Rangers slumped to a 1-0 home defeat against Celtic in the first Old Firm derby of the season.

On a day of opportunity, this ended as a horrible afternoon for Michael Beale and his players. In a game void of much quality, Kyogo’s finish on the stroke of half-time sealed the points. The home side will rue a wrongly disallowed Kemar Roofe strike but that aside, cannot point to an abundance of chances. Instead, this was a disjointed showing that will ensure the lowest of moods heading into an upcoming international break.

Our writers have picked apart the game’s big moments from Ibrox

Problems with the press

When Rangers beat Celtic in May, they went after the visitors aggressively and didn't allow them to settle into the game. For a few minutes today, they started in a similar fashion and Rabbi Matondo had an effort ruled out for offside, but their intensity quickly vanished. It quickly became far too easy for Celtic to build possession from defence, allowing their inexperienced centre-backs to settle. Rangers looked disorganised in their press and there wasn’t the required synergy between attack and midfield to ever truly trouble. Rangers’ front three - particularly Cyriel Dessers - looked to press but the midfield didn’t support them and Celtic bypassed them far too easily. Celtic almost capitalised when Callum McGregor collected the ball in space deep in midfield before launching a dangerous attack with Kyogo narrowly failing to provide the killer touch. It was a constant theme throughout the first half as Celtic’s defence repeatedly played through the lines to find their midfielders in too much space. Rangers improved slightly after the break as they looked to initiate their press higher up the pitch, but Celtic also looked to protect their lead as the game progressed which, resultingly, gave Rangers more possession.

Euan Robertson

A first half that failed to seize the occasion

“We have to give our crowd something to get behind from the start,” Beale told RangersTV during his pre-match interview. A narrowly offside Matondo goal may well have earned that spare a couple of yards but thereafter, you couldn’t help but feel that Rangers did not ensure this makeshift Celtic defence were as uncomfortable as they ought to have been. Beale may well look at Roofe’s wrongly overturned goal in mitigation as an example of a moment when his side did coax Celtic into a trap and capitalise brilliantly, but such clarity was an outlier in the home side’s first half. Celtic’s intense pressure at one end and high line at the other may well have made playing through the thirds a risky ploy, but Rangers lacked the pace to make the most of space behind all the same. Their method of attack was too predictable and the passivity of the press, while obviously intentional and part of a plan, didn’t wash with the intensity a packed Ibrox demanded. Kyogo’s strike on the stroke of half-time, following another defensive error, compounded a feeling of deflation inside the stadium. By Beale’s own admission, big occasions need big performances and this was the very opposite. This was a weakened Celtic team who’d failed to score in successive matches against St Johnstone and Kilmarnock, dropping points in the league and dropping out of the League Cup. The stage for Rangers to set the tone was so clear and obvious.

Joshua Barrie

An opportunity glaringly missed

As a game, this felt like one of the lowest-quality Old Firm matches in recent memory. That’s what will frustrate supporters the most. All you can ask for in football is opportunity and today felt like the very definition of a day unfulfilled. Beale wasn’t able to win the meaningful Old Firm matches last season but was understandably, given the promising signs in other matches and small margins that dictated these fixtures, given time. Today, no such arguments will wash because with a summer of change just passed this was the time to perform, the moment that everyone has been waiting for. These are the matches in which new signings are judged and fans arrive expectant, they could not leave today with any encouragement in defeat. Rangers didn’t have much fight for territory after the break with Kyogo’s goal on the stroke of half-time dropping Celtic’s press, but what they did with the ball never really threatened. The home side were playing against a defence that presented them with plenty of areas to target and spaces to exploit, but they never truly looked capable of exploiting those scenarios, always allowing the visitors time to recover. Beyond the occasion and the emotions of this day in isolation, this was a big game for new arrivals and the prospect of a new team to start writing a new chapter. Thousands will have flocked out of Ibrox this afternoon not only frustrated and angry at missed opportunity, but confused as to what the approach they watched sought to achieve. All throughout, doubt and indecision clouded the attacking play, best epitomised by Sam Lammers dancing beyond to earn a chance but taking one too many touches and hitting the side netting, instead of the goal.

Joshua Barrie

An attack with no solutions

Beale revamped his attacking options this summer but it’s impossible to ascertain his preferred front three. Roofe, Dessers and Matondo started this afternoon and that was, remarkably, the eighth different combination that Beale has named in nine games this season. When gelling new players together, it’s imperative for them to play together to build relationships, but that’s not happened this season. Lammers, Danilo, Sima and Dessers all arrived this summer but they’ve not done enough to prove they should be starting. Danilo arrived in a big-money move from Feyenoord and the expectation was that he’d lead the line but he’s failed to start in the last four games. Serious question marks linger over Beale’s recruitment in attacking areas this summer, with Jack Butland the only undeniably successful addition. After 55 minutes, Rangers had registered a measly xG of 0.11 which demonstrates how blunt their attack was. Celtic were playing with an inexperienced centre-back partnership of Liam Scales and Gustaf Lagerbiekle but Rangers allowed them to enjoy a pretty comfortable afternoon.

Euan Robertson 

Defensive concern continues

The concern over Rangers’ inability to sign another centre-back during the closing weeks of the transfer window was palpable, and that dismay will only intensify after today. Rangers were pulled apart against PSV in midweek and their defensive fragility was exposed again by Celtic. Connor Goldson was required to make a decisive interception to prevent Celtic from opening the scoring after an error from John Souttar. The Scotland international has received plaudits for his performances this season, but he’s avoided scrutiny for a number of individual errors that have led to goals. Souttar strolls through the majority of games but he suffers lapses of concentration and they will be punished against better opposition. Both centre-backs were culpable for Kyogo’s opener, an inexcusable goal to lose as Rangers appeared to switch off just before the interval. Goldson’s initial header was poor and straight to Matt O’Riley but Souttar was caught too deep and ultimately played Kyogo onside. Until January and there’s understandably significant concern about that department. Dujon Sterling played at left-back with Borna Barisic injured and he looked uncomfortable in possession at times on his weaker side, although he defended fairly well against Liel Abada.

Euan Robertson