Kyogo Furuhashi: Rangers’ Ever-Present Nightmare
No matter the tactics Rangers employ, they can’t seem to halt the unstoppable force that is Kyogo Furuhashi. Bringing in top talent like Jack Butland, or even infusing the side with eight new players during the summer, seems futile. Even the echoing roars of 50,000 of their devoted followers, sans any from Celtic, didn’t tip the scales in their favour.
When Celtic bid adieu to luminaries like Jota, and witnessed the exit of their formidable centre-back duo, Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers, many assumed Rangers would exploit such gaping voids. But no such advantage materialised at Ibrox.
For the fourth Old Firm showdown this year, it was Furuhashi who dominated the highlights reel. Rangers’ manager, Michael Beale, might be seeing all too familiar dreams of the Japanese dynamo, who once again stole the show amidst a chaotic derby. His track record against Rangers reads almost like folklore: vital goals in January, February, April, and now another chapter.
Celtic’s Moment of Brilliance
Moments before half-time, as Connor Goldson’s header was met and returned by Matt O’Riley, the ball danced above the Rangers’ defence. All eyes on one man – Furuhashi. His sublime first-time volley was a joy to behold. Jack Butland, despite his prowess, stood no chance. This sensational strike declared the tone of the season’s first Old Firm duel.
The Rangers’ Conundrum
As magnificent as Furuhashi was for Celtic, Rangers’ attacking ensemble raised eyebrows. Despite significant summer investments on attacking maestros, the results were lacking. Lammers and Danilo, along with newcomers Cifuentes and Sima, had opportunities but they floundered when it mattered most.
Amidst concerns about Liam Scales’ defensive mettle, he emerged as the unwavering foundation, while his compatriot, Gustaf Lagerbielke, appeared rather shaky. Many expected Rangers to capitalise on these chinks. Instead, it was a palpable absence of a cutting edge that echoed throughout Ibrox, with frustrated roars from the stands.
Controversial Moments and VAR
A potential game-changing moment ensued as a goal from Rangers was chalked off by VAR. The contentious incident involving Lagerbielke and Dessers had everyone talking. Was it a foul? The referee thought so. Yet, Rangers had ample possession and chances, but Celtic’s resilience shone through.
Rodgers’ Triumph and Celtic’s Future
Rodgers urged his team to “stand tall” in the intimidating cauldron of Ibrox. Celtic’s win may not have been their most glamorous, but for the fans, it was a victory to be savoured. The message was clear: if Rangers couldn’t capitalise against a Celtic side peppered with injuries at Ibrox, what might the future hold?
This Celtic side isn’t just about the present. There’s promise bubbling under with the likes of 20-year-old Odin Holm and other youngsters waiting in the wings. With Rodgers at the helm, the Celtic tapestry is only getting richer.
A Testing Time for Beale
For Beale, it’s been a tumultuous period. But Rodgers, with a near impeccable record against Rangers, added another feather to his cap. This might not have been a historic drubbing, but it’s a wound, a reminder, of Celtic’s tenacity in this timeless rivalry.