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Rangers overcame plenty of adversity to win a 1-0 victory over OId Firm rivals Celtic thanks to Filip Helander’s brilliant header.
Hit by a series of COVID-19 cases, with manager Steven Gerrard among the isolated, the Scottish champions Rangers still had better Sunday’s derby and found a deserved breakthrough in the 66th minute.
Helander met Borna Barisic’s corner with a thumping header to score his first Old Firm derby goal, sending a loud, albeit one-sided, due to coronavirus restrictions, the Ibrox crowd in ecstasy.
Ryan Kent had previously hit the post for Rangers, with Helander’s header punishing Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard, who missed a golden chance midway through the first half as Hoops’ sailless run against their Glasgow rivals in the league was extended to seven games.
FULL TIME: Rangers 1-0 Celtic
Three points on Ibrox pic.twitter.com/A2jAnnjgv9
– Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) August 29, 2021
A breathtaking start from end to end should have culminated in Celtic taking the lead in the 25th minute, yet Edouard – who chased his eighth league goal against Rangers – somehow scored a skewed goal from five yards out.
Kent did much better at the other end seven minutes later, beating Joe Hart with a sublime curling effort, but upright Celtic came to the rescue.
The playmaker Kent tried another curl in the stroke of the hour, only to send his strike directly at Hart for a comfortable save.
Rangers’ pressure finally told after the hour, but – Helander got up to accommodate Barisic’s inswinging delivery, where Hart could not keep the center – back’s towering header out.
Helander went from almost all the way to pantomime villain right from the restart when his drop allowed Kyogo Furuhashi to steal in, but on his league debut for Rangers, stand-in goalkeeper Robby McCrorie made a fantastic save to save his teammate’s blush and seal the victory. .
What does it mean? A big, big win for Gerrard
Rangers crossed the title when Celtic capitulated last season, but Hoops looks a different bid under Ange Postecoglou, though he has now become the first manager to lose his first league Old Firm derby at Celtic since Tony Mowbray in October 2009 .
Gerrard will no doubt have kicked every ball away from home during the competition, and given the adversity Rangers have faced this week, not to mention a grueling trip back from Armenia, it feels like a declaration victory from the champions.
McCrories nerves of steel
If you’re going to make your Rangers Premiership debut, you might as well do it in the biggest game of all.
After getting his Rangers to bend in the Europa League on Thursday, the 23-year-old McCrorie came up with two fantastic saves in the second half, twice denying the lively Furuhashi.
Edouard felt like it
Only against Motherwell (10) and Hamilton Academical (eight) has Edouard scored more league goals than against Rangers, while the Frenchman – who has been linked with a move away from Celtic before Tuesday’s transfer deadline – had scored (seven) or assisted (three) 10 of Hoops’ last 14 strikes against their rivals in the top flight.
However, he fluffed his lines in some style on Sunday, missing from the point-blank range and a frustrating day for the striker came to an end shortly after Rangers had taken the lead. His miss was his only shot while managing just 19 touches in total. If he were to leave Celtic, it would not have been how he would bend.
Celtic host Ross County after the international break while Rangers face St Johnstone. Both of these matches will take place on September 11th.