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Rangers & Celtic play out six-goal thriller as Matondo stunner rescues draw


EIGHT points in October.

Here 2-0 at half-time.

Daizen Maeda scored at Ibrox after just 21 seconds


Daizen Maeda scored at Ibrox after just 21 secondsCredit: Kenny Ramsay
Matt O'Riley made it 2-0 before half time


Matt O’Riley made it 2-0 before half timeCredit: Reuters
Abdallah Sima made it 2-2


Abdallah Sima made it 2-2Credit: PA
Rabbi Matondo struck in added time to rescue a point after Adam Idah scored


Rabbi Matondo struck in added time to rescue a point after Adam Idah scoredCredit: Willie Vass

With 87 minutes on the scoreboard clock Celtic were 3-2 ahead and had Rangers where they wanted them.

But if Philippe Clement has instilled something into this Ibrox squad it’s a never-say die mentality to keep going until the final kick off the ball.

And it’s that mentality that’s going to take this title race right down to the wire.

That’s how this derby clash went.

To the dregs of stoppage time when Rabbi Matondo made it 3-3 and then two sets of players and coaches even pulled apart AFTER it was all over.

By then this very much felt like a better result for Rangers than it did Celtic.

Brendan Rodgers’ post-match spin told a different story as he pointed to the outstanding first-half performance from his players.

But in the cold light of day he must believe Celtic let their big rivals off the hook.

Rangers were miles off their best and yet still earned a result that means they can go two points clear at the top of the table if they win their game in hand against Dundee at Dens Park this Wednesday night.

Celtic certainly couldn’t have hoped for a better start, could they?

Moment Celtic fans unveil banner outside Parkhead ahead of Rangers clash as Green Brigade give stars rousing send off

Scoring after 21 seconds wasn’t in Rodgers’ game-plan but, at the same time, he did give Daizen Maeda the job of running at James Tavernier at every opportunity.

The Rangers captain just wasn’t ready for it.

Sure, there was clearly a huge element of luck with the way the ball ended up in the back of Jack Butland’s net.

But Tavernier had to do better in the situation.

It was only when he realised the gusting wind had got a grip of it, and was pulling it in his direction, that he reacted. 

But even then, his attempted clearance wasn’t sharp.

Maeda was breathing down his neck and, by simply sticking a leg out, he was the man who fired Celtic into a priceless early lead.

Celtic had the foothold in the game they needed.

Rodgers’ side were set up to pounce on every little mistake – and there were plenty.

Rangers couldn’t have any complaints with Celtic’s second goal either.

Goldson clearly elbowed the ball inside his own box. 

Referee Beaton didn’t initially see it but he only needed a quick look at the VAR monitor to point to the spot.

O’Riley’s Panenka penalty was then just class.

Clement’s unhappiness down on the touchline was there for all to see, just as Rodgers’ joy was written all over his face.

Celtic still needed Joe Hart to make a big double save just before half-time to deny Fabio Silva.

But the truth is that it was the visitors who looked far more likely to get another goal.

Only Butland’s brilliance kept out a header from O’Riley in a huge moment. Reo Hatate fired a shot wide. Kyogo was inches away at the back post.

Clement had a major job on his hands at the break and his decision to take off Scott Wright and replace him with Abdallah Sima was one he had to make.

Rangers needed more down the flank than they were got in the first-half.

As ever with this fixture, though, a 2-0 lead wasn’t ever going to be enough to see out the win.

Rangers came sprinting out for the second-half and their intensity levels were night and day from what they were before the break.

Silva was one of the players who had to raise his game because what he gave the team for 45 minutes was embarrassing.

That’s why Beaton booked him for diving after 51 minutes, because of his earlier antics.

It was only when the ref was again urged to take another look on the TV screen that he realised the Portuguese had clearly been brought him down inside the box by Alistair Johnston.

The yellow card was rescinded and Tavernier showed terrific composure to blast past Hart.

Johnston had been booked earlier in the the game and the home players and supporters wanted another caution and red card for his foul, but Beaton didn’t see it that way.

Rangers, though, suddenly looked a different team with Celtic vulnerable for the first time.

It was their renewed energy that carved out the chance that they thought had brought them level in 56 minutes.

It was only after yet another VAR check that Beaton realised he’d failed to spot a foul by Tom Lawrence on Tomoki Iwata in the build-up and that Cyriel Dessers’ goal shouldn’t count.

They got there eventually, the officials, but that was the third big incident Beaton got wrong. 

With their tails up, the question was whether Rangers could sustain their pressure and get the next goal.

When it came from Sima in 86 minutes – after an uncharacteristic mistake from Callum McGregor in the middle of the park – most supporters probably thought that was very much that.

But there was still so much more drama to come first.

Idah thought he’d scored the winner in 87 minutes with the Hoops bench erupting when the Irish striker smashed a shot through Butland.

But incredibly, in the third minute of stoppage time Matondo curled a spectacular shot past Hart to ensure there was no separating these two sides at the end of pulsating derby.

Even then, it still wasn’t over.

After Beaton’s final whistle, the two sets of players clashed with Greg Taylor and Todd Cantwell pulled apart.

Rangers assistant boss Alex Rae had words with Taylor on his way up the tunnel which provoked an angry response from John Kennedy.

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