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Celtic: Carl Starfelt almost cost Postecoglou dearly in the derby

Scottish champions Celtic maintained their nine-point advantage at the top of the table following a hard-fought draw with bitter rivals Rangers at Ibrox on Monday afternoon, with the Hoops reliant on a late Kyogo Furuhashi strike to bail them out of trouble.

The Parkhead giants had gone into the clash on a 12-game winning run in the Scottish Premiership and it looked to be more of the same as the visitors raced into an early lead against Michael Beale’s men, with the lively Daizen Maeda capitalising on Alfredo Morelos’ errant pass to ruthlessly fire his side ahead.

Ange Postecoglou’s side were unable to build on that advantage, however, as the momentum quickly shifted in the latter stages of the opening period, with experienced goalkeeper Joe Hart notably almost playing the league leaders into trouble after dithering on the ball inside his own box.

The Light Blues’ pressure would then pay off just after the break as Ryan Kent curled in in fine fashion, before James Tavernier lashed home from the penalty spot following Carl Starfelt’s rash, sliding challenge on Fashion Sakala.

The Swedish centre-back would see his blushes spared as Kyogo fired in with just minutes to play – as the Bhoys avoid handing any sort of lifeline to their Glasgow foes in the title race – although it still represented a grim outing for the 27-year-old.

The former Rubin Kazan man – who has previously been described as “clumsy” by pundit John Hartson – appeared particularly shaky in the second half as Postecoglou’s men were under the cosh, having looked ‘rattled‘ at times, as per Glasgow Live’s Matthew Fulton.

The five-cap brute endured a ‘torrid‘ time of it after the interval, according to Football Scotland’s Ryan McDonald, having simply been unable to live with the relentless pace of Sakala alongside makeshift left-back Josip Juranovic.

While the Stockholm-born centre-back did win six of his nine aerial duels and record seven clearances on the day, he was particularly wasteful in possession after losing the ball on ten occasions from his 103 touches, having also committed four fouls as a marker of his struggles.

Equally, the £19k-per-week dud also won just one of his five ground duels and achieved a rather limp match rating of just 6.8, as per Sofascore, having been perhaps fortunate not to see his penalty error prove costly.

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A typically solid presence so far this term – having averaged a 7.28 match rating in the top-flight – it was simply was ‘not his best day at the office‘, in the words of the aforementioned McDonald.

Such an underwhelming display may well have given hope to the likes of Moritz Jenz and Yuki Kobayashi of dislodging Starfelt as Cameron Carter-Vickers’ long-term partner in the backline.