SPL

Rangers 1-0 Celtic: Helander the champions' hero in frantic Old Firm clash

By Sports Desk August 29, 2021

Rangers overcame plenty of adversity to clinch a 1-0 victory over OId Firm rivals Celtic thanks to Filip Helander's brilliant header.

Hit by a raft of COVID-19 cases, with manager Steven Gerrard among those isolating, Scottish champions Rangers still had the better of 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 vociferous, albeit wholly one-sided due to coronavirus restrictions, Ibrox crowd into ecstasy. 

Ryan Kent had previously hit the post for Rangers, with Helander's header punishing the profligacy of Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, who missed a golden chance midway through the first half as the Hoops' winless run against their Glasgow rivals in the league was extended to seven matches.

An enthralling, end-to-end start should have culminated in Celtic taking the lead in the 25th minute, yet Edouard – hunting his eighth league goal against Rangers – somehow skewed wide of a gaping 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 the upright came to Celtic's rescue.

Playmaker Kent tried another curler on the stroke of the hour, only to send his strike straight at Hart for a comfortable save.

Rangers' pressure finally told after the hour, however – Helander rising to meet Barisic's inswinging delivery, with Hart unable to keep out the centre-back's towering header.

Helander almost went from hero to pantomime villain straight from the restart when his slip enabled Kyogo Furuhashi to steal in, but on his league debut for Rangers, stand-in goalkeeper Robby McCrorie made a fantastic save to spare his team-mate's blushes and seal victory.

What does it mean? A big, big win for Gerrard

Rangers cruised to the title as Celtic capitulated last season, but the Hoops look a different proposition under Ange Postecoglou, though he has now become the first manager to lose his first league Old Firm derby match in charge of Celtic since Tony Mowbray in October 2009.

Gerrard will have been kicking every ball from home during the contest, no doubt, and given the adversity Rangers have faced this week, not to mention a gruelling trip back from Armenia, it feels like a statement win from the champions.

McCrorie's nerves of steel

If you are going to make your Premiership debut for Rangers, you might as well do it in the biggest game of all.

Having made his Rangers bow in the Europa League on Thursday, 23-year-old McCrorie came up with two terrific saves in the second half, twice denying the lively Furuhashi.

Edouard found wanting

Only against Motherwell (10) and Hamilton Academical (eight) has Edouard netted 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 the Hoops' last 14 strikes against their rivals in the top flight.

However, he fluffed his lines in some style on Sunday, missing from point-blank range and a frustrating day for the forward came to an end shortly after Rangers had taken the lead. His miss was his only shot, while he managed just 19 touches in total. If he is to leave Celtic, it would not have been how he wanted to bow out.

What's next?

Celtic host Ross County after the international break, while Rangers face St Johnstone. Both of those games take place on September 11.

Related items

  • Sedin brothers, Luongo and Alfredsson headline Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Sedin brothers, Luongo and Alfredsson headline Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2022

    Twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin, along with former Vancouver Canucks team-mate Roberto Luongo and long-time Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, headline the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2022. 

    Finish women's hockey great Riikka Sallinen and Herb Carnegie, a black hockey pioneer, were also selected Monday to be inducted in November. 

    Daniel and Henrik played all 17 of their NHL seasons together for the Canucks after being selected second and third overall in the 1999 NHL draft. 

    Henrick finished his career with 1,070 points and won the 2009-10 league scoring title and the Hart Trophy as league MVP that season, while Daniel ended with 1,041 points and won the NHL scoring title in 2010-11 with 104 points. 

    Henrik routinely set up his brother, finishing his career with 830 assists (27th all time) while Daniel was the beneficiary of Henrik's passes, tallying 393 goals. 

    The brothers each won an Olympic gold medal for Sweden at the 2006 Games and helped lead the Canucks to 11 playoffs trips and a berth in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. 

    While the Sedins fuelled the offense for those Canucks teams, Luongo protected the net, serving as Vancouver's goaltender from 2006-07 until he was traded to the Florida Panthers on in March 2014.

    Over a 19-season career from 1999-2000 to 2018-19, Luongo ranks second among all goalies with 1,044 games played while his 489 wins are fourth most. 

    A three-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, Luongo ranks ninth all time with 77 career shutouts and was also the goalie on the Canada team that won the 2010 Olympic gold medal. 

    Alfredsson, who also won an Olympic gold as a team-mate of the Sedins on the 2006 Sweden team, spent 17 of his 18 NHL seasons with the Senators. 

    The winner of the 1995-96 Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, Alfredsson finished his career with 444 goals (tied for 64th all time) and 1,157 points (55th most in NHL history). 

    Sallinen, the first woman not born in North America to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, won bronze medals for Finland at the 1998 and 2018 Olympics, while Carnegie, who died in 2012 at the age of 92, is widely considered the best black hockey player to never play in the NHL. 

  • Mariners trade for Carlos Santana after Ty France injury Mariners trade for Carlos Santana after Ty France injury

    The Seattle Mariners acquired veteran slugger Carlos Santana from the Kansas City Royals for a pair of pitchers on Monday, helping to fill the void at first base in the wake of Ty France's injury.

    The 36-year-old Santana is in the midst of a third straight sub-par season, batting .216 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 52 games, but has shown significant improvements at the plate in the past three weeks.

    After slashing .157/.291./.244 with seven extra-base hits in his first 37 games, Santana has compiled a .367/.492./.592 slash line with two home runs, five doubles and 11 RBIs in 15 contests since June 7.

    An All-Star in 2019 with the Cleveland franchise, Santana's 263 career home runs are the seventh-most by a first baseman since his 2010 rookie season.

    Santana will take over at first for France, who suffered a Grade 2 flexor strain in his left forearm on Thursday and is sidelined indefinitely. 

    France was enjoying a stellar season before his injury, batting .316 with 10 home runs while leading Seattle with 45 RBIs.

    The Mariners, who own baseball's longest active playoff drought at 20 seasons, begin play on Monday in fourth place in the AL East, seven games out of the league's second wild card spot.

    As part of the trade, Seattle sent right-hander Wyatt Mills and minor league righty William Fleming to Kansas City, with the Mariners also receiving cash considerations.

    Santana, who was first traded to the Mariners in 2018 but returned for a second stint in Cleveland 10 days later, is in the final year of a two-year, $17.5million contract.

  • Bale: Los Angeles FC move has come at right time in my career Bale: Los Angeles FC move has come at right time in my career

    Gareth Bale says he has joined Los Angeles FC at "the right time" in his career and is hoping to add more trophies to his haul during his time in Major League Soccer.

    LAFC announced on Monday that Bale has joined the club on a 12-month deal, with the option to extend through to 2024, following the expiration of his Real Madrid contract.

    As part of the deal, LAFC must pay fellow MLS side Inter Miami $75,000 in 2023 General Allocation Money (GAM) in exchange for the discovery priority to Bale.

    The Wales international had been linked with a number of teams, including former side Tottenham and hometown club Cardiff City, but he has opted for a move Stateside.

    And 32-year-old Bale, who is looking to maintain his fitness ahead of Wales' World Cup 2022 campaign in November, believes he has made the right choice.

    "I am extremely excited for this move to LAFC," he told the club's official website. "This is the right place for me and my family and the right time in my career. 

    "I cannot wait to get started working with the team and getting ready to win more trophies in Los Angeles."

    Bale spent nine years with Madrid – including a season on loan at Tottenham in 2020-21 – and won 16 trophies in the Spanish capital.

    However, he made just 21 league appearances combined in his final two campaigns at the Santiago Bernabeu, either side of that Spurs loan, after falling out of favour.

    Bale has continued to prove his pedigree over that time with Wales, most recently playing a key part in the recent World Cup qualifying play-off wins over Austria and Ukraine.

    The Southampton academy product will boost an LAFC side who already lead the Supporters' Shield race, and head coach Steve Cherundolo is delighted with the acquisition.

    "There are simply not many players in the world who can have an impact on a match like Gareth Bale," Cherundolo said. 

    "He can be dangerous in so many different ways, and we expect him to complement what we believe is already a strong team from the moment he arrives. 

    "His knowledge of the game and experience in playing in big games will be invaluable for our club."

    LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington added: "I am grateful to Gareth's management team who helped make this happen. 

    "It's clear Gareth is highly motivated to continue winning trophies and we're elated he has made the choice to join LAFC and help lead us in our goal of winning championships."

    Bale and fellow new signing Giorgio Chiellini are eligible to make their LAFC debuts against the LA Galaxy in El Trafico on July 8.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.