Rangers 0-1 Celtic: Kyogo earns Brendan Rodgers statement Old Firm win in controversial derby

Kyogo Furuhashi
Kyogo Furuhashi's sixth Old Firm derby goal concluded a frenetic first half at Ibrox

Brendan Rodgers answered early questions surrounding his second Celtic tenure by delivering a statement Old Firm Scottish Premiership win over Rangers in a controversial derby.

Kyogo Furuhashi provided the decisive moment again, capitalising on more slack defending by the home defence just before the break at Ibrox to ruthlessly lash in his sixth goal in five starts in the fixture.

But the Japan forward's strike came after Rabbi Matondo had an offside effort disallowed inside the first minute, before Kemar Roofe had another chopped off for Cyriel Dessers' contentious foul on Gustaf Lagerbielke.

The Celtic centre-back appeared to kick through the back of the Rangers striker while being dispossessed, but referee Don Robertson opted to rule the goal out after an on-field VAR review.

Michael Beale stressed the importance to "lay down a marker" pre-match following Wednesday's Champions League humiliation in Eindhoven, but instead more pressure will now build on the Ibrox boss, who has just one win from six derbies.

Celtic, whose depleted defence consisted of centre-back pairing of Lagerbielke and Liam Scales making their Old Firm debuts, just about held firm after the interval with the help of Joe Hart to move Rodgers' men top by two points and four clear of their rivals.

Old Firm management is a pressure cooker at the best of times, but prior to Sunday it was difficult to think of a derby in which both managers went into the fixture feeling a similar amount of heat.

Rodgers, still trying to win over a chunk of the Celtic fanbase, came into the game off the back of a Viaplay Cup exit at Kilmarnock a fortnight ago and a goalless draw at home to St Johnstone last week.

Beale, who also suffered defeat at Rugby Park in the first league game of the season, was fresh off a chastening 5-1 second-leg defeat to PSV in a failed Champions League qualifying campaign.

So it was little wonder that in a cauldron of noise at Ibrox, which was completely packed with home fans, both sets of players took turns in handling the pressure better.

Sandwiched between Rangers' ruled out strikes, Kyogo failed to connect from close range and saw a finish cleared off the line by Connor Goldson, before firing over when he should have teed up Liel Abada, who had just forced Jack Butland into a superb fingertip stop.

The remainder of the game was about Celtic's defensive resistance and Rangers' lack of clinical edge, which was laid bare by Sam Lammers' glaring miss when he rounded Hart, who then made two key stops to deny Danilo in the dying stages.

Player of the match - Liam Scales

Liam Scales tackles Abdallah Sima
After a shaky opening period, the Celtic centre-back - making his Old Firm debut - delivered a colossal second-half display at the heart of a makeshift defence

Rangers fail to grasp another 'big opportunity' - analysis

"When you have a big opportunity, you need big performances," were the words of Beale pre-match. Against a depleted Celtic defence, that opportunity was there for his players, but again they failed to grasp it.

Rightly or wrongly, a lot of the Rangers focus will be on Roofe's disallowed goal, but that simply cannot detract attention from another defensive lapse which has decided a derby.

A simple Matt O'Riley header over the top caught John Souttar too deep in Rangers' defensive line, allowing Kyogo to dispatch a clinical finish from an onside position.

What Beale would do for someone with the ruthless streak of the Japan striker, who had just nine touches in the game - four of which were shots.

Instead, his recent attacking recruits are doing little to inspire. The Rangers boss' decision to start Roofe and Matondo perhaps highlights he is also yet to be convinced.

On the flipside, this win - Rodgers' 10th from 13 derbies - will swat away minor doubts that were threatening to build around the infancy of his second spell at the club.

Based on this evidence, there is nothing to suggest that Celtic's dominance will come to a halt, especially with a serial winner at the helm.

What's next?

Following the international break, both sides return to action on 16 September as Rangers travel to St Johnstone (12:30 BST) before Celtic host Dundee.

More to follow.