Steven Gerrard was left red-faced after a squad of first-team fringe players fell behind 4-0 in the first half of a closed-door friendly against the Liverpool U-23 side.
While Rangers came back in the second half to secure a 4-4 draw, Gerrard will use the opening 45 minutes to weed out some players who are struggling. “First half was an embarrassment and the second half was fantastic,” Gerrard said of the match. “It was a very useful exercise for different reasons but in terms of us as staff, we learnt so much about the players individually.”
The former Liverpool star said that he was frustrated by the players he felt needed game time, but praised four young teenagers who came on for the second half and turned the game around. While officially the players were unnamed, reports on social media say Dapo Mebude, Kai Kennedy, Josh McPake, and Glenn Middleton – all 17 or 18 years old – came on for the second half and made an impact, with Mebude scoring a brace plus goals from McPake and Middleton to lead the comeback.
When asked about the purpose for holding the match, Gerrard explained that fitness was a key component, but admitted that some first-team players were participants in the first-half drubbing. “Well I think it’s a few different reasons really,” Gerrard said to the club’s official video channel. “The first was to give people game-time who haven’t played as much. We want to try and keep them as sharp and as fit as possible for the run-in. And the other reason was to have a look at some young talent that had been doing really well in the Reserves or the 18s and give them an opportunity to be around the first-team lads and see how they can cope playing against good players at Ibrox.”
Gerrard said that he learned a lot from the match, which could be ominous for the players who were on the field in the first 45 minutes. “It was a very useful game. I probably learned more in that 90 minutes about the players than I have done all season because it was a game of two halves.”
Rangers sit second in the Scottish Premiership table, nine points behind rivals Celtic with four matches to go. Liverpool’s U-23 side has the chance to finish as high as second in the Premier League 2 table with one match remaining, behind Everton who was already confirmed as champions.
Old Firm Derby matches always carry intrigue, but this one carried that from moment one to the final whistle.
James Forrest’s 86th minute goal rescued Neil Lennon’s Celtic from what would’ve been an embarrassing draw against their 10-man rivals Rangers at Celtic Park.
It would’ve been a banner day for Rangers under Steven Gerrard, who weathered a red card to Alfredo Morelos to find an equalizer.
Odsonne Eduoard had a goal and an assist for Celtic, who now lead the table by 13 points.
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The Bhoys, looking to avenge a first Old Firm loss in ages, went ahead through Edouard in the 27th minute and looked to be in fine shape once Morelos earned his fifth (!!!) red card of the season four minutes later when he threw an elbow into Scott Brown.
But absolutely shocking defense from Celtic allowed Rangers to equalize through Ryan Kent, who scored the winner at the Ibrox, with the visitors’ first shot attempt of the match.
The ending was insane. Eduoard set up Forrest for the winner, a composed finish given the atmosphere, but Rangers kept coming forward.
Celtic cleared a goal mouth scramble wide through Kristoffer Ajer, and goalkeeper Scott Bain rescued the ensuing corner.
It all kicked off after the match, with James Tavernier, Bain, Kent, and Scott Brown at the heart of an on-field, post-whistle shoving match.
Here’s the winner.
Celtic clinched its 49th Scottish Premiership title with a 5-0 shellacking of rivals Rangers last season, and can come a lot closer to adding No. 50 with a home Old Firm Derby triumph on Sunday.
It’s the first time that Celtic will be seeking to avoid back-to-back losses to Rangers in ages after Steven Gerrard‘s hosts evened the season’s series with a 1-0 defeat of Celtic at the Ibrox Stadium on Dec. 29.
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Celtic have a 10-point lead on Rangers through 30 matches of league play, and are hoping to sew up an eighth-straight title as quickly as possible.
To take another step while getting revenge against Gerrard and Rangers would be special. This is especially true after Gerrard shot down the idea of Celtic Park being an impactful venue. From Sky Sports:
“I’ve never seen fans win a football match, it will be loud but it won’t be a lion’s den. A lion’s den is when four lions jump over a cage and you fear for your life. You have to thrive in this atmosphere. If any of my players don’t fancy it they are at the wrong club.”
On the other sideline is Neil Lennon, overseeing his first Old Firm match since 2012. Celtic has three wins and a draw since Lennon took the reins from Brendan Rodgers, who took the manager’s chair at Leicester City.
Lennon spent 2000-07 as a player with Celtic, winning five titles, and managed the club to two league crowns during 2010-14. He went 6W-2D-4L against Rangers as Celtic boss, and would love to turn his interim manager title into the full-time gig.
Oddly, he claims the job won’t hang on this match. From the Scottish Daily Record:
“It’ll be whole package over the three months I’ll have been in charge. There is a lot of speculation surrounding that, but that’s all it is. Speculation and conjecture and I’ve obviously taken no notice of it.”
USMNT midfielder Maurice Edu formally announced his retirement on Monday with a clever animated video paying homage to his family and career.
The video uses Kanye West’s “All the Lights” before ending with a clever nod to Notorious B.I.G. and an inspirational message.
Edu last played in 2017, appearing in three matches for the Philadelphia Union’s USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel.
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The 46-times capped Edu turns 33 next month and played with Toronto FC before moving overseas to Rangers in Scotland, where he scored a famous stoppage time goal in the Old Firm.
And infamously, Edu had a goal controversially ruled offside at the 2010 World Cup.
Injuries followed him the rest of his career, as Edu had trouble staying on the field in stints with Stoke City, Bursaspor, and Philadelphia. He won three league titles and three cups while in Glasgow.
Edu is now a broadcaster on UEFA Champions League coverage in the United States.
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) United States defender Matt Polster has joined Scottish club Rangers from the Chicago Fire.
The 25-year-old Polster has signed a 2+-year deal with the Glasgow club, which is managed by former England captain Steven Gerrard.
Rangers is second in the league, three points behind Glasgow rival Celtic, which has U.S. forward Timothy Weah on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.
Polster made his debut for the United States in a 0-0 draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina in January 2018. It is his only appearance so far for the national team.
Polster is the latest American to play for Rangers after DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu and Claudio Reyna.