Celtic made a massive statement of intent on Saturday, as they defeated Rangers 2-1 in the second Glasgow Derby to move eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership table.

In a fiery encounter at Celtic Park, there was plenty on the line, with Rangers manager Phillipe Clement taking part in his first match against Celtic since joining his new side in October. Also taking part in his first derby, Paulo Bernardo would be one of the heroes on the day, as his half-volley was smashed into the back of the net following a Luis Palma clearance in the 25th minute.

Celtic would go in at the break ahead but came out firing following the restart, as Kyogo Furuhashi scored his SEVENTH goal against Rangers in 2023 with a sensational side-footed finish that Jack Butland could not keep out of his net. The away side would then be reduced to 10 men, as Leon Balogun took down Daizen Maeda, who was in on goal. Despite this, the visitors would find a way back into the game from a well-taken James Tavernier free-kick that got the better of Joe Hart, though the home side would hang on to secure a mammoth victory against their greatest rivals.

Brendan Rodgers made just one change from the side that comprehensively beat Dundee 3-0 at Dens Park on Boxing Day. It was an enforced one, as Cameron Carter-Vickers failed to recover from the hamstring injury he picked up in the last game, so Stephen Welsh started in his place. Apart from this, it was the same team named, as Bernardo was trusted to start his first derby since joining the club on loan from Benfica. Elsewhere, Palma took part in his first Rangers game too, whilst Maeda was trusted to provide his usual pressing game on the other side. Kyogo led the line for the champions, whilst Matt O’Riley played just behind him as the furthest-forward midfielder.

Using StatsBomb, The Celtic Way brings you a match report like no other…

The match

In a very rare occurrence, Celtic had the lowest percentage out of the two teams concerning victory with the chances created at 25 per cent. Rangers had a 36 per cent chance, whilst a draw was more likely at 39 per cent. Observing the race chart above, it was a game with a lot of low-xG chances, with three well-taken goals perhaps illustrating this story further.

It was a back-and-forth start to proceedings, with both sides having decent chances in the opening exchanges. Bernardo came close with a header (0.11 xG), whilst Todd Cantwell had a good chance blocked by Liam Scales before shooting wide a few minutes later (0.21 xG combined). John Lundstram and Abdallah Sima would both have chances following Cantwell’s second shot, but both failed to trouble Hart in the Celtic goal. Bernardo would then come close again (0.05 xG), though the Portuguese midfielder was finding his range, which proved to be the difference two minutes later…

Palma’s corner into the box was met by Sima, who headed it straight into the path of Bernardo on the edge of the area. Still with plenty of work to do, the midfielder catches the flight of the ball perfectly and strikes it on the half-volley, soaring past Butland into the Rangers net. Rising from 0.06 to a massive 0.80 in xG and PSxG, Bernardo’s shot was a faultless one, easily the biggest moment in his Celtic career thus far. The home side was in charge but faced a fightback from the visitors as expected.

Indeed, the final three chances of the first half would come the way of Rangers, who were pushing for an equaliser before the break. The best of these would come to Ross McCausland, whose shot was blocked by substitute Maik Nawrocki just inside the box. This chance, along with another from himself and Cantwell notched up 0.24 in xG, as Rangers tried their best to get back on terms. Despite this, Celtic went in at the break ahead, with Rodgers’ side not hanging around after the restart, either…

Doubling their lead on the day, this goal was brilliant from start to finish. Nawrocki in defence – playing his first game since August – found O’Riley out wide in space with a cutting pass that broke Rangers’ lines. From then, the dynamic midfielder turned and played an accurate path of his own into the path of Kyogo, who was being marked by Connor Goldson. Alarm bells would have been ringing for Phillippe Clement’s side at this point, but it was too late, as the Japan striker shimmied to create space before curling a tremendous shot in the direction of Butland’s far corner. Despite getting fingertips on the shot, the former England international keeper could not prevent the strike from finding its intended target in the back of the net. Another low-xG shot at 0.05, it would rise to 0.28 in PSxG following the strike leaving the dangerous attacker’s boot. A tremendous finish, but perhaps one that Butland will be disappointed to concede, especially due to getting a touch on the strike.

There would be a bit of a lull in the game following this strike in terms of chances, with no opportunities transpiring for 14 minutes of play. Cyriel Dessers would break this pause, though his hot went wide of the post in what was a disappointing day for the striker (0.08 xG). The imperious Callum McGregor had his shot blocked by Lundstram a minute after before Tavernier had his free kick stopped by Celtic’s wall a further six minutes later.

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The game would change once again, as Balogun was given his marching orders following a last-man challenge from the Nigerian defender on Maeda, who was in on goal. This, in turn, allowed Celtic to attack with a little less pressure, given the scoreline and numerical advantage they had over their rivals. They would have four chances in the next 10 minutes, though they failed to make their dominance count with any of them. The best of the four came to Kyogo, whose shot did not trouble Butland whatsoever. (0.10 xG – 0.20 combined). These four chances would be some of the last for Celtic in this game, as the 10 men of Rangers threw everything at Celtic in pursuit of a way back into proceedings, which they managed…

After two chances from Dessers and Scott Wright (0.07 combined xG), Rangers would be awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, which always spells danger when Tavernier is in the vicinity. The Rangers captain stepped up and smashed the ball past Hart in goals, who got a hand to the shot but could not keep it out. It must be argued that a better – or younger – goalkeeper may have been able to save this chance, but Tavernier took it well. 0.01 in shot xG, it would rise slightly to 0.09 in PSxG. A great strike, but a save you would expect a keeper to make, especially plying his trade for Celtic. Wright and Kieran Dowell had chances for Rangers – as did Palma for Celtic – but the game ended 2-1 after a nervy eight minutes of additional time were played out. A massive three points for Rodgers’ side, who moved eight points clear of Clement and Rangers, in turn inflicting the Belgian his first defeat as Rangers manager.

Looking at the shot map for Celtic in this match, it was a game in which they did not fully impose their attacking best onto their opponents, which was a stark contrast to Dundee just four days earlier. 12 shots at home is a low accumulation for Celtic, though the main thing is that they got the victory in truth. What is interesting is the two goals coming in similar areas for Bernardo and Kyogo in the centre, though one was just inside the box while the other was a couple of yards outside the area. This shows their effectiveness at taking shots from a decent range, though their lack of high-xG shots will hopefully just be an anomaly for this game only.

Both goalscorers that afternoon had the joint-highest shots between them on the day, as Bernardo and Kyogo had three each. McGregor had two of his own, whilst David Turnbull and the returning Liel Abada had the better of the chances late on in proceedings.


Celtic had more possession than their opponents in the Glasgow Derby, with 55 to Rangers’ 45. The home side completed 79 per cent of their 522 passes, meanwhile, the visitors only managed 73 per cent of their 426 passes.

The passing network gives a rough idea of where the majority of the game was played and who was the most involved. Remember that the warmer the colour, the more influential the player was in the game, and the thicker the passing lines, the more passes between the players.

StatsBomb measures pass contributions in on-ball value (often referred to as OBV, a term breakdown of which can be read here).

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The passing networks for Celtic in both the first and second half indicate how the game changed in terms of what transpired. In the opening 45 minutes, O’Riley was Celtic’s main player judging by OBV colouring, though Greg Taylor showed up well too in this metric. The one concerning thing about the first-half diagram is the lack of passing lines, which may suggest that the performance was a little disjointed. This was not the case following the second half, which suggests that Alistair Johnston had a better game on the ball than what was first thought. Turnbull – whose circle is behind Kyogo’s on the graph – also had a decent showing off of the bench with his limited minutes.

Statistically, O’Riley posted the best numbers concerning OBV in this match with an impressive 0.40 for 43 passes. Johnston was next best with 0.15 OBV for 44 passes. Maeda, Kyogo and Hart all posted negative OBV totals, though they all contributed to other areas.

Fresh from Palma’s 11 key passes at Dens Park, he topped this particular table once again with three, at a combined xG of 0.20. McGregor had two key passes of his own in this match, in arguably his best performance against Rangers in his whole career.


In what was a battle between two sides that were desperate to win, Celtic’s work off of the ball proved to be key in doing just that. Despite having more possession, they managed to initiate 242 pressures to Rangers’ 206. They also managed more pressure regains than their opponents, with 53 to 39 in favour of Rodgers’ side.

Celtic’s individual pressure statistics are a joy to behold if you value hard work and graft. Indeed, three players had over 30 pressures, whilst six had 20 or over in the game. O’Riley returned to the top of the pressure charts with 34, whilst Palma and Bernardo had 32 and 31 between them. Bernardo had the most counterpressures for Celtic in the match with 10, meanwhile McGregor had nine.

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Defensively, in terms of tackles and interceptions, O’Riley was Celtic’s standout performer with a combined five in total. Nawrocki – despite coming on as a first-half substitute – was just behind the dynamic Dane with four of his own. Unsurprisingly, Scales had another immense game at the back for Celtic, with eight clearances and five aerial duel wins, winning 83 per cent of them as a result.

Overall, a massive win for Rodgers and his side, as they extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table to eight points, though Rangers have two games in hand. Next up is St Mirren, which is the last game before the winter break. The manager and his players will be hoping it is 12 points from 12 after Tuesday evening’s events in Paisley…