross and direct the ball in, a clever bit of play and the second time he tried this in the game! His second goal, one of the best 1-2’s you will see. He passes to Barisic who knows exactly where Roofe is going, the ball is brilliantly played and Roofe heads in. Now, when of the things that has been an issue over the season is Roofe not doing the same on the right hand side as what Kent does on the left, or that he doesn’t do enough in the centre when he plays in Morelos’ position. Given what we have seen here, is it fair to say we should see Roofe as more of a target man going forward?
Alfredo Morelos – 7.4 (8)
That lot absolutely loved to cling on to the fact that Morelos had not scored in Old Firm games, and the fact he did it at Parkhead killed them enough, but to score one at Ibrox, one of the best goals he has scored for us, and completely ending Brown in the process, that was a truly special thing to witness. A nutmeg, moving it onto his left and just smashing the ball in, it was absolutely incredible. The finish, the celebration, the smile. That is an all time Old Firm moment.
Ryan Kent – 9.0 (9) – Man of the Match
Said it before, I’ll say it again. Ryan Kent simply adores these games. And this performance was one of his best. Not only do you look at the silky skills that produced some superb moments, but it was the sheer desire to do every single thing he could to hurt them. He plays the ball to Roofe for the opener, but it’s more about the absolute fear that their defence have over him. Three defenders close him down, but none of them want to actually challenge him. This is why he is utterly priceless.
Scott Wright – 5.6 (5)
On late to provide a bit of extra energy to a game that was absolutely done. Hopefully he sees what he can achieve by carrying on the good work he has started with us up to now.
Ianis Hagi – 5.4 (6)
On briefly but all the same makes an important contribution that I fear has been somewhat overlooked. He plays the ball to Defoe for the 4th goal. It’s an assist, it’s what he does, and he does it so often that it almost feels like he will never be as appreciated as what he should be for the talent he is. A smart ball, well played, and he deserves credit for it.
Jermain Defoe – 6.9 (7)
Cuts in, cuts out, leaves their defence for dead, and guides the ball home to complete the scoring and notch up yet another goal in his career. What a great moment for a player who is so important for us off the field I think, for him to have this to look back on in a season he finally wins a domestic title, he really deserves it.