Celtic unscathed, VAR, debut verdict: 3 things we learned as Bhoys draw vs Rangers

By John McGinley

January 2, 2023

Celtic have drawn 2-2 with Rangers in the Scottish Premiership this afternoon, maintaining a nine-point lead at the top of the table.

Ange Postecoglou’s Bhoys found themselves ahead in the match through a superb early Daizen Maeda effort but the Ibrox side turned things around to hold a lead for the majority of the second half. Kyogo Furuhashi rescued the point with a late close-range effort, preventing a win Micheal Beale’s team badly needed.

It was a typically tense and dramatic ninety minutes, but what are the big takeaways from the encounter? Here are three…

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Celtic leave Ibrox unscathed despite throwing away a lead

It’s fair to say Postecoglou’s team were entirely in control for a good chunk of the first half following Maeda’s opener, which came as a result of slack Rangers play.

Celtic’s passing, movement and intent were all pretty impressive before a Joe Hart error invited Rangers pressure and gave them a route back into the game before the interval, albeit they missed their chances.

The way the Bhoys threw away this commanding position, especially in a calamitous few minutes after half-time that Josip Juranovic would like to forget, was deeply frustrating. For a spell, it looked like this could have been a damaging day.

But the headline is that, ultimately, Celtic have not been beaten and hold on to an incredibly strong lead at the top of the Premiership. We were far from at our best today and yet could not be beaten.

More VAR concerns

Plenty of Celtic supporters will feel aggrieved at the use of VAR technology today as a potential Connor Goldson handball in the box wasn’t even given to referee John Beaton to check on the sideline.

Goldson had his arms up to prevent a shot getting through the Rangers defence, it’s the kind of decision we’ve seen given consistently in Scottish football since the technology was introduced.

However, the check was completed without even referring to Beaton, with Willie Collum seemingly convinced it wasn’t a penalty despite many – including the Sky Sports pundits – raising an eyebrow.

It’s undoubtedly a talking point for many fans this afternoon.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Alistair Johnston debut and defensive strengths

Johnston was really thrown into the fire today with his Celtic debut. It’s a tough ask to perform at Ibrox without ever playing for the Bhoys previously but the Canadian international acquitted himself well.

He was up and down the pitch in the first half, trying his best to combine with James Forrest in the opposition half and rarely troubled defensively.

In the second half he helped lockdown the right side of the pitch, while Rangers found joy on Celtic’s left flank through Juranovic and Carl Starfelt.

Cameron Carter-Vickers also stepped up to excel after half-time. Both he and Johnston can consider this a job well done. Fans will certainly be looking forward to seeing more of Johnston over the coming weeks.

In other news, Report: Celtic schedule talks for red-hot Danish forward.