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Rangers: Fashion Sakala was Beale’s hero in the Old Firm

Glasgow Rangers failed to gain any ground in the Scottish Premiership title race following a 2-2 draw against Old Firm rivals Celtic in today’s New Year derby.

Michael Beale was taking charge of the Ibrox side for the first time in an Old Firm clash and he had to look on as Rangers were underwhelming in the first half, having just 40% possession and going in at the break a goal down.

The second half saw a marked improvement, with the Light Blues scoring twice in the space of six minutes to lead 2-1 and the performance was far more fluid.

A first derby win for Beale was snatched away by a late Celtic equaliser, however, and despite their best attempts, the Gers couldn’t find a late winner.

James Tavernier showed great composure to score the penalty while making four key passes during the tie, yet it was Fashion Sakala who was arguably Rangers’ biggest threat going forward.

Sakala had so far thrived under the 42-year-old in the four matches since the season resumed midway through December, scoring twice and grabbing an assist and he was deployed on the right wing for today’s match.

The 25-year-old received a solid Sofascore rating of 7.0/10 for his performance, which included 39 touches and 12 accurate passes, although it was his attacking prowess that nearly won the match for Rangers.

Sakala played one key pass, had a total of four shots, succeeded with three of his four dribble attempts, and won the penalty from which Tavernier coolly slotted away.

His unpredictable nature meant he was an absolute nightmare for the Celtic defence, with his darting runs and raw talent creating chances for his teammates throughout the encounter.

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He was also praised for his “excellent driving run” to set up Ryan Kent’s equaliser by journalist Joshua Barrie, while Jordan Campbell claimed that Sakala “changed the game for Rangers” with his second-half performance.

Beale can take a lot of positives from this performance into the next few weeks, and despite the game finishing in a draw, it could have easily ended with the Light Blues securing all three points.

The difference at the top of the table is still nine points and the next two Old Firm clashes will be crucial unless the title has already been decided by then.