Back to the Fixture – December 28th

Today’s Back to the Fixture is a series first, as theRangers make their debut in our newfound series. With the Glasgow Derby coming up at the weekend, we thought we’d lift spirits ahead of the tie and get you in the mood for the game, taking you time travelling back to a Christmas special in 2011…

In what was a peculiar year for Scottish Football, Celtic gave off by the biggest signs of foreshadowing yet in terms of what we were to expect for years to come.

It had been a rocky road for Celtic up until this point in the season; an ashamedly poor start to proceedings in the Scottish Premier League had culminated in a fifteen point gap developing between the Hoops’ and the top of the table, by the time Halloween came around. This was something that fans thought wouldn’t be recoverable; with theRangers having won the last three titles, it seemed like another second-placed resonance would be given off for the season.

However, fast forward to the festive period, and the Celtic Park faithful were rejoicing – a ninth straight league win on an extremely windy Paradise night was enough to send Celtic two points clear at the turn of the New Year. Maybe, just maybe, they thought; this could be their comeuppance.

It was a generally scrappy affair in the East End of Glasgow; both sides were slugging it out for top spot as per, and the horrendous winter conditions made it extremely difficult from the off. Lee Wallace hit the post, as Fraser Forster – in his second loan spell at Celtic – did as he always did and kept Rangers at bay. The first half came and went with chances few and far between: Giorgios Samaras came closest, with the Greek putting the ball on the net, only to be ruled offside by the assistant referee.

However, just seven minutes into the second half, Celtic took the lead – a brilliantly trademark in-swinging corner from Charlie Mulgrew found Joe Ledley unmarked just six yards out; and the Cardiffian glanced his header past the stunned Allan McGregor to send over 55,000 in the ground into bedlam.

It should’ve been more – Gary Hooper was sent through on goal from the Godly Greek Samaras, but annoyingly and more importantly incorrectly, was ruled offside. This set tempers flaring, and inevitably alluded to more crunching tackles, which buoyed the crowd; Anthony Stokes – Hooper’s replacement – put in the most eye-catching tackle of the bunch.

Victor Wanyama – who was signed that summer in a £1mn capture from Beerschot AC – earned the Young Player of the Month award for this period, and his performance was exemplary of his achievements; the Kenyan putting in a man of the match performance in his first Old Firm derby at Parkhead.

The events of what happened later that year will go down in Celtic folklore. Years of impetuous buying – summed up by the irritable David Murray’s “£10” line – came back to very quickly bite Rangers where they didn’t like it, and Celtic would take advantage of their immediate demotion to the fourth tier.

The Celtic team that day was: Forster, Mulgrew, Rogne, Matthews, Brown, Ledley, Kayal (Ki, 77), Wanyama, Samaras, Forrest, Hooper (Stokes, 86).

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