Celtic narrowly edged Rangers 2-1 on Saturday in the latest edition of the Old Firm.

The heated match featured practically everything a neutral fan could ask for. There was a great pace to the game, stunning goals, and a dramatic ending that had fans on the edge of their seats until the final whistle.

The bitter rivals entered the weekend sitting in the top two spots in the Scottish Premiership. Celtic was five points ahead of Rangers atop the standings, but the Bhoys had previously lost two of their last four matches. The Gers, on the other hand, came into the game without a league loss since late September.

Celtic turned up the pressure after a fairly even start

The Celtic Park crowd helped set the stage with an electric atmosphere inside the arena. Saturday’s matchup then got off to a frenetic start, with both teams having good scoring opportunities in the opening ten minutes.

The hosts had the first big chance of the match in the fifth minute, but Kyogo saw his shot saved by Jack Butland. Ross McCausland then saw his dangerous low cross into Celtic’s boss kicked away by Joe Hart two minutes later.

While the game started fairly even, Celtic eventually began to turn the screws as the game went on. Paulo Bernardo initially skimmed the side netting of the Rangers goal with a shot in the 23rd minute.

However, the Portuguese midfielder put his team ahead just two minutes later with a wonderful strike. The hosts created the goal from a quality corner kick into the box.

Bernardo collected the ball and struck a perfect shot beyond an outstretched Butland to give Celtic the lead. The goalscorer was then somewhat harshly booked for celebrating with the home fans.

Although they grabbed an early goal, Celtic was dealt a blow when Stephen Welsh had to be substituted with an apparent shoulder injury in the 35th minute. The club was already short at the central defender position with USMNT star Cameron Carter-Vickers missing the match. Maik Nawrocki entered the fray for the injured center back.

The visitors had multiple solid opportunities to grab a goal before halftime. McCausland, Todd Cantwell, and Cyriel Dessers all tested Hard in goal in the latter stages of the period. Nevertheless, the goalkeeper was up to the challenge and saved a series of shots ahead of the break.

Rangers push for late equalizer in dramatic second half

Celtic once again came out firing in the second half. Kyogo doubled his team’s lead with a glorious strike less than two minutes into the period.

The Japan international picked up possession near the box, shifted the ball to his left foot, and hit a curling shot into the top corner of the net. Butland only managed to get a slight touch on the ball with his fingertips.

Furuhashi scored a stunning goal to make it 2-0
Furuhashi scored a stunning goal to make it 2-0

Furuhashi scored a stunning goal to make it 2-0

Soon after the goal, Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley suffered what looked to be a broken nose. The Dane was caught by an unintentional flying arm by a Rangers player. Despite blood continuously pouring out of his nose, officials only made the midfielder change his jersey before continuing on.

Things went from bad to worse for Rangers in the 71st minute when Leon Balogun was sent off for bringing down Daizen Maeda while the attacker was free on goal. It was surprisingly the first red card in the Old Firm in the last 13 matchups. Celtic’s Bernardo was substituted just before the incident after he narrowly escaped a sending off as well.

Despite being a man down, Rangers grabbed a goal back in the 88th minute with a stunning strike by James Tavernier. The incredible goal came from a free kick that only just narrowly escaped Hart’s hands. The beautiful curling effort tipped off of the goalkeeper’s fingers and into the top corner of the net. It was the team’s first shot on target in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers has a great record in the Old Firm Derby
Brendan Rodgers has a great record in the Old Firm Derby

Brendan Rodgers has a great record in the Old Firm Derby

Rangers pushed for a late equalizer deep into added time, but the visitors could not find another goal.

The win by Celtic opens up their lead atop the table to a massive eight points. The league leaders, however, have played two extra top flight games compared to their rivals.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Sportimage.