Cedric Itten came off the bench to spare Steven Gerrard’s blushes as Glasgow Rangers salvaged a point against Scottish Premiership strugglers Motherwell to maintain their lead over Celtic.
The Swiss international hasn’t had the best of starts to life at Ibrox but he’s now starting to show exactly the reason why Ross Wilson signed him for an undisclosed fee in the first place.
Just last season, Itten scored 19 times in 34 top-flight appearances for St Gallen in Switzerland and has bagged three goals in three games for his country, but has been forced to play second-fiddle to Alfredo Morelos, with the latter scoring 69 goals in 123 games since Gerrard’s arrival as Ibrox boss.
But the 24-year-old rescued a draw for the league leaders as they ground out a result at Fir Park to restore their 21-point lead over Celtic.
However, despite his heroics against Motherwell, it’s awfully difficult to ignore the contributions of Borna Barisic at left-back, as the Croatian caused all sorts of problems for Graham Alexander’s side.
There are few who show the effectiveness of an attacking full-back in Scottish football better than the likes of Barisic and his teammate James Tavernier. Against Well, not only did he underline his credentials as one of the best attacking full-backs in Scotland, he also demonstrated he is fully capable of putting in a defensive shift with a well-rounded display on the left-hand side of the defence..
Glasgow Live reporter Mark McDougall was equally impressed by what he saw from Barisic, writing at the time that he ‘defended well and is Mr Consistent for Rangers.’
The numbers are simply staggering, too. Barisic managed to provide five key passes throughout the contest, more than any other player on the pitch, including Itten, and he also produced two clearances, which was the highest number in Gerrard’s side.
He didn’t stop there, either, as he utterly dominated Well winger Sherwin Seedorf from start to finish. The 22-year-old, who is a distant relative of Clarence Seedorf, struggled to get a foothold in the game; he took just 27 touches of the ball, lost 74% of his duels overall, and completed just five passes, so it’s no wonder he was hauled off halfway through the second half.
By comparison, Barisic continued to run rings around Well on the left wing, as he won six out of his eight duels (75%) in total, as per SofaScore, as he proved to be a real handful for Alexander’s side in almost every area of the pitch.
The 28-year-old has made 21 starts from 24 top-flight appearances and it’s easy to see why after such a showing.
While Itten will receive most of the plaudits, Barisic was Gerrard’s unsung hero against Motherwell, and it’s perhaps fitting that he provided the assist to cap off a masterful performance.
AND in other news, Rangers-linked Jack Wilshere set for January transfer to Bournemouth…