Rangers defender David Bates will find out on Wednesday the extent of his ankle injury after it was confirmed he had not broken a bone during Sunday’s five-goal Old Firm thriller.
The 21-year-old left Ibrox on crutches after being caught accidentally by Celtic’s Tom Rogic as the midfielder curled the ball past Wes Foderingham to make it 1-1.
Fears that Bates had broken his ankle in the 3-2 home loss were soon allayed and he will undergo a scan. The former Raith Rovers defender faces a race against time to be fit for the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Sunday April 15.
Rangers defender David Bates will find out on Wednesday the extent of his ankle injury
‘David is going to have a scan on his ankle, but he has not broken it,’ confirmed Rangers boss Graeme Murty.
‘It is a freak injury. He stepped to the ball and tried to make a block and the ball flicked off his shin, which took it out of Foderingham’s grasp. As Rogic had the shot, he came down on David’s ankle.
‘It looked a nasty one at the time and David is obviously upset but we won’t know the extent of it until we have it scanned.
‘He has got a very fat ankle and we are very disappointed for him. We are taking our time to make sure we get the assessment done properly and get a proper prognosis and a timescale in due course. We don’t know how long we have lost him for.’
Murty was angry with the errors his side made on Sunday and was left ‘incredulous’ at striker Alfredo Morelos hitting the post from four yards with the goal gaping, missing a glorious chance to rescue a point against ten-man Celtic.
However the Ibrox boss admits he may have been too hard on his side after they improved from being rated ‘the worst Rangers team of all time’ to pushing the Scottish champions close under his watch.
It was confirmed Bates had not broken a bone during Sunday’s five-goal Old Firm thriller
‘I was really down after the game and really down on us because we had let that opportunity slip,’ Murty told RangersTV.
‘I was really down on our tempo, our passing of the ball and the goals we conceded, but since watching the game back and looking at it, there is lots I have to be positive about and there is lots we can enhance and get better at.
‘For the width of a goalpost, I am sitting here with a smile on my face, but we know that when we are playing against people of that quality, we can’t afford to give them easy opportunities like we did.
‘Let’s not forget the first game I took charge of against Celtic we were touted as the worst Rangers team ever and we were going to get beaten 8-0 – so we have come a distance. We are closer to them than we were but the disappointment will come from that sense of having an opportunity and letting it go.
‘We must also identify the things we did really well that we can go and exploit in the semi-final.’
The 21-year-old left Ibrox on crutches after being caught accidentally by Celtic’s Tom Rogic
Former Ibrox defender Gregory Vignal, meanwhile, believes Rangers youngsters can take great encouragement from players such as Bates stepping up from the club’s youth system to the first team.
The Frenchman, who enjoyed a league and cup-winning season on loan at Ibrox in 2004-05, has returned to the club to work as an academy coach.
Vignal insists seeing young players such as Bates and Ross McCrorie progress this season is an obvious source of motivation for those at lower age levels.
‘When I used to play for Rangers, I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the academy,’ added Vignal. ‘But you see now that the academy and the first team work closer together.
‘We have had a few young boys round training with the first team and that is great for their development.
‘The young players see some of their team-mates getting to work with the first-team squad and it gives everyone a lift. They can see they can get there as well. We have a lot of good young players but they have to keep working hard every day.
‘It is good the way the academy is right now and, hopefully, we can see a few young boys making into the first team next season.’
Gregory Vignal believes Rangers youngsters can take encouragement from players like Bates
The 36-year-old Frenchman can number former Liverpool managers Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez among the influences on his own playing career and he also formed a strong working relationship with then Rangers boss Alex McLeish in his season at Ibrox.
He believes he can bring a different perspective to his Scottish counterparts at Auchenhowie when it comes to shaping potential stars of the future.
‘I was 19 when I went to Liverpool from Montpellier,’ Vignal reflected. ‘I worked with Gerard Houllier, Phil Thompson and Sammy Lee and I learned a lot from them.
‘Even when Rafa Benitez came in for pre-season, I was very impressed by the way he used to manage things and his training was always very good.
‘I learned a lot from some top managers and I think that can help me in my own coaching career. I previously coached in France and the way we work there is different to the way it works in Scotland.
‘I am hoping to bring some new ideas that I have learned in France with me here and help some of the younger boys develop. But I will keep them just for the people at the club.’
Gregory Vignal was promoting Rangers Lotto, which has already contributed £8,000 to the club’s youth development in 2018. See www.rangerslotto.co.uk for details.
LONDON (Reuters) – Celtic twice came from behind and played the last half-hour with 10 men to beat Rangers 3-2 in a pulsating Glasgow derby at Ibrox and increase their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Soccer Football – Scottish Premiership – Rangers vs Celtic – Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain – March 11, 2018 Rangers’ Bruno Alves in action with Celtic’s Moussa Dembele REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Brendan Rodgers’ side moved nine points clear with a game in hand. Their fierce rivals are in second place. Rangers have now failed to beat Celtic in nine meetings.
They appeared well on their way to ending that run after taking a third-minute lead through Josh Windass, and then retaking it through Daniel Candeias after Tom Rogic equalised.
They were then left facing 10 men when Jozo Simunovic was sent off for a stray elbow on 57 minutes after Moussa Dembele had levelled just before halftime.
But Celtic made light of his dismissal and grabbed a winner through a 69th-minute piece of individual excellence from Frenchman Odsonne Edouard two minutes after coming on as substitute.
Soccer Football – Scottish Premiership – Rangers vs Celtic – Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain – March 11, 2018 Celtic’s Scott Brown celebrates after the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Even then there was more drama, with Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos somehow missing from two yards out on 88 minutes.
“It was a brilliant, brilliant win,” said Rodgers, who is now unbeaten in nine Old Firm derbies since arriving in 2016.
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“It was an immense performance considering we went behind early. It was an incredible football match to be involved in. We were the better footballing side.”
The game had been billed as an opportunity for Rangers, buoyed by a fine run of victories, to prove they were capable of preventing Celtic securing their seventh successive title.
But they failed to match the visitors’ composure, with Rangers manager Graeme Murty admitting his side came up short.
“We were punished for not doing the basics very well,” he said. “We did not show enough quality or composure or tempo with the ball. At the top level there are fine margins. You have to be clinical. They managed it, we didn’t.”
Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Pritha Sarkar
Former Aberdeen and Scotland defender Willie Miller: “It looked as if Rangers had the upper hand, but Celtic showed their grit, determination, quality and class in the end.
“They were very good in the second half and to dig out victory with 10 men was something special.
“You need players with belief and confidence – and that is the difference. The Celtic players have that; the Rangers players don’t have it yet.
“They may cheer in the dressing-room [when they drew Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-finals] and think ‘right, we’re going to take Celtic on’, but it is just bravado until they actually start getting results and beating Celtic.
“Celtic have that inner confidence. I am sure they took everything the Rangers players and management said beforehand into the dressing room and said ‘let’s just show them’ – and they have. They have done it with 10 men.
“Brendan Rodgers may have raised a few eyebrows when he brought Edouard on, but they went to a shape that suited them – three at the back, four in the middle, two up front. It was a really bold move from the manager and it worked impeccably.
“I thought Scott Brown was absolutely magnificent in the last 20-25 minutes, when it called for someone special to take control and calm everything down, be in the right place at the right time and play the captain’s role.
“That was what he did. He was under a lot of intimidation but he kept his head throughout. He grew into the game when he was required to.
“Rangers have to be disappointed because, if they had won, there would have been a challenge on. But, when you take the lead twice and your opponents go down to 10 men, you have got to take a critical view and say ‘we have not been good enough’.”
‘The championship is over now’
Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner: “Rangers had a shaft of light to try to challenge for the championship in this game. But that Morelos miss at the end means Celtic win the game and the championship is over now, it is finished.
“[Celtic goalkeeper] Scott Bain will be absolutely delighted even though he has lost two goals. To come into the fixture and make a brilliant save at the end, I thought he did very well.
“He got a hand to it [Josh Windass’ shot], low across his body, he pushed it away and then is hoping for a bit of luck. He got it and was then up quickly to reach the ball close to the line.
“In that last 20 minutes, Celtic defended well as a group, the best they have defended for a while. But Rangers just didn’t have enough about them to create anything.”
‘Morelos simply has to score’
Former Rangers striker Steven Thompson: “There are possibly no words to describe the miss from Alfredo Morelos.
“In a game of that magnitude, you simply have to score. I have a small degree of sympathy with him because I missed sitters in my career and there is nothing worse.
“He will be replaying that moment for a very long time in the back of his head. It is a tough one for him to take, but he absolutely has to score.
“Rangers will be disappointed in the last 20 minutes. No matter how imperious Scott Brown was, or how well Celtic have defended, Rangers didn’t do enough with the extra man.
“For a team that have been scoring so often for the last few weeks, they just didn’t break down Celtic.
“There were a lot of poor deliveries in wide areas. They just didn’t have that spark.”
Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic captain Scott Brown dismissed talk of Rangers challenging for the Scottish title after his side twice trailed and played more than 30 minutes a man short yet won 3-2 at Ibrox on Sunday.
Substitute Odsonne Edouard‘s winner for the 10 men, 21 minutes from time opened up a nine-point lead over Rangers. Celtic also have a game in hand at the top of the table as they close in on a seventh straight Premiership title.
“We’ve come here four times and won four games, so we believe we can win here all the time now,” said Brown, afer Celtic ended a Rangers six-game winning run that had sparked suggestions of an unlikely title challenge.
“They did a lot of talking beforehand – we stayed quiet. We usually do our talking on the park.”
Rangers’ wait for a first league win over Celtic since 2012 continues, but they looked set to stretch their recent fine run when they twice went in front through Josh Windass and Daniel Candeias in the first-half.
Rangers failed to hold either lead for long as first Tom Rogic and then Moussa Dembele equalised. The hosts failed to exploit Jozo Simunovic’s red card just before the hour mark before Edouard came off the bench to score the winner.
“It’s incredibly tough,” said Rangers manager Graeme Murty. “We were punished by not doing the basics very well.”
– ‘Immense performance’ –
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers were forced to hand a debut to goalkeeper Scott Bain due to a late injury picked up by Dorus de Vries, and the replacement played a big part in helping the champions seal a record fourth straight win at Ibrox.
“It feels great,” Rodgers said after the victory. “It was an immense performance considering we went behind very early in the game.”
“You can see the intensity in the stadium today. It was an incredible football match to be involved in.”
Bain’s first involvement was to pick the ball out of his net after a terrible error by Dedryck Boyata, who gifted possession to Windass. The Rangers winger strode forward before blasting his 17th goal of the season.
Rangers’ early joy lasted just eight minutes as Rogic replied in spectacular fashion, curling into the top corner from 25 yards.
Rangers quickly reestablished their lead thanks to more poor Celtic defending.
Declan John’s low cross evaded a host of bodies and fell for Candeias to fire home at the far post.
Again Celtic responded brightly and Wes Fotheringham was forced into brilliant saves to deny Dembele and Callum McGregor.
The visitor’s pressure paid off in first-half stoppage time when Dembele rounded off a frantic half by lobbing Fotheringham for his sixth goal in eight games against Rangers.
After a brief lull after the break, Rangers seemed to have been handed the upper hand once more when Simunovic was shown a straight red card for what the referee’s assistant deemed to be an elbow on Morelos.
However, despite their numerical advantage, Rangers were caught cold by a clinical Celtic counter-attack.
Edouard had only been on the field two minutes before he collected Dembele’s layoff and then cut inside to curl high into the far corner.
In contrast to their defending earlier in the game, Celtic’s 10 men largely soaked up Rangers’ pressure trouble free.
But they were enjoyed a huge let off two minutes from time when Bain saved Windass’s low effort and Morelos somehow turned the rebound onto the post with the goal gaping from point-blank range.
Celtic will face Rangers in the semifinals of the Scottish Cup.
The Glasgow rivals were drawn together after Rangers reached the last four with a 4-1 victory over Falkirk at Ibrox.
Rangers coach Graeme Murty said his players cheered when they discovered they had landed Celtic in the draw.
“The sound that came out of the changing room when we were drawn against Celtic was vast,” said Murty, who hopes his side can close to within three points of the champions when they clash in the Premiership next weekend.
“The boys loved it, and that shows the mood they’re in, the positivity that’s going through the changing room and the upturn in our mindset that we’re relishing the challenge of pushing on and being better than we were.”
Murty has recorded two Parkhead draws in two Old Firm derbies as manager.
And, having watched Rangers score 23 goals over their last six games, he believes there is scope for them to go on the attack both next week and at Hampden.
“The mindset going into the games at Parkhead were that we had to contain them at times but not be afraid to play our football at times,” Murty said. “I think it’s going to be the same for us here, albeit we might be a bit more aggressive in our selection or the way we’re going to play.
“I think you have to be respectful towards their difference-makers and their skill players but you have to try to contain those guys and then not be afraid to unleash the guys that pose a threat for us.”
Motherwell’s reward for a 2-1 win over Hearts is a Hampden meeting with the winners of the replay between Kilmarnock and Aberdeen at Rugby Park.
The cup semifinals will be played on the weekend of April 14 and April 15.
Assistant manager Keith Lasley was diplomatic when asked whether Motherwell had got the draw they wanted.
“The way Rangers are playing at the moment and obviously the consistency Celtic have shown, then possibly, but you have still got to go and win the game,” Lasley, whose side have beaten six Premiership opponents in the cups this season, told BBC Radio Scotland.
“Kilmarnock came to our place a couple of weeks ago and beat us, and we have had tough games against Aberdeen. On paper, it possibly looks like an easier tie than any of the Old Firm, but you have still got to go there on the day and give your best. But if we do that, we feel capable of getting to the final, no doubt.”