We’ve all been told off as kids that pride comes before a fall. Our parent’s way of keeping our feet on the ground.
When Celtic visited Ibrox on 1 September it seemed the only people who believed Neil Lennon’s charges could return from the Lion’s den with 3 points was the Celtic support. There were even a good few of our own who would have been happy just to avoid defeat.
The ‘Rangers’ support were as confident as they’ve been of beating Celtic. The press predictions to a man had the ‘Rangers’ as comfortable winners and the bookmakers had the Ibrox club as clear favourites, with Celtic pushed out to just over 2/1. I remember those odds well.
The actual biblical quote concerning pride comes from Proverbs 16:18 ‘Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.’
That quote puts a bit more meat on the bones. ‘Rangers’ haughtiness was apparent and well they were indeed only 90 minutes away from destruction.
‘Rangers’ we were told were on a 12-game unbeaten run, Neil Lennon’s side had lost their past two derbies at Ibrox and fielded a makeshift defence with Elhamed, Jullien and Bolingoli making their Derby debuts and Nir Bitton having to come into the centre of defence in the absence of Ajer. Apparently a perfect storm was brewing for our rivals.
Though Celtic already had a goal difference of plus 12 from only three games played and were already playing wonderful attacking football, our attacking threat would be nullified and our defence would be porous if you believed the pre match build up.
By full time there would be a lot more introspection from those in the media. With Neil McCann quoted at full time as saying – possibly through gritted teeth – ‘I think Celtic got their tactics spot on against Rangers (sic) today’.
By the final whistle Odsonne Edouard had netted his fifth goal in seven games against the Ibrox club scoring the opener just after the half-hour, then Jonny Hayes rolled in after a stoppage-time counter-attack to finish the encounter, before Jordan Jones was sent off for a lunge on Moritz Bauer and injured himself in the process.
Rangers had won both of last season’s Derby fixtures at Ibrox by pressing Celtic high and so energetically that Celtic had struggled to play. The opposite was true on this occasion as Lennon’s side delivered in the midfield battle.
This was evident from kick off when Edourard kicked the ball into touch near the corner flag to peg ‘the’ Rangers into their own half. Celtic weren’t here to paint pretty pictures today they were going to be in their opponent’s faces. And so it proved.
The opening goal came with Connor Goldson culpable with a dreadful pass under pressure, gifting possession to Mikey Johnston. Mikey, with a lot of work to drove forward with real purpose towards the Rangers penalty area before slipping the ball to French Eddy. Edouard strode through and his ice in veins approach saw him wait for McGregor to commit himself before gently sliding the ball under ‘the’ Rangers goalkeeper. The finish sent the 800 Celtic fans mad. Eddy took time out signal to the Ibrox fans to calm down and return their backsides back to their blue plastic seats.
In a game of few chances but tactical superiority from Celtic, both Jullien and Elhamed had chances saved by the feet of McGregor, while ‘the’ Rangers only forced Fraser Forster into one save during the whole game when he had to turn an Ojo shot round the post.
Morelos and Jones were both sent on by the Ibrox side to force the issue but to no avail and the second and final goal was to come from the unlikely source of Jonny Hayes.
Edouard and Olivier Ntcham combined brilliantly to release Hayes on the counter attack, who despite being denied at first by McGregor followed up to punch in the rebound with the ‘keeper grounded.
The Ibrox side’s misery was complete with that red card for Jones when he tried his best to injure Moritz Bauer only to leave the field limping himself.
Odsonne Edouard rightly received the man of the match award but a special mention should be made for Scott Brown who commanded the midfield and orchestrated the win. He was at his imperious best that afternoon.
This was a huge win for Neil Lennon and a Celtic side beginning to form in his image. It was also a pivotal result for the confidence of the team and the journey to 9-in-a-row.
When it came to a haughty spirit I’d fall into much the same trap a few months down the line, but that’s for another time. For the time being it was time to celebrate, visualise a ninth successive title and allow Ladbrokes to settle the bar tab.