Steven Gerrard’s Rangers suffered their first loss together at the hands of city rivals Celtic in his first dugout duel with Brendan Rodgers. A stubborn defensive display in the first half was followed by an altogether more expansive game in the second, though ultimately Celtic’s relentless pressure saw them record yet another victory against the Ibrox side.
Celtic and Rangers both faced tough ties in the first round of the Betfred Cup, albeit for different reasons. Celtic turned to a change in style to pull them through a rough period, while Rangers faced a robust Kilmarnock side off the back of a testing European tie against Maribor.
Rangers secured a clash with Russian side Ufa for a Europa League group stage place after their 0-0 draw against Maribor saw them win 3-1 on aggregate. Steven Gerrard’s side faced an even sterner test in Slovenia than they did at Ibrox last week, but a strong defensive display saw them resist the hosts’ much improved attacking threat.
Rangers hosted St Mirren on Match Day 2, looking to gain their first win of the league campaign and capitalise on Celtic’s stumble away to Hearts. Steven Gerrard’s side continued to show refinements to their game, testing the defensive organisation and patient build-up play of the guests.
Steven Gerrard made his managerial debut as his Rangers side took on FK Shkupi in their first Europa League qualifier. Under the expectant eyes of the Rangers fans, with not an empty seat in sight, his team secured a 2-0 win to take to Macedonia, with encouraging signs – albeit fledgling – of the ‘relentless’, ‘full-throttle’ style that has been much hyped since his appointment.
With Egypt knocked out the previous day, Saudi Arabia joined them on day seven as the second round of games for groups A came to a close. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo took the lead in the race for the Golden Boot as Morocco became the third team to be eliminated, despite a strong showing.
As we enter a summer of international football, with the world’s best battling it out for the World Cup, at Spielverlagerung we will be covering all the action slightly differently from previous tournaments. Like we have done before with Champions League qualifiers, we will be posting a recap of each day’s action, featuring all of the games played. We will pick a feature match from each day’s action and complement it with concise reports of the other group games.
Kilmarnock inflicted Celtic’s second defeat in as many months at Rugby Park on Saturday. Having only taken over in October, Steve Clarke has already defeated both Rangers and Brendan Rodgers’ side at home, as well as securing respectable draws in Glasgow. Just as significant is the manner in which his team have achieved such success, showing a level of organisation rarely seen in Scotland.
Rangers hosted the first Old Firm game of the season already five points behind cross-city rivals Celtic after six games played. Brendan Rodgers’ side extended their winning run at Ibrox despite a resilient defensive display from the home side, which served to highlight some of the champions’ shortcomings.
Linfield hosted Celtic at Windsor Park for the first leg of their Champions League second round qualifier, in a game that will be remembered more for events off the pitch than on it. With the match moved to Friday evening as opposed to the originally scheduled Wednesday night to avoid the Glasgow side’s playing in Belfast coinciding with the ‘Twelfth’, an already unusual scenario was only compounded by Celtic’s uncharacteristically poor play in possession, albeit in part down to the home side’s good defensive organisation.