On This Day: Vennegoor of Hesselink scores injury time winner against Rangers

On This Day in 2008, Celtic hosted Walter Smith’s Rangers knowing that a win was needed in order to keep their title challenge alive. Rangers were 4 points clear going into the match with two games in hand; however, Celtic weren’t wiling to relinquish their title to the Ibrox side without a fight.

The game started in spectacular fashion with Barry Robson and Paul Hartley imposing themselves in the midfield as Celtic were roared forward by the Paradise support. Allan McGregor would make a smart save as Celtic carved out a series of chances from corners.

Alas, there was no breakthrough within the opening 20 minutes as Rangers defence weathered the storm. That was until the man from Japan – Shunsuke Nakamura conjured up something special.

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From 30 yards out, Nakamura took the ball from a Gary Caldwell pass and struck it with enough swerve that it flew beyond a helpless Allan McGregor. Rangers were penned in, bar a few forays up the park, but Celtic couldn’t get the elusive second goal.

Celtic went in at half-time 1-0 up but could be ruing the chances missed. Gordon Strachan definitely would be when substitute Nacho Novo pulled Rangers level after the hour mark. Despite a foul in the buildup from Daly, Novo fired the ball passed Artur Boruc, who had his angles all wrong.

Celtic would get a chance to go ahead again when Carlos Cueller handled Nakamura’s goal-bound effort resulting in a red card and a penalty. Allan McGregor saved Scott McDonald’s penalty but injured himself in the process.

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Rangers survived and set up in a defensive block, a draw was as good as a win for them. Celtic continued to push forward but as the game went on, it looked more and more as if the title was slipping away.

90 minutes were up and the injury time, for McGregor’s injury, were being eaten up by whistles from the away end. Celtic still kept going although it seemed to be in vain.

But then, Gary Caldwell controlled a knockdown from Samaras 40 yards out before floating the ball to the back post where Scott McDonald was lurking. McDonald instead of trying at the acute angle fired it back across goal where Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink awaited to nod the ball home.

A late late win that would be priceless in the run for Celtic’s third title in a row. The game ended but there were some sore losers in blue resulting in a scuffle as Celtic celebrated pulling the title back within reach.

About Author

Born just as Celtic were stopping the Ten, Lubo98 follows Celtic home and away and helps run his local Celtic Supporters Club. He goes to all the games and is a Law Graduate. Has a particular fondness for Tom Rogic among the current Celts and both Lubo and Henrik form his earliest Celtic memories.

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