Celtic met Rangers surprisingly early on in the proceedings of the Scottish Cup this season being drawn at home against their rivals in the third round. Celtic lined up in O’Neill’s favoured 3-5-2 formation with Agathe and Thompson playing as wingbacks on the right and left respectively.
Celtic enjoyed the “lion’s share of possession”- Rangers’ website’s words, not mine.
37 minutes: A long ball from a goal kick by Rab Douglas. Route one. Whilst trying to stop Hartson from getting his head on the ball Khizinashvili inadvertently headed the ball back towards his own goal allowing Chris Sutton in for an easy finish, sliding the ball under Klos.
47 minutes After the start of the second half, it took less than 80 seconds for Rangers to equalise. Fernando Ricksen headed an Alan Hutton cross home from the edge of the six yard box. The Celtic defenders were totally at sea and Douglas quite rightly gave them a proper lambasting!
77 minutes An early cross into the box from the right by Didier Agathe saw Sutton mistime his run into the box. The ball bounced across the face of the goal behind both him and his marker. This left Hartson with an acute angle at the back post. He struck the ball down into ground, bouncing over Klos into the net.
Hartson had only signed a new deal just before this game and had found an excellent way to celebrate that fact. This win extended Celtic’s unbeaten streak against Rangers at Celtic Park to an incredible five years, all the way back to when Rod Wallace scored the winner in March 2000. On the flipside Celtic had managed a series of important and sometimes emphatic wins at Ibrox since the turn of the millennium. These included visits straight after away games against Barcelona and most memorably after defeating Boavista in midweek to reach the Uefa Cup final in Seville. Both in the words of Archie MacPherson, “brought a touch of Iberia to a rather grey Govan”. Beach balls and sombreros were essential pieces of kit for any self-respecting Celtic supporter on both occasions.
Stefan Klos did have a rather serious blunder during the second half which was cleared off the line before the oncoming Hartson could pounce. This aside, however, some of his saves in the first half really do leave you wondering how much more dominant Celtic could have been in the first half of the noughties if he had not minding the nets for the Ibrox side. On so many occasions in that period the 1997 Champions League winner had kept Rangers from utter and total embarrassment at the hands of Celtic. Mr Paul Larkin in his documentary “The Asterisk Years” has suggested that his take home pay was the highest in the world in 2002, even above that year’s Champions League winner and Real Madrid Galactico, Zidane. No wonder he didn’t mind staying in Glasgow.
Whilst the league climax provided agony for Celtic fans, the Bhoys went on to lift the Scottish Cup that season, with a slender 1-0 win at Hampden against Dundee United. It was Martin O’Neill’s seventh and final trophy as Celtic boss.
Celtic lineup v Rangers 9/1/2005
McGeady (Camara 85)
Sutton Goal 37
Hartson Goal 77
Subs not used: Marshall, Juninho, Lambert, Wallace.