Ange Postecoglou’s side have only registered two defeats this season in what has been a memorable, potentially historic, campaign for the Australian and his reigning champions.
With 95 points out of a possible 105, this league season has been relatively error-free. However, Saturday’s defeat at Ibrox uncharacteristically saw several costly mistakes leading to three Rangers goals.
Rangers took the lead in the opening five minutes through Todd Cantwell. However, this goal most definitely could and should have been avoided.
Firstly, the shot from John Lundstram should have been dealt with more convincingly by Joe Hart. No top-flight goalkeeper should be parrying the ball back into the six-yard box like that, never mind a keeper of Hart’s quality and vast experience. That is an attacking player’s dream. Hart, if he was unable to gather the initial shot, should have knocked it wide and away from the danger area.
Secondly, once the ball rebounded, Yuki Kobayashi was far too slow to react. He should have been alive to the possibility that the secondary ball had to be won, but his response was laboured, leaving him flat-footed and unable to defend the danger.
SOUTTAR DOUBLES THE LEAD
Unfortunately, Kobayashi would again be at fault for the second goal. Many fans have claimed that Rangers central defender John Souttar pulled Kobayashi’s jersey, but if you take a closer look, you will find both central defenders are at it.
Kobayashi had to be much stronger in that situation. Souttar got the better of him physically, and the Celtic centre-half was left on his backside.
Once again, it certainly can be argued that Hart should have done better. He was left standing very flat-footed, beaten by a header that is by no means in either corner of his goal.
Celtic were at times sloppy in possession, giving away easy passes or being caught taking too much time on the ball. It was a feature of their performance and one that Rangers capitalised on in 70 minutes.
Rangers finished the game off as a contest when Fashion Sakala pounced on some miscommunication between Callum McGregor and Carl Starfelt. This was the final nail in the coffin for Celtic. A rare mistake from captain McGregor says it all about Celtic’s poor day at the office. Neither McGregor nor Starfelt seemed to want to claim the ball, causing a mix-up which led to them both going for it, leaving them tangled in each other’s legs.
If you take a look at the third goal again, you could also call it a hat-trick of errors for young Kobayashi. Although not actually causing the error which led to the goal, his reaction time is extremely worrying. As soon as McGregor hesitated, Kobayashi should have been alive to the danger, but his body is still facing the Rangers goal until Sakala retrieved the ball following McGregor and Starfelt’s mishap. Sakala was eventually pushed out wide by Joe Hart and only just squeezed the ball into the net. As the ball trundled over the line, Kobayashi’s reaction time meant he had no chance of clearing the danger behind his keeper.
It is never nice to single out a young player and he was by no means a standout disappointment. In-fact, the Japanese centre-back actually had a steady enough game if you take away the three goals. He was calm on the ball, won several duals, and played some excellent passes forward.
However, in games like these there is absolutely no time for slow reactions, and this is what ultimately cost Kobayashi and his team-mates in the final Glasgow Derby of the campaign.