The defending Keystone Police left the Rangers penalty area looking a bit like Nicola Sturgeon Park.
But James Tavernier believes it was Parkhead officials who let Celtic out of jail on Saturday. The Rangers captain has often had the thankless task of stepping up after Old Firm defeats. There have been explanations, excuses and sometimes even apologies from supporters.
But Saturday was different. Tavernier is more angry than remorseful. The Light Blues frontman was once again relegated to talking after the defeat to bitter rivals but kept his head high. He knew this was not like the final of the Viaplay Cup when Celtic put numbers on his side. Rangers were well into the clash at Parkhead at the weekend and it was a clash of great strengths. The Hoops had more of a killer instinct and they managed to turn off the life support on the Ibrox clubs title chances.
Yet, oddly enough, there were still plenty of positives that suggested brighter times might be ahead. After the summer, of course, as Michael Beale will have the opportunity to create a new-look group with many members of this squad on their way.
But also in the short term. The Scottish Cup semi-final showdown with their neighbors is only a few weeks away. If Rangers can perform like they did at Parkhead, they will be no slouch at the National Stadium. And rather than say sorry, Tavernier chose to hang on to a case. This time it is injustice.
The full-back made it an incredible 100 goals for Gers at the weekend with his brace against Celtic. His superb free-kick leveled No.99 and a second header that set up a frantic finale made it a ton. But instead of reflecting on personal achievement after the final whistle on Saturday, Tavernier clung to that sense of injustice.
Alfredo Morelos missed goal. Jota’s handball claim for Celtic’s second goal. He didn’t mention Morelos’ shirt pulling in the second half, but that too will be used in the coming weeks.
Whether he had a case or not was up for debate, but it’s fuel for the fire heading into Hampden, where they need to salvage something of a touchy season.
Tavernier said: “As I said, I didn’t feel Alfredo’s goal was a foul and then I felt the referee should have been given the opportunity to look at it to see if it was a foul. It’s hard to watch their second goal slip off the arm of Jota and not look at it.
“But we as a team have to look past those decisions and try to pull it out ourselves. We’re just disappointed we didn’t.”
Tavernier liked what he saw there. He said. “The way we had it worked really well. After 15 minutes we started to get the ball and move it really well. We frustrated them and created our chances.
“I felt we could have created more chances, but to go into half-time at 1-1 we felt we could go out and do the same. We did that when we started the second half really well.
“We controlled some parts of the game, but we made mistakes. Even at 3-2 we had great chances to tie it. It’s small edges and you have to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Tavernier has suffered setbacks during his time at Ibrox, but he has cleaned himself up. The title-winning captain from two seasons ago will do it again this week. He said. “Our next game, the St Mirren game, is important because we need a run of consistency going into the semi-finals. It’s a huge game in three weeks. But St Mirren is huge because we have to get back to winning ways and work on ourselves.”
Tavernier played down his own achievement, but the promotion did not go unnoticed by his beaming gaze. Bill will mark it appropriately as the wounds from the weekend heal, but the manager will also refuse to get too aggrieved.
He said. “A hundred goals for James is a fantastic personal achievement. When the dust settles, it’s important that we recognize it.
“He played well on Saturday. “Rangers” had very good performances. We show that we are making improvements.
“We are showing that we are gaining confidence in tactical ideas and relationships on the pitch. It was a good margin on Saturday. We’re not getting anything for it, but we’re definitely going to keep going.”
Bill was left with a feeling that this got away. The captives posed a threat from time to time, but also shot themselves in the foot. Celtic’s second and third goals came from criminal errors by centre-backs Ben Davies and John Souttar.
But Bill said. “My boys played well. I was disappointed for them because the work they did deserved better. You can learn from defeat and there were positives.
“But the most important feeling was that the mistakes were made by those in the blue shirts. The game was in our hands. I’m not going to pick on those guys for that because they were honest, honest mistakes, but they cost a lot.”
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