Mid­field boss happy to graft for the cause

Hal­l­i­day’s per­for­mance epit­o­mised Rangers’ spirit – Celtic could have done with some­one like him . . .

The Herald - Herald Sport - - WILLIAM HILL SCOTTISH CUP SEMI-FINAL - NEIL CAMERON

WHEN Andy Hal­l­i­day looks back on this match, and he is bound to re­live it a fair few times, the Rangers mid­fielder will won­der how on Earth he man­aged to pro­duce a per­for­mance of such grit, in­tel­li­gence and all-round bril­liance for 120 min­utes.

By the end, the tank wasn’t so much empty as ab­sent al­to­gether. Take a bow, sir. That is how a sup­porter is sup­posed to play in th­ese matches.

Hal­l­i­day is a Rangers fan, but he did not crash into tack­les on Celtic play­ers just to get a cheer. He bossed that mid­field and made Scott Brown, who did just that last year, look av­er­age at best. He passed the ball all day, made in­ter­cep­tions, read the play, set up his team’s first goal and led by ex­am­ple. Many fol­lowed him.

The win­ner of this fix­ture, and we can go back to black-and-white days here, has to be strong in the mid­dle of the park. They need at least one player in there who can dom­i­nate, bring team­mates into play and Hal­l­i­day did this and a lot more. He and his fel­low sup­port­ers will hate the un­avoid­able com­par­i­son, but this is what Neil Len­non used to do in this fix­ture.

There was a mo­ment when Hal­l­i­day’s face took the full force of a shot. It grounded him, but he shook off the ef­fects, got back to de­fend a cor­ner and, next thing, he was mak­ing a su­perbly timed tackle on Char­lie Mul­grew in­side the box.

No­body wear­ing green and white came close to his at­ti­tude and that is sim­ply not good enough

If Hal­l­i­day was a hero for Rangers, so, too, were just about all his team­mates with the ex­cel­lent Bar­rie McKay, Do­minic Ball, Rob Kier­nan de­serv­ing of spe­cial praise. In truth, many, many more names could be men­tioned.

As for the side top of the Premier­ship; it has to be said that there should be a fleet of taxis sit­ting out­side of Celtic Park this morn­ing be­cause, if those par­tic­u­lar Rangers play­ers epit­o­mised what is re­quired in a derby, they also high­lighted what the op­po­si­tion did not have.

Too many are just not up to it. If you can’t han­dle play­ing Rangers, who ended the game with re­serve play­ers and Cham­pi­onship stal­warts through­out their team, then you shouldn’t be at Celtic.

Gary Mackay-Steven clearly did not want to be there. He looked like a wee boy lost, although the fact he was an empty shirt, along with Ste­fan Jo­hansen and the woe­ful Dedryck Boy­ata, would have come as no sur­prise to any Celtic fan who had ac­tu­ally watched their team this sea­son. Does Ronny Deila ac­tu­ally take in what is go­ing on?

Rangers won the ma­jor­ity of the bat­tles in mid­field. The cen­tre halves, Kier­nan and Danny Wil­son are hardly Gough and Butcher, but they man­aged Leigh Grif­fiths, who looked so lonely for long pe­ri­ods.

Pa­trick Roberts did give Lee Wal­lace a tor­rid time, but the Rangers cap­tain kept go­ing and, as the en­counter pro­gressed, the winger be­came less in­flu­en­tial.

Now, you could claim Roberts was the vil­lain of the piece with that miss, which will live with him and a few thou­sand oth­ers for some time. How­ever, at least he went look­ing for the ball and tried to cre­ate things. He ac­tu­ally had a de­cent match.

Kieran Tier­ney is 18 and was the one Celt who played his nor­mal game. There are a few oth­ers who should be ashamed by how a wean showed them what it was all about.

Mackay-Steven hid, Jo­hansen didn’t seem to know what his role was, Brown strug­gled, Nir Bit­ton was waste­ful while Boy­ata, who has been a poor sign­ing, got caught the wrong side of Kenny Miller at the first goal.

He was taken off in the first half and, while Celtic may ar­gue that he was in­jured, but he didn’t look to be strug­gling as he ran down the tun­nel with a haunted look on his face. The physio had ap­peared at the side of Deila just be­fore he was re­placed by Erik Svi­atchenko, who should have started, as if to in­di­cate the cen­tre half had a prob­lem.

The prob­lem ap­peared to be that he had frozen. Not one Rangers player froze. In fact, most were in­spired by the oc­ca­sion.

McKay was a rev­e­la­tion. His work rate was ex­cep­tional, his goal in ex­tra time one for the ages. It came from a throw-in that should have gone to Celtic, but the dan­ger should have been dealt with.

Too of­ten, though, the Celtic de­fen­sive line was too deep and the Rangers winger sent an un­stop­pable shot into the top cor­ner.

You could pore over ev­ery lit­tle de­tail of this match for hours, look­ing at it from many dif­fer­ent ways and still come to same con­clu­sion.

Rangers wanted it more and that is why they de­served to win.

GRIT: Rangers’ Andy Hal­l­i­day, who had a su­perb game at Ham­p­den yes­ter­day, keeps tabs on Tom Rogic

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