That Shaun Maloney’s screamer against Rangers at Celtic Park

A screamer from Shaun dumps derby rivals as Celts blast into a Hampden semi-final…

In midweek, there was a chance for Gordon Strachan’s Celtic to seek revenge for the August League defeat at Ibrox, the Glasgow sides drawn together at the quarter-final stage of the League Cup for the second successive season, curiously as had happened with Falkirk in the previous round. The Hoops manager went with the following team.

Artur Boruc: Paul Telfer, Bobo Balde, Stephen McManus & Mo Camara: Shunsuke Nakamura, Stan Petrov, Neil Lennon & Aiden McGeady: John Hartson & Shaun Maloney.

The corresponding fixture at Ibrox 12 months earlier had seen Celts lose 2-1, Martin O’Neill’s fourth and final attempt to win a second League Cup ending in failure, despite his side leading as the game entered its closing stages. This year, the Hoops would have home advantage, and they took it, Shaun Maloney’s incredible 30-yard drive on the half-hour ripping past a badly-positioned Stefan Klos to put Celtic 1-0 up.

The German keeper had been a teammate of Paul Lambert as their Borussia Dortmund side beat holders Juventus to win a first Champions League title in Munich, back in 1997. However, this would be a night for him to forget.

After Greek defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos had been shown a second yellow card then a red, for sarcastically applauding referee Kenny Clark, Klos seemed more intent on watching the fearsome Bobo Balde charging towards him than dealing with Shunsuke Nakamura’s teasing cross, the ball hitting the distracted keeper before rolling over the line to finish the game as a contest with eight minutes remaining.

09/11/05 CIS CUP QUARTER FINAL CELTIC V RANGERS (2-0)

The final whistle blew shortly afterwards, with the old ground shaking to the sound of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, and Celtic in the last four of the League Cup. A jubilant Gordon Strachan revealed after the match that he had spoken with Maloney at the interval.

“He wasn’t at his best in the first half. He told me at half time that he could play better than this and I said, “you’re right.” His goal was fantastic, but I am expecting a bit more and he gave it.”

And the Celtic manager’s overall impressions following his first victory over Rangers?

“We had to work incredibly hard at times to win the ball out there. We stayed above the often-scary atmosphere, in terms of how you expect an Old Firm tie to be played. The result is first and foremost but to play like that is an added bonus and we’re feeling good about ourselves.”

His old friend Alex McLeish was coming under increasing pressure, as the results continued to be poor.

“I don’t quit easily. It’s not easy at the moment but we’ll keep soldiering on. Our discipline has been good, so I was disappointed to lose Sotorios Kyrgiakos. It made it difficult for us. I need to have an explanation. I understand he was sent off for dissent, but we will deal with that internally because you can’t afford to lose guys like Sotorios.

“They are dropping like flies at the moment and we also lost Julien Rodriguez to injury out there. It could be damage to his calf, or a bone injury. Once we see the scans in the morning, I’ll be able to tell you further.”

Whilst Celtic’s win had been widely predicted, the other three quarter-final ties went against the form book. Livingston and Dunfermline Athletic were struggling at the foot of the table, but they upset the odds by defeating Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Hibernian respectively at home, whilst Motherwell also defeated a team above them in the League, Jimmy Calderwood’s Aberdeen, by 1-0 at Fir Park. The Steelmen would now be Celtic’s semi-final opponents at Hampden in the new year.

Hail Hail,

Matt Corr

An extract from Majic, Stan and The King of Japan – the brilliant new book from Matt Corr, available now from Celtic Star Books. Order your signed and personalised copy HERE.

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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