5 Rangers speakers as Fashion Sakala steps up in Celtic draw
From the moment Joe Hart saved Ryan Kent’s shot in the first minute, Celtic dominated the first half. And over five minutes it was a disaster for Rangers with a gifted opener for Daizen Maeda.
Alfredo Morelos played a horror blind pass on the Japanese striker who passed a weak tackle from James Tavernier before going past Connor Goldson and slipping into the bottom corner.
It was an abysmal streak for Rangers and Michael Beale and his supporters will be mostly concerned that the hosts are unable to do the basics in the first 45 minutes filled with basic errors from both sides.
Fortunately, there would only be a one-goal deficit left as Rangers rallied to return to contention in the closing stages. Morelos should have redeemed himself with a leveler but wasted in front of goal.
Everything Michael Beale said in the meantime worked. His side looked well off the pace and out of luck as away title hopes faded without a trace.
But within 45 seconds, Rangers were a completely different team; committed, determined and full of quality – for the most part.
Ryan Kent and Fashion Sakala were electric and the energy provided after Kent’s opener only increased the work rate and desire within Rangers’ ranks in the second half.
It looked like there would be, against all odds in the first half, only one winner after a team talk from Beale. The Ibrox boss had spoken of a great second half which shows the true quality in Rangers’ ranks.
Despite this, Celtic were relentless and grabbed a leveler with three minutes remaining as a time lapse in the box allowed Kyogo to pounce.
READ MORE: Rangers vs Celtic snap stat report as Kyogo strikes late
BACK IN FASHION
Fashion Sakala was perhaps a surprise inclusion in Rangers training at Ibrox. It may have even raised a few more eyebrows when he trudged back to start the second half after a tough 45-minute opener.
However, Sakala was in inspired form in the second half and was a driving force in the Rangers side to force Celtic back in a standout performance. He battled against Greg Taylor in the first half but found his real joy against Josip Juranovic who substituted for his injured team-mate after 20 minutes.
It was Sakala’s incisive run that created the opening goal as he fed Kent down the left side of the box. And soon after, Sakala was back to dash into the box before being brought down by Carl Starfelt allowing James Tavernier to fly into the top corner.
It would be a surprise to see Sakala on the bench in the future, he has surely worked his way into Beale’s plans.
RYAN KENT PERFORMS
Ryan Kent’s shot in the opening seconds of the game signaled his intent and it looked like he would be the man to make or break the game for Rangers.
So many of the Ibrox players got the day off in the first half and Kent wasn’t thrilled, but there was still a feeling he could be influential if he received more of the ball as he went on. as the match progressed.
Kent is often criticized for his production, and particularly in big games, but he has stepped up when needed at Ibrox. Given a second-half goal sight and Kent expertly curled into the far corner past desperate Joe Hart in the Celtic goal. It was a hugely taken goal and highlighted the £7million player Kent always is when he’s at the top of his game.
With just six months remaining on his contract, Kent could be ready to move on this summer, but his celebration after reaching the leveler showed his commitment to the cause this season.
READ MORE: Rangers 2-2 Celtic: 5 major talking points from Ibrox assessed
TITLE RACE UNDERWAY?
It started at nine points, seemed to turn into a surely insurmountable 12, was as low as six but ended up staying exactly the same.
The title race ended as Celtic quickly took the lead from Rangers, were back with Rangers en route to victory, but came back from an embarrassing nine-point gap with Kyogo’s late equaliser.
There’s no doubt Michael Beale would have thought Rangers would have a remarkable league comeback had his side held their own – but a draw doesn’t end the league like a contest.
Make no mistake, Celtic are still in control of their lead, but with 18 games still to play – and two against Celtic – a lot can change at the summit of the Scottish Premiership.