Kyogo Furuhashi equalized in the 88th minute to save Celtic from a 2-2 draw in Monday’s Old Firm derby, keeping the Hoopes in the Scottish Premier League lead by nine points.
The Rangers were well on their way to a well-deserved victory that would have breathed life into the championship race, but towards the end, the visiting team pulled out a decisive advantage.
Daizen Maeda initially gave Celtic the lead, but Rangers soon established dominance and established themselves well after a quick brace from Ryan Kent and James Tavernier early in the second half.
But when the Rangers seemed to be heading towards a potentially life-saving victory, Kyogo aggressively finished from close range to stun the fans and save the point.
If it wasn’t for a defensive error, the Rangers wouldn’t be lagging behind at all.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) January 2, 2023
A blind pass from Alfredo Morelos to the center was picked up by Maeda, who saddled a weak challenge from Tavernier and slipped past Connor Goldson before hitting the target.
Morelos then made a mistake by Joe Hart that sent Kent into the post from the edge of the box, seemingly reviving the Rangers.
They ended the half with a hat-trick with Morelos chances, and their positive attitude paid off early in the second period when Kent scored beautifully into the top right corner.
Fashion Sakala, who also played the role of equalizer, then lured Karl Starfelt into a clumsy foul in the box, with Tavernier converting a penalty.
However, this was not enough to win.
The ball favored Furuhashi after a late late pass miss, and he scored a goal that many would feel ended Gers’ title hopes.
What does this mean? Rangers left destitute, Celtic spared themselves
A Rangers victory here could have made a huge difference. First, the points deficit could be reduced to six.
Of course, the big two don’t lose many points in Scotland, but it’s clear that the Rangers would have had much better prospects – and Michael Beal would have become the first Gers boss since Ally McCoist in September 2011 to win his first match for the Old firm.”
But it’s hard to look further than Furuhashi’s checkered flag equalizer. It will take something special from Rangers – or extremely bad from Celtic – to keep Ange Postecoglou’s side from winning the title from here.
Furuhashi warns when it’s important
For the most part, Furuhashi was anonymous here. Not quite on it, because there weren’t many serves, especially in the second half, but still it’s worth saying.
His tally of 14 touches was the lowest of any starter, with just seven passes and only one shot. And yet, he was there at the right moment at the end.
Sakala stands high
His game was certainly not perfect, but Sakala clearly deserves credit for his efficiency. He equalized Kent’s score, and then won a penalty, from which Tavernier made the score 2:1 – it could not be more decisive.
Rangers will travel to Dundee United on Sunday, while Celtic will host Kilmarnock the day before.