Rangers Triumphant As Neil Lennon Self-Destructs
By Southside Johnny
Updated Saturday, 20th August 2005
Rangers 3 (Prso 33, Buffel 50, Novo 87 Pen) Celtic 1 (Maloney 85 Pen)Rangers secured victory in the opening 'Old Firm'
fixture of the season with a 3-1 win over Celtic at
Ibrox this afternoon - but it was a game when Celtic,
having been comprehensively outplayed, yet again took
defeat with their customary good grace, and when
Parkhead captain Neil Lennon self-destructed, being
red-carded after the final whistle for foul and
abusive language towards Referee Stuart Dougal.
Manager Alex McLeish made three changes from Aberdeen
with Marvin Andrews, Alex Rae and Thomas Buffel
replacing Bob Malcolm, Peter Lovenkrands and the
suspended Fernando Ricksen.
Referee Stuart Dougal had to impose his authority
early on - yellow-carding John Hartson for dissent in
the fifth minute, then eight minutes later he booked
Julien Rodriguez for a foul on Craig Beattie.
The game exploded in 22 minutes however when Alan
Thompson was red-carded for a shocking foul on Nacho
Novo - the Englishman's third ordering-off at Ibrox in
Rangers set out to take advantage of their numerical
superiority - Artur Boruc making a superb one-handed
save from a Novo shot from a long Michael Ball pass in
Three minutes later however Bobo Balde passed up a
golden opportunity to open the scoring when - with a
free header from a Shunsuke Nakamura corner - he was
Dado Prso it was however who broke the deadlock in 33
minutes, volleying home an Andrews chip for the
Rangers were controlling the game, playing fine
football against opponents who relied on the long ball
to front men Hartson and Craig Beattie, although
Nakamura came close with a thirty-yard free-kick two
minutes before the interval.
Peter Lovenkrands replaced Alex Rae at the interval as
Rangers sought to introduce more width to their play,
and within sixty seconds the Dane had an
eighteen-yards shot following a Barry Ferguson
free-kick deflected wide.
The second goal was merely delayed however - Buffel
moving on to a Lovenkrands pass and shrugging off the
presence of two Celtic defenders before coolly
slotting the ball home on fifty minutes.
The Danish International should have made it 3-0 on
the hour when released by a slide-rule Novo pass, only
to finish woefully with a weak right-foot shot that
was wide of the target.
Lovenkrands was however out of luck in 68 minutes
when, playing a one-two with Prso, he shot inches wide
of the target.
The ever-popular Neil Lennon was yellow-carded for
dissent two minutes later - disputing the award of a
corner to Rangers - indeed the Celtic captain was
fortunate to remain on the park in 82 minutes when,
having fouled Buffel he then barged him in the back
before then gesturing to the home fans.
Celtic had been comprehensively outplayed and
outclassed throughout the second-half, yet somehow
reduced the deficit in 85 minutes when substitute
Shaun Maloney netted from the penalty spot having
himself been fouled by Ian Murray as he went through
on a Stilian Petrov pass.
Any thoughts of a tense closing few minutes soon
disappeared however two minutes later when Petrov
barged Prso off the ball - Novo netting with the
resultant penalty to put Rangers 3-1 up.
The game finished in more controversy with Lennon,
ever the sportsman, squaring up to Novo.
The final whistle should have brought an end to
Lennon's madness - but he continued to abuse the
referee and was consequently red-carded by Stuart
Dougal before continuing to mouth at the referee and
then assault a linesman, conduct that will surely lead
to further disciplinary action by the authorities.
Afterwards a relaxed Alex McLeish summarised:
"I'm very happy with the win. It was a typical 'Old
Firm' game. We stretched Celtic in the second-half."
McLeish also revealed that Barry Ferguson, who
finished the game limping, was a doubt for Wednesday's
European Cup-tie with Anorthosis Famagusta with a
possible ankle ligament injury.
RANGERS Waterreus; Fanfan (Malcolm 71), Andrews,
Rodriguez, Ball; Buffel, Ferguson, A. Rae (Lovenkrands
45), Murray; Novo, Prso
UNUSED SUBS Klos, Thompson, McLean, Adam, McCormack
CELTIC Boruc; Telfer, Balde, McManus, Camara (Virgo
86); Petrov, Lennon, Nakamura (Maloney 53), Thompson;
Hartson (Zurawski 66), Beattie
UNUSED SUBS Marshall, Aliadere, Wallace, Lawson
REFEREE Stuart Dougal