Football: Celtic blame anticlimax for disorder: Rangers rampant amid unrest

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The Independent Online
Celtic . . .2

Rangers. . .4

CELTIC are likely to escape severe punishment following scenes of disorder at the Old Firm match at Celtic Park on Saturday which saw three supporters running on to the pitch and others in the main stand aiming vitriol and missiles at the directors' box.

The fourth meeting of the season between the two rivals unleashed brutal passions not seen from either set of supporters since the infamous 1980 Scottish Cup final.

The most worrying incident from Celtic's point of view was the supporter who had to be bundled to the ground by the collective efforts of John Brown, Richard Gough, the police and stewards as he ran towards Ally Maxwell, the Rangers goalkeeper.

The Scottish Football Association, which has options ranging from a fine to ground closure, awaits reports from the referee, David Syme, his supervisor, and David McLaren, the SFA security adviser, who also attended the match. But yesterday Jim Farry, the chief executive of the SFA, hinted that punishment could be lenient when he said: 'The SFA will retain a sense of balance and perspective.'

There was a heavy police presence at the game and it is likely that the governing body will appreciate that the home club did everything within its power to obviate danger.

Kevin Kelly, the Celtic chairman, said: 'It was bitterly disappointing both in terms of the result and the trouble but we hope to identify the culprits and ban them from the ground.

'We will consider whether the stewards and police might have acted more quickly and will have our own information to present to the SFA. I feel the fans' optimism then disappointment was the root of the trouble.'

Celtic were indeed victims of their own high expectations. The team had suffered just one defeat in 14 league matches and had not conceded a goal at home under Lou Macari. In contrast, Rangers have severe injury problems and have been stuttering since the start of the season, yet were three goals up within the first half hour.

Stuart McCall dissected the home defence to allow the imposing figure of Mark Hateley to run unchallenged for the first goal. A similar move saw Neil Murray burst clear and when his shot was saved Alexei Mikhailichenko followed up for a second goal with just three minutes on the clock.

The Ukrainian added a third for Rangers after 28 minutes and a fourth came in 76 minutes through Oleg Kuznetsov. John Collins raised Celtic hopes with a goal in the first minute of the second half but a second from Charlie Nicholas was no more than a consolation.

Goals: Hateley (1) 0-1; Mikhailichenko (3) 0-2; Mikhailichenko (28) 0-3; Collins (46) 1-3; Kuznetsov (76) 1-4; Nicholas (81) 2-4.

Celtic (4-4-2): Bonner; Grant, Gillespie, Wdowczyk (Biggins, 61), Boyd; Byrne, McGinlay, McStay, Collins; Nicholas, O'Neil (McNally, 51). Substitute not used: Given (gk).

Rangers (4-4-2): Maxwell; Pressley, Gough, Brown, Stevens; Steven, McCall, Murray (Kuznetsov, 70), Mikhailichenko; Durie (Huistra, 82), Hateley. Substitute not used: Scott (gk).

Referee: D Syme (Rutherglen).

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