Glasgow Rangers failed to capitalise on a much improved second-half performance and secure all three points against Celtic in this afternoon’s New Year derby after conceding a late equaliser at Ibrox.
As a result, the side remains nine points behind in the Scottish Premiership title race following a highly competitive 2-2 draw.
Michael Beale was taking charge of the Ibrox side for the first time in an Old Firm clash and the first-half performance was as poor as the club had been in his previous four matches having just 40% possession during the opening 45 minutes and conceding the opener after some woeful defending early on.
Whatever Beale said in the changing room at half-time clearly worked, as goals from Ryan Kent and James Tavernier within six minutes after the interval gave the club a 2-1 lead. The players were much more confident, taking the game to Celtic and thriving on the atmosphere generated by the boisterous home crowd.
Unfortunately, a late equaliser meant the points were shared. A rather unfit-looking Alfredo Morelos was disappointing, missing two big chances, making just 17 passes, and squandering possession eight times, however, Malik Tillman was a shadow of what he has been recently.
Against Motherwell in his last outing, Tillman found the back of the net while playing two key passes in a lively performance but against Celtic this afternoon, he couldn’t get his creative juices flowing.
Obviously the step-up in quality of the opposition proved to be a stumbling block, but his talent means he should still be performing well enough against the likes of the Hoops.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen today; he received a Sofascore rating of just 6.1/10, the lowest of the Rangers’ starting XI, and played just 11 passes, fewer than Allan McGregor (17), during his 85 minutes on the pitch.
The 20-year-old managed three shots, yet only hit the target once, failed with all three of his dribble attempts, and made zero key passes.
He was even poor defensively, being dribbled past five times, winning just six of his 19 duels, and losing possession a staggering 17 times – once every 2.4 touches – proving his ability in the big games is something that let him down today.
The youngster is still raw and this is his first full season of senior football so it is unfair to expect an excellent performance in every single game. The club brought him in on loan, however, so that he could influence matches against Celtic and showcase his talent.
It wasn’t to be today but with a tie against Dundee United on Sunday, there isn’t any time to think about it and the players will need to be focused heading into another tough game.