It seemed impossible, but Rangers somehow managed to surpass the utter ineptitude of the semi-final performance to lose 5-0 to Celtic in the final derby match of the season. The result could have been far worse in truth. This wasn’t just a bad display against a Celtic side who were fired up and playing well. Instead, what was witnessed was a complete capitulation, a sign that professional pride and fight had given way to fear and defeatism. Rangers had lost this game before they even tried to play it.
Rangers started the match with Halliday at left back after Declan John picked up an injury. The rest of the team was the same as that which started against Hearts. Celtic gave Edouard a start up front, and played McGregor on the left again.
Celtic started the match at a high pace. Within 10 minutes, they had 5 shots on goal and Rangers had barely got a touch of the ball. The only chance Rangers had was to ride out that storm and try to work their way into the match. On 14 minutes, any chance of that was killed. A throw in on the right saw Candeias play a terrible ball back to Tavernier. It was won by McGregor, who played it to Tierney. Candeias was poorly positioned to deal with the full back, and let him get to the byline. His cut back was a good one, and Edouard finished well.
Rangers started to see a little more of the ball after that, and created their only two chances of the half. The first came from an excellent pass by Murphy which found Holt on the run. His left foot effort was well saved by Gordon. The other chance saw Ajer caught out high up the pitch, and Candeias played the ball to Windass. He was running on goal, and had Cummings in the box. The striker made a move to the back post, where he was easily covered by defenders, and the cross from Windass seemed to be hoping that another player was following up.
On the 41st minute, Rangers started a run of 13 minutes either side of half time which are probably the worst baker’s dozen in the history of this fixture. On the ball in the Celtic half, Windass passed to Dorrans, who lost it very easily. A simple ball out to Edouard on the right found him one on one with Martin, and he had no trouble driving on to score a right foot effort into the far bottom corner. Just before half time, it got even worse. Murphy lost the ball on the edge of the Rangers box, and it was fed out to Forrest. He walked past four challenges and shot across goal to score the third.
Rangers decided to start the second half as they had ended the first. Within 2 minutes, Rogic had scored to make it 4-0. Despite a number of players being in the box, Rangers couldn’t fashion a clearance, and it fell to Rogic who had a simple finish from the edge of the box. Six minutes later, the fifth goal was scored, as McGregor converted a cross from Edouard.
In all honesty, the rest of the half was largely a non-event. Jak Alnwick made a great save at one point, as he had in the first half. Rangers got more of the ball, but purely because Celtic stopped playing with the same intensity. Windass hit the post, and Candeias put a volley wide, but by then next to no Rangers fan was watching.
When you’re playing a better team, and said team also wants the result more than you, this is what happens. For too long, excuses have been made, and it seems the players are using them as well. Losing games is something the fans hate, but come to accept if it was just one of those days. Losing to Celtic away from home is almost expected. Far better Rangers teams than this have lost those matches. In all my years of watching these fixtures, I’ve never seen a team lose so easily. That is something the fans can never accept. Celtic strolled to this win, with their goals all too easily scored. There will be plenty of fall-out from this one. With three fixtures to come, many Rangers fans are already done for the season.
Gordon, Brown, Rogic (Sinclair, 67), Boyata, Ntcham, Edouard (Griffiths, 75), Lustig (Hendry, 71), Ajer, McGregor, Forrest, Tierney.
SUBS NOT USED: Bain, Simunovic, Roberts, Kouassi.
Alnwick, Tavernier, Dorrans (Docherty, 71) Windass (Morelos, 55), Halliday, Candeias, Holt, Cummings, Murphy, Martin, McCrorie.
SUBS NOT USED: Kelly, Hodson, Rossiter, Goss, O’Halloran.