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Celtic: James Forrest failed Ange Postecoglou vs Rangers

Celtic managed to maintain their nine-point gap ahead of Rangers in the Scottish Premiership title race on Monday afternoon, however, Ange Postecoglou’s side had it far from all their own way in a thrilling 2-2 Old Firm draw at Ibrox.

Indeed, after Daizen Maeda cooly slotted home with barely five minutes on the clock, it appeared as if Celtic were on track to secure a repeat of the 4-0 demolition of their Glasgow rivals earlier in the season, although this would not prove the case.

While the Hoops did maintain their lead until half-time, the Light Blues came flying out of the box in the second period, with Ryan Kent’s curling effort bringing the home side level on the 47-minute mark, before Carl Starfelt brought Fashion Sakala down in the box just six minutes later, with James Tavernier firing powerfully home from the resulting penalty to give Gers the lead.

However, while it was largely Michael Beale’s side on top as the game drew to a close, Kyogo Furuhashi salvaged a point for Celtic with just two minutes of normal time remaining, slamming home from close range after the ball broke free in the box.

Although, despite the result being much more favourable for Postecoglou’s men than Rangers, a number of the Bhoys’ individual displays will have disappointed the Greek-Australian coach at Ibrox, with Joe Hart and Josip Juranovic both poor on Monday.

Indeed, the latter was notably criticised by pundit Chris Sutton who claimed the Croat “would have struggled to impress any watching scouts” amid links of a move away from Paradise.

Having said that, it will perhaps be the performance of James Forrest that will be the 57-year-old’s biggest cause for concern, as the 31-year-old well and truly failed his manager’s trust after being handed a surprise start against the Light Blues.

Indeed, over his 61 minutes on the pitch, the £3.5m-rated winger offered his side next to nothing going forwards, taking no shots at Allan McGregor’s goal, failing with his one attempted dribble and making no key passes.

The £20k-per-week forward also enjoyed just 31 touches of the ball – the third-lowest of any outfielder to start the match – completed a mere 15 of his 23 attempted passes – at a success rate of just 65% – and gave the ball away on 12 separate occasions – meaning he ceded possession for his side with every 2.6 touches he had.

Rather unsurprisingly, these metrics saw the Scotland international earn an extremely disappointing Sofascore match rating of 6.5 – the second-worst of Celtic’s starting outfielders on the day – while The Celtic Way’s Tony Haggerty also awarded the winger a five in his own player ratings, as well as stated of Forrest’s performance:

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“A surprise inclusion for many as he was given the nod over Jota and Liel Abada by his manager. That must have been a supreme vote of confidence for the wide man and the Aussie admitted that it was his sparkling form which dictated that he was in the Ibrox starting lineup. Helped out [Alistair] Johnston as much as he could but he was not really seen as an attacking threat.”

Indeed, while Kyogo’s late strike ultimately spared Celtic’s blushes at Ibrox, the display of Forrest could easily have cost Postecoglou’s side dearly in the Old Firm clash, as the 31-year-old “flopped badly” – in the words of journalist Stuart Hodge – on his chance to impress from the off against Rangers.