Malik Tillman had an off day while Cameron Carter-Vickers showed why he is the best center-back in the Scottish Premiership as Celtic scored late to share the points with Rangers in another thrilling Glasgow derby.
Rangers 2-2 Celtic
Celtic was able to maintain their nine-point lead on Rangers as a goal late in the second half saw them escape with a point at Ibrox Stadium.
It wasn’t one of the best outings for Malik Tillman as he went on to complete 58 percent of his passes, win six duels and take two shots in 85 minutes of playing time. James Sands replaced his American compatriot, completing 80 percent of his passes, winning two duels and making a tackle in his 12 minutes on the field. On the other side, Cameron Carter-Vickers was a workhorse for Celtic as he completed 89 percent of his passes, won six duels, and blocked two shots in his 90-plus minutes of action.
Rangers were playing their first derby under head coach Michael Beale following the firing of Giovanni van Bronckhorst, and they were hoping to put on a strong showing against their bitter rivals.
However, it would be the defending league champions that took the lead after five minutes of play. Alfredo Morelos’ poor pass allowed Daizen Maeda to intercept the ball and make a mad dash into the area to slot his shot past goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
The visitors dominated the opening stages of the game as Rangers found it hard to string any passes together. The Light Blues did shows signs of improvement as they finally started to challenge Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart. Ryan Kent had the best of the chances when his shot from the edge of the area forced the former England netminder into a save that saw the ball come off the woodwork.
The hosts finally got on the scoreboard just seconds into the restart when McGregor’s long ball from back found Fashion Sakala who then charged forward before passing it on to Kent to get his shot past Hart and the Ibrox faithful rocking in the stands.
The momentum had clearly shifted to Rangers as they pressed for more goals.
They would be awarded a chance to take the lead minutes later when the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty. Sakala was brought down in the area following a tackle from Carl Starfelt. James Tavernier stepped to put away the spot-kick.
Falling behind forced Celtic to make changes as they brought on more attacking players. That move would leave them exposed in the back and Rangers nearly made them pay for a few times.
One instance occurred before Tillman was subbed off when Rangers went on a counter-attack led by Kent. The Englishman passed the ball to the German-American midfielder to have a go at the goal, but all 6-1 of Carter-Vickers stretched out to make a crucial block to keep Celtic a goal down.
The visitors have been known to score late goals through the course of this season and they made sure of it again as Kyogo Furuhashi was on the spot to level the score and stun the Rangers supporters. The ball seemed to ping off a number of legs before it was left for the Japanese international to slam home in the 88th minute.
Rangers will rue this moment as they were comfortable in their lead and should have come away with the three points. However, Celtic seem to always find a way to get the last word.
The Hoops remain nine points ahead of their Glasgow rivals.
Elsewhere in the Scottish Premiership, Christian Ramirez got a rare start for Aberdeen as he played 63 minutes in their 0-0 draw with Ross County.
Ian Harkes went the distance for Dundee United in their 1-0 win over St. Johnstone.
In the Championship, Brian Schwake and Greenock Morton will have to wait anther day to play Ayr United as their game was postponed due the playing field being frozen.
Down in League One, Emmanuel Johnson came off the bench to play garbage time for FC Edinburgh as they powered their way past Airdrieonians for a 5-3 victory.